If you are looking for a list of Odyssey specifications please check one of the many other resources devoted to this such as www.Edmunds.com or Consumer Reports magazine. This review is strictly an opinion from one user’s point of view after having driven this van for just over 3 months. It was similar information from other consumers that helped me make my buying decision and now I would like to share my thoughts and experiences.
About 4 years ago my husband and I decided that our next vehicle would be a minivan. We were tired of trying to carry 4-foot by 8-foot plywood boards home on the roof of a Ford Probe while we each climbed half out the window and hung on for dear life. We were tired of trying to bring home 5-foot tall trees for landscaping in the back of a hatchback. Even taking a TV to repair shop was an ordeal. We felt we needed a minivan rather than a pickup truck because we occasionally have out of town visitors whom we must chauffeur around and we take our turn providing rides for those unable to drive to our church.
At the time we decided that we wanted a minivan, the Chrysler products were the best. We were considering a Dodge Caravan or a Chrysler Voyager. I would regularly read the reviews on these products, check Consumer Reports each year, and try to follow all the latest developments in this part of the industry. When Honda originally came out with the Odyssey we dismissed it since it did not seem to be as good as the Chrysler minivans. It was smaller and less powerful, only 4 cylinders, and seemed put together in a hurry.
Well, one advantage to taking 4 years to make a decision was that things change. The Odyssey was completely redesigned in 1999 and everything I read seemed to say that this was the minivan that all the others should have been. I still wasn’t sure and began reading every web site, news article, review, bulletin board, and magazine that compared the various minivans. It sure seemed like Honda had a winner. I had already owned 2 Honda Accords which ran well and ran forever with no major problems so we were familiar with Honda in general and pleased with their products to this point.
The Odyssey seems to be priced higher than other minivans and one thing I learned from all the bulletin board posts was that there was very little room for negotiation, selling for more than MSRP in many parts of the country. It took about 6 months of research before I was finally convinced that this was the vehicle for us.
The absolute deal clincher was the disappearing back seat. Our garage barely fits 2 vehicles and some garden tools. Where in the world would we store the third seat when we needed the van to haul things? (No basement either) This seemed to be a godsend for us. We wouldn’t have to decide whether to bring the seat or not. It’s always there when we need it and always can be folded away in about 30 seconds. Several times a year we drive 500 miles to visit family often taking or bringing many packages. Once we arrive we can now transport 7 adults easily and still carry home a side of beef (frozen, of course).
The next best thing about the Odyssey is that we did not have to decide whether the second seat should be a bench seat or two bucket seats. The Odyssey’s second seat converts from one to the other in about 2 minutes. As bucket seats each one has 2 armrests – a true luxury for me.
As we did more research we realized that the Odyssey was priced higher than other minivans but many of the options on the other vans are included with the Odyssey, making the price much more competitive. Our EX has a 6 speaker CD player, electronic rear doors, electronic driver seat adjustment, 9 cup holders (6 reachable from the front seats), and nooks and crannies for storage that I have yet to discover including seat back pockets on four seats. But probably the item I use most is the passenger side “Oh My God!” bar just above the door. My husband is a good driver but I feel more comfortable with something to hang on to.
Since we had both owned passenger cars all our lives we were pleasantly surprised by the ride of the minivan. It drives smoothly and comfortably, maneuvers as easily as my Accord, and doesn’t feel too big. (Once when I had reserved a mid-sized rental car I was given a Lincoln Town Car. I HATED driving it. It was so unmanageable.) The Odyssey is very easy to adjust to. A side benefit is that you sit up so high you can see through the windshields of most pickups, SUV's and other vans making for better informed and safer driving.
Of course nothing is perfect. The Odyssey has a few minor trouble spots. The automatic sliding doors are slow. This is not a big problem for us but if you have teens and tweens they may not have the patience to wait for the door to open. Manual doors may be better for that age group. (The Odyssey LX has manual doors.) The fuel efficiency is about 16 to 17 mpg in the city and 20 to 24 mpg on the highway. Unfortunately, most of our driving is around town. This is a bit of a shock as we got rid of a Ford Probe getting 30 mpg around town. Probably the least desirable feature of the Odyssey is the lack of availability of them. We waited 3 months for our color to arrive (emerald green). Some parts of the country the wait was up to 6 months but I believe this is getting a little better now.
Overall, I would buy this vehicle again and again. I’ve actually asked my husband if we could trade my Accord in and get a second Odyssey and I was only half joking. The conveniences far outweigh any of the small nuisances and it sure was worth the wait. I would recommend the Odyssey to anyone needing more room and flexibility than a midsize sedan. You don’t need to be a soccer mom. We are middle-aged baby boomers with no kids of our own.
The actual negotiation and purchasing decision is a topic for another opinion.