Honda Odyssey

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Honda Odyssey vs. Toyota Sienna?

Dec 2006

Greetings, As we are about to have our second son, we are looking at either buying or leasing either a Honda Odyssey or a Toyota Sienna. We were pretty set on the Odyssey for a variety of reasons until we read some reviews on Yahoo that pretty much trashed the Odyssey, saying that it gets lower than promised mileage, needs frequent repairs, develops a strange windshield humming sound after a few hundred miles etc. Can anybody offer any guidance from personal experience? Odyssey owners who love their cars? Any drawbacks? Sienna owners who love theirs? Any in put would be much appreciated. Thanks confused...

I just finished paying off my toyota sienna! I love my car. I like japanese cars period, but the reason I got the sienna was purely cosmetic. I liked the shape! The odyssey looks like a box and unappealing to me. I don't know much about mileage etc., but with three teenagers and a preschool, I have driven many kids around and have always found it comfortable. I have had it five years now and it runs fine, no problems at all. I do get regular oil changes and keep up with the service schedule. For servicing I go to Hanlees Toyota in Hilltop, Richmond. Their service is outstanding! anon

What timing! As I type this, my Honda Odyssey is at the dealership getting its THIRD (yes, third!) transmission, and it is only 6 years old. The last one lasted less than 3 years and 40k miles. I absolutely HATE my Odyssey and would advise you to stay away! I have had so many problems with the Odyssey (I have posted here before about them), I don't even know where to begin. Besides transmission problems (admitted by the company), they have had problems with their doors. One of our sliding doors currently needs to be repaired, at $350, because it grinds terribly when it opens/closes. The doors also do not open if it is too cold. Also, there are times when, even though the sliding doors are closed, the door alarm does not turn off and the only way to make it stop is to disable the automatic doors (there is a switch you can press so that they don't open automatically). We originally chose the Odyssey because we had owned Hondas before and had good luck with them, they have a ''reputation'' for being reliable, and when we bought our minivan the Sienna that was out was the smaller model and we wanted a bigger minivan. We know people who have Odysseys from the same time period who have had many problems as well. So, I would go for the Sienna. I will never buy another Honda. Hate my Odyssey

We love our Honda Odyssey. We bought it 6 years ago, and it is our only car for a 3 kid family with a lot of friends and relatives to tote around and lend it to. Plus carpools, and vacations. I can't even remember the last time we had to get anything fixed. The only time we've taken it in, other than the regular maintenance checks, has been a couple times when the ''engine light'' has come on. It is so reliable. I really appreciate not ever having to worry about the car. I've never owned a car that was just a non-problem like this one. It's comfortable. It's easy to drive. It holds a ton of stuff. We did try out the Sienna which is very similar but we just liked the way the Honda handles better. I suggest you test drive both of them. There are happy customers on both sides. When this one finally wears out we'll be getting another one. Happy Honda driver

Definitely the Odyssey. We pick that one because it comes with side air bags. Very important! Georgina

We bought our Honda Odyssey new in 2001. At the time, it was the only minivan with the deep well in the boot - great for groceries, suitcases and general hauling. We found it to have more headroom than the Sienna, and we just liked the all-around space and flow among the seats better. Not sure how the models have changed since then. Having had an Acura Legend for 16 years, we were already partial to Honda engines, so that was another factor. We've had only very minor problems with the Odyssey to date, but that may be because we elected to go with the old fashioned manual sliding doors instead of the automatic. Happy Honda owner

You didn't say why you are comparing only these two minivans. There are many to choose from. My family recently bought one, the Hyundai Entourage. It is safer, higher quality/better warranty, bigger, much quieter, as powerful, more comfortable, and about $10K cheaper than comparably equipped Hondas or Toyotas.

Tire chains for Honda minivan

Dec 2004

We recently bought a Honda Odyssey and are now looking for chains for it for the snow - which we drive in several times a year. The dealer had us sign something about voiding our warranty if we use chains. Does anyone have any experience with this - what do you use? Do the chains really do some irreparable damage? I have heard of spike-spiders - an alternative to chains but they are quite expensive. Any input welcome. Going to the snow

You can't use traditional chains, but you can use 'cable' chains. They are chains, not spiders, but they're thinner and flatter than the regular ones. They work fine. Another Ody Driver

Bought a new Odyssey lately?

