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How To Love An Odyssey, Or Any Other Car For That Matter

semenzatosemenzato Posts: 41
edited June 2016 in Honda
I am returning to this forum because I am too cheap to pay for psychoanalysis, and also because Edmunds crowd-sourced therapy is likely to be better.

I am in the market for a new car. My most recent car was a Sienna Limited AWD and I didn't love it. We decided to try AWD for the trips to Tahoe, and that was just before a long drought, but never mind that. I bought the Limited because I thought that the extra features would compensate for my lack of enthusiasm, but money cannot buy love.

Before the Sienna I had a 2001 Ody---the first large Ody---and I loved it. But did I love the car, or did I love that time of my life, when the wind ran through my hair---no wait, no sunroof on that one. Or possibly I loved the change: my first new car was a Mazda GLC ($5,500), then a Honda Civic Si Hatchback ($12,000), then the Ody ($30,000), so every new car cost more than twice the old one---but that didn't scale. Then the Sienna (about $40,000). And now what?

Today I test-drove a 2016 Odyssey, and a few other cars. I am considering SUVs as well, but as any dedicated minivan owner knows, SUVs are overrated. They have similar power-to-weight ratio as minivans do, but have a higher center of gravity so they don't drive as nicely, and take about the same space, but have a lot less room. There is also the theoretical off-road advantage of the SUV, but come on, really, who are we fooling. Nevertheless, I also tested a Volvo XC90 T6 (about $55,000) and took a look at the Audi Q7, hoping that they would stir some emotion. (They did, but read on.) The Honda dealer (in El Cerrito, CA) was next to the Chrysler dealer, so I also tried the new Pacifica minivan.

And here is a summary of my emotions.


First impression: why is the driver seat so cramped? I cannot even fully stretch my left leg. Really? REALLY? It's not a deal killer, but there is more room in my wife's Prius, and I am not that tall, 5'11" and average proportions.

The rest of the space is, as usual, wonderful. Great second row, perfectly usable third row. Folding the third row is easier than ever. The test drive was short. It was overall pleasant, but unimpressive. I was hoping for slightly more eager acceleration, and the transmission hesitated under mild demands.

I would probably be fine with this car, but it doesn't feel any better than the 2001 model---even though it probably is.


Surprisingly this one drove better: more eager acceleration and smoother transmission. Design is good. Interior has some clunkiness, little things that look cheap and unwieldy. I wasn't impressed by the disappearing middle seats---it makes the seats thinner and smaller than they could be, and I almost never need that extra space. Overall I'd still be very hesitant to buy a Chrysler.


After experiencing the minivans, the third row on this kind of SUVs is a joke at best, meaning: in the largest ones (2016 Honda Pilot) adults can actually sit in them if they don't mind having their knees up at chest level---i.e the floor is way too high. In the smaller ones (2016 Audi Q7) you need to be imaginative to fit an adult. It can be done, I tried it, to the horror of the Audi salesperson, by moving the other two rows forward as far as they go, which means you'll need to choose your driver carefully so that she can still fit (forgive the sexism, but it is more descriptive).

However, I need to give credit where it's due: the European SUVs have a pleasant interior, with multi-tone leather in happy colors rather than the drab grey of the Odyssey, and more comfortable seats. The XC90 is also quite peppy, although there is the usual turbo lag, but the amount of power is amazing for a 2L engine, it feels like an aspirated 3.5L.

Conclusions (because it's dinner time)

Ultimately I still don't love any car. Perhaps I am looking for a European luxury minivan, which, if it existed, would also create a Japanese one---the Acura or Lexus minivan. Not too different from say an Ody Touring Elite, but with more power, a better looking interior, and a driver seat with more leg room.


  • steverstever Posts: 52,462
    edited June 2016
    I love minivans too and my brother is on his second Odyssey. My wife isn't a Honda fan and thinks the passenger side is a bit cramped (we're both a couple of inches shorter than you btw and otherwise mostly average).

    We haul junk a lot and often have the middle row seats down in our current Grand Caravan. I've heard the thin seats argument many a time but my seat time in the second row has been fine (I'm usually immersed in pinball on the iPad when I've been relegated to the middle row, and zoned out anyway).

    I'm interested in seeing the Pacifica although we really want to downsize next time after 18 years with a minivan as the primary driver.

    You might check out the Mercedes Metris - they are running from $34k to $44k. It sounds like you want something a bit more plush that we do. And the Kia Sedona has been getting good reviews.
  • semenzatosemenzato Posts: 41
    edited June 2016
    Thank you for the comment. I don't think I particularly care for "plush" even though I did look at those more expensive cars. I am not sure I can bring myself to buy a Mercedes or even a BMW---too Veblen. And unlike you, I am not sure I am ready to downsize. Space is a bigger luxury than fancy trim.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,462
    We came close to buying a Sienna back in the late 90s but it seemed more setup for hauling kids and people. We rarely have people in our minivans so the Sienna felt too "plush". Plush is good but we don't want to have to worry much about putting camping gear or bikes in the back, and we aren't adverse to putting a tarp down in the back and shoveling in compost or dirt or hay bales.

    And yeah, cars are more like tools to me I guess. I want all the bells and whistles but I'm not going to spend hours of my life detailing one.

    "Space is a bigger luxury than fancy trim" - consider that stolen. :)
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