February 2002

has anyone bought a new honda odyssey recently? is there still a 3 month wait time? where can i get the best price these days: from a dealer (which one?) or on-line? suzie

We purchased a Honda Odyssey in mid November. It was a rush purchase, as our car had ''died''. We test drove at Doten in Berkeley, but we never negotiated seriously with them. Rather, we went to, as recommended by a coworker. We picked the car up at Doten that day having received what we felt was a good price. However, I heard from someone last weekend that it is difficult to find an Odyssey, even to test drive, at a dealership right now, so I can't speak to the current wait. Odyssey Owner

I used to sell cars. Now, I occasionally help friends when they want to buy a car. I have a friend who just bought an Odyssey. We found it at a dealership in Redding and there was very little wait time and we were able to get if for MSRP. Most dealers are now selling them from $1000 - $5000 over MSRP. sharon

This was more than 3 years ago, but we bought our Honda Odyssey from El Cerrito Honda during their President's Day Sale. We ended up getting a great deal by first getting an online quote (from Anderson Honda) and then calling El Cerrito and asking if they'd match the price. The sales guy not only agreed, but he gave us an additional $100 off if we completed the deal by the end of the day. Since we were prepared to do just that, we ended up getting our Odyssey for just a few hundred over invoice (but, like I said, this was several years ago.. 2nd year release, I think). Your mileage may vary, but I'd give a shot at getting a quote online and then calling around the local dealerships to see if they'd match the price. It worked for us. Odyssey owner

We bought one in November and used, and were shocked to find out that the best deal to be had was for $500 *over* MSRP! We called around to every dealer in a 100 mile radius (a lot of dealers) and confirmed that this was the best deal unless we were willing to wait for months. The local Autobytel dealer was in Berkeley--they sell a lot of Odysseys and seem to have the best prices. At least we love our car; I still think it was worth it. Good luck. anonymous

Hi Suzie, we just bought a '02 Honda Odyssey last month, and my husband searched over hill and dale to find the ''best bargain''. SO much so, that even though we live in El Cerrito, he drove to San Jose to buy the Odyssey from a dealer who was only charging $750 over sticker instead of $1000 which seemed to be ''the going rate'' for most other Bay Area dealers. We did not want to do the 3-month wait, so we took whatever color was on the lot, and drove that car off same-day. My husband talked to a lot of dealers and got quotes from them on-line, but most of them had the same numbers (like a cartel) of $1000 over sticker. That may be changing in the next couple of months because apparently Honda has upped production, so there should be more Odyssey's on the lot which may start bringing the price ''over sticker'' down, so you may be starting to look at the right time. Also, in general, our impression was, El Cerrito Honda (slimy), Oakland Honda (some room for negotiation, but big on being put on the waiting list), Marin Honda (no room for negotiation, but more up-front salespeople-- not as slimy), Concord Honda (no room for negotiation), Sunnyvale Honda (definitely room for negotiation), dwntn San Jose Honda (room for negotiation when they have cars on the lot-- this is where we eventually bought). All in all, a tiresome experience, but we agree that the Odyssey is worth it-- it is by far the roomiest mini-van, though we have found the gas mileage to be a bit depressing-- definitely around 18 mpg. Good luck. LUISA

I recently purchased a Honda Oddessey. We used a car broker and only had to wait for about 3 weeks. The way it works is that you pay him a small fee (I think it was $200) and he finds the best possible price for the exact car that you want. Once he finds the car, it is driven/shipped to his Sausalito office, where you pick it up. Once you are there, he simply goes over the paperwork and you leave. The whole thing took less than 30 minutes--the most painless car buying experience that I have ever had. The man's name is David Shapiro, and his company is called Cartillegent. I don't know the number offhand, but his website is: (He can help people find any type of car.) Best wishes, Michelle

We just bought an Odyssey after looking for about a year. We did LOTS of research. The truth is, it is nearly impossible to get one for under $1000 over MSRP. But don't pay anything over that either. We contacted many dealers and websites. I always said I would never pay MSRP, but, if you must, the Odyssey is worth it. We absolutely love it. You do not need to be put on a waiting list because dealers periodically get unsold ones on the lot. But they do sell in a day or two. Tim from El Cerrito Honda is a good honest guy. Very helpful and definately didn't try to scam us. Good Lock! Liza

We managed to get an Odyssey within a couple of days because there happened to be one at Jim Doten Honda in Berkeley. Other dealerships had none on the lot to even test drive and had waiting lists to buy. It seems that the demand is so great that there is not much room for negotiation, so we bargained as much as we could and then just went for it. Other then the emotional trauma of now owning a ''mini-van'', it's a great vehicle! anonymous

More advice about the Odyssey

April 2000

We are considering buying a minivan and are perhaps interested in the Honda Odyssey. As many of you know, it is virtually impossible to actually find one in a dealer showroom, as they are so popular. We are not able to buy one sight unseen, however (even if we wanted to), because my husband, Ned, uses a wheelchair and we need to know whether he can get in and out of the car and also whether his chair will fit in the back. The Toyota Sienna is not an option for us because the space behind the third seat is not big enough for his chair and we need six seatbelts, so can't take one of the seats out. Our request, therefore, is if anyone owns a 1999 or 2000 Odyssey and is willing to let us try it out for 10 minutes we would greatly appreciate it. All we need to do is for Ned to try getting in and out of the driver's seat and for me to try putting his chair in the back. We live in Southside Berkeley (near Telegraph and Ashby) and would be happy to come to wherever you are. Thanks very much, Lucy

I just bought a 2000 EX model Oydessy. After much research, the only place that I have found that actually has Oydessy's on the lot is at Stockton Honda on Hammer Lane. Their phone number is: (209) 320-6700. For some reason they seem to get at least 3-4 a week. Give them a call. They are very nice. If you still need to try out the Oydessy, send me an e-mail and we can see if we can get together. Kathy

We bought an Odyssey in June 00. Here's what we did: we test-drove the Honda and the Toyota, and settled on the Honda because we liked the way it drives better, and we liked the way the back seat folds down. None of the dealers within a reasonable driving distance of Berkeley had them in the lot. So we called 5 or 6 dealers in the area, told them what we were looking for, and asked them to call us when one came in. None of them would take a deposit or give any kind of guarantee, and most said it would be a wait of 4-6 weeks. However, within 2 weeks we got a call, from El Cerrito Honda, telling us if we could come over in the next hour, they had one for us. So we did, and we got it. We set the loan up in advance with our credit union so we were ready to make the purchase whenever one came in. In the next 3 weeks a couple more called us, but we'd already bought one. As far as I can tell, all the dealers offered pretty much the same price. The demand is greater than the supply, so you are not going to get a deal, and you must take the color that is offered unless you really want to wait. We are really happy with our minivan. It drives like a small car, which is what I wanted, is actually fun to drive, and maneuvers just as well as my old 74 Volvo station wagon, though it will not do a U-ee in a two lane street, but it almost will. The really great part is now we can take the kids and the grammas to lunch and everyone has a comfortable place to sit. Kids can bring their friends now if we go to the beach. And the deep well in the back behind the rear seats holds shrubs and bushes from the nursery without having to turn them on their sides, or bend the tops over, like in a station wagon. The back seats collapse easily to make a large continuous flat bed for loading furniture or wood or whatever. And the climate control system is fantastic. Ginger

This is for the family who doesn't want to pay over dealer invoice for a Honda Odyssey. We just bought one, and had to pay over invoice. However, there was a dealer in Petaluma/Santa Rosa that was taking people's names and selling Odysseys at their cost. When we called they had 150 names on the list and they planned to tack on a $2,000 surcharge for the 2000 Odysseys. Before we bought our car, we did get a lower-than-average price quoted to us from a dealer on That was early in our search and we didn't jump on it and consequently had to pay more. In short, if you want the car at dealer cost you'll have to wait a long time. Incidentally, we love our new van. I never knew I had so much stuff to haul! Franny

Can anybody recommend any honest, straight forward Honda Dealers in the area (or out of the area). We are looking into to buying an Odyssey Van a basic LX model for our growing family needs, and refuse to pay above sticker price. The dealers we have called claimed they are not taking waiting lists anymore and say that all vans are at least $1,000-$2,000 over MSRP. This is a big purchase for us. Any advice? Thanks.

Cornelia Honda has priced the Odysseys at a low price but limits the supply in order to increase the demand. I was on the waiting list from February at Jim Doten, through this Auto-By-Tel program. Then when the Odyssey came in May, Jim Doten's wanted a response on the spot, increased the price to $26,000 (MSRP was $23,000). They were just so greedy.

I ended up buying an Isuzu Oasis for about $23,000. The Isuzu is actually the 1998 Honda Odyssey, which is smaller with non sliding doors and a four cylinder engine. It is made by Honda, but sold by Isuzu. It's smaller than the 1999 Honda sliding doors and six cylinders and is classified as a station wagon. I really liked the dealer in San Leandro, who I contacted by phone, using the AAA discount I test drove one and in one-two weeks I had the model I wanted. Good Luck!

I saw the recommendation that was posted today and wanted to let you know my experience with the local Honda dealerships. This was from 1995, and I was purchasing my first car, a Honda Civic.

I found the salesperson at the Berkeley Jim Doten's Honda to be very nice and not pushy; he may have been new I think. I had done my research, told him about it by listing point by point why he should accept my offer, and knew my price was reasonable. It was his manager that I didn't like. Still, in the end, my offer was accepted.

I definitely did not like the salesperson at El Cerrito. He was very pushy and kept asking me to pay some outrageous amount. Then, later he called me, and again asked me if I was still interested. I happily told him I got my car at the price I originally offered.

Sometimes I take my car to Jim Doten's when I have problems with the car. JIm Doten's is probably more expensive, but I like the service and attention they give, plus it's convenient for me. They have always been very polite to me. I have also gone to Berkeley Minicar for service. Berkeley Minicar has been recommended by many people on the UCB Parents list.

Dennis In the process of buying a late model used Civic, my wife and I visited a number of Honda dealers in the area. We were very displeased by our treatment at Jim Doten Honda - the salesman acted very disinterested in us and actually lied to us about all the work they do to certify used cars (he claimed they put all new tires on all of them, despite the fact that I was looking at what were obviously the used original equipment tires). He made little effort to sell us the car we were interested in and had the attitude that the cars would sell themselves (which to a great extent is true with Hondas).

The salesman we encountered at Honda of Oakland was pleasant enough, but I would avoid them because they add a protection package, which is essentially about $10 worth of rubber strips along the doors and fender wells, some Scotch guard sprayed on the upholstery, and I believe floormats are thrown in as well. For this they charge you several hundred dollars, and they do it to all the cars in their inventory so you have little choice. This tells you a lot about their intention to gouge the customer.

At Honda of El Cerrito I only saw the used cars, and the salesman I talked was a nice guy and was really interested in getting me to buy the car I checked out. In fact he called me back several times to find out if I was still interested in seeing any of their other cars. If they had had an acceptable used car in stock, we might have bought from them. However, they are part of the same auto dealer group as Honda of Oakland (Hendrick) and so they may add extra charges to their new cars too.

Our best experience was at Hansel Honda in Petaluma. It's a bit of a drive, but it was worth it in the end. The salesman was very friendly and very interested in selling us the car we wanted. The dealership does not seem intent on ripping the customer off or just letting the cars sell themselves. We had a friend who bought a car from them and kept going back for service and then bought from them again. It was a totally different experience when compared to our visit to Jim Doten.

As for not paying over sticker price on the Odyssey, you may have a hard time since they are so popular. You might try an auto pricing service (like the Auto Club has) where certain participating dealers will give you a good price ahead of time without haggling. You might do better bargaining on your own (if you are really good at it), but the pre-arranged price is usually fair. Or you can try an on-line service like Autobytel, where you order a car at a given price, usually some amount over dealer invoice but less than sticker price, and you simply use the dealer to pick up your car. A friend of ours bought an Accord this way, and picked it up at Jim Doten (he wouldn't have dealt with them otherwise). Good luck.