How bout the Honda Odyssey

This summer we rented a mini van to go on a trip. It was a Pontiac Montana. It was a nice van, very responsive in traffic and plenty of room. We were interested in buying one and went shopping after the trip was over. While looking at the Montana and other vans (Ford Windstar, Chevy Venture, Dodge Caravan) we happened upon a Honda Odyssey. It seemed the perfect car for us. So I began researching it on the internet and stumbled upon Wow, they had a number of opinions on it mostly good, but some bad. I tried to read them all, but concentrated mostly on the bad. It turned out the bad were really bad. Gas tanks igniting from static electricity; doors that will no longer slide open, dealers who are deaf to any complaints.

I’d appreciate some Straight Dope on this, or any other mini-van. Thank you.


As a Honda owner, you will most definitely find the dealers to be deaf to any complaints. Honda sells cars and minivans almost as fast as they can make them, and consequently customer satisfaction is not a high priority for them. Last year I bought a (new) Accord, and found it to be the most unpleasant experience I ever had. Everyone from the manager on down really didn’t care if I bought the car or not, because other customers were actually waiting around for their turn to talk with a salesman

The experience after I bought the car was even worse. After I drove away, I became one of the great unwashed masses again. You would like a tube of touch-up paint? Make an appointment with service. The ashtray was missing? Make an appointment with service. At one point, I was actually refused an appointment with the service department. I called to complain of ill-fitting plastic trim around the doors and windshield, and they told me it was not important enough for them to see my car. They insisted on telling me over the phone how to fix it myself.

This was pretty much the case with all five of the dealers in my area. To be fair, only one dealer refused to see my car for the minor repairs. That was the highest-volume dealership in the state, so if the one you’re going to is the same, look out.

Of course, this is all my experience. YMMV.

why would you want purchase an import automobile? unless you want to slam it, put a body kit on it, engine mods, and ultimately turn it into a $70,000 race car?

Is there a particular reason not to purchase an import? I don’t see why country of manufacturer should be a major factor in the purchase decision.

Back to the OP - I found that reading on-line messages from owners is very deceiving. If you mass-produce a product there are bound to be some lemons, some impolite employees and maybe some disasters, and people stuck with those are understandably very vocal on the Internet. It doesn’t necessarily mean much.

Bear in mind that frequently it’s the angry people who find time to post an opinion on an Internet MB, so I think you’re seeing a slanted viewpoint. Google, “consumer reports honda odyssey”. Hit #1.

A Google search for “gas tank ignite Honda odyssey” generated only five (5) hits, and turned up this.

It’s a summary of “gas cap” and “refueling” fires, from NHTSA data, and goes back to 1993. There’s one (1) report of a Honda Odyssey suffering a refueling fire. The summary is halfway down, and for your purposes, it’s important to note the following:

The Honda Odyssey is mentioned in the second part, under “NHTSA’s 17 Other Refueling Fires”, and evidently all that Joe Honda Owner felt like putting in the “tell us exactly what happened?” blank was this gem:

:rolleyes: No shit, Sherlock.

Changing the search string to “gas ignite Honda Odyssey” turned up only 22 hits, none of which were relevant. If there are Honda Odyssey “gas tanks” plural out there that are igniting from static electricity, it’s news to Google.

I own a '98 Honda Odyssey and am very pleased with the car and the dealer.
I bought the '98 Honda because the '99’s were going to be bigger (garage space with our other minivan being a major factor.) I wanted a ‘98 because of the size and the 150hp engine. Previous years’ Odyssey’s had a 135hp engine and some online concerns were that they were slightly underpowered.
I did a lot of research online, including going between a few dealers over pricing. I eventually got one to go for $75 over wholesale invoice. I took my wife to the local dealer (who did not have an online sales dept. at that point) to test drive the Odyssey. After the test drive, I told the sales guy that I was just test driving and that I already was dealing online. He asked the price I was quoted and said if he could match it, would we be willing to buy it from him. He did and we did.
The Odyssey is basically an Accord with a minivan body and drives like an Accord. The greatest feature is the fold-down rear seat. After wrestling with Chrysler’s 2 very heavy benches to adjust the seating, being able to do it one-handed in less than a minute is heaven.
The Odyssey replaced my 16 year-old Honda Civic wagon which was still running perfectly, but had no air conditioning and we basically just outgrew it.
I’m not familiar with the newer, bigger Odysseys, but I’m a huge fan of my '98.

normally i’d reply, but i’ll save that for a later thread, maybe something in BBQP

My wife drives a 98 Odyssey which is the older smaller model. No problems at all at 50k miles. I have a Civic with 30k miles and no problems. You pay more for a Honda but you get higher resale when you sell and great reliability.

No matter what you buy you should consider buying via a website. I used and got a great deal - my car was hard to get and I still got a great deal. You may not get the absolute best deal possible but the deal is normally very good. They give you a price that you don’t have to haggle over. You can also take the web site price and ask local dealers to beat that deal - some may beat it and some may not.

My wife drives a 98 Odyssey which is the older smaller model. No problems at all at 50k miles. I have a Civic with 30k miles and no problems. You pay more for a Honda but you get higher resale when you sell and great reliability. Unless you are under warranty there is no need to go to the dealer for service. Find a good local mechanic , there may even be one that works only on Hondas and Acuras in your area. Dealers just charge more and they aren’t any better.

No matter what you buy you should consider buying via a website. I used and got a great deal - my car was hard to get and I still got a great deal. You may not get the absolute best deal possible but the deal is normally very good. They give you a price that you don’t have to haggle over. You can also take the web site price and ask local dealers to beat that deal - some may beat it and some may not.

Hondas are very nice cars, if you don’t like cars and don’t know anything about them. However, Honda dealers are another story. frobozz is absolutely spot-on with his description of the treatment you’ll get before and after the sale.

Because the zillions of folks who don’t know an alternator from a frammistan have been brainwashed into believing that Honda=indestructible, there are plenty of sheep out there for the dealers to fleece. Add to this American Honda Motor Corporation’s recent problems when it was revealed that top execs were extorting money and gifts from dealers in exchange for allocations of hot sellers and special consideration from zone offices and you have a recipe for fleecing unmatched by the worst of the System dealerships back in the bad old days.

In my experience, stepping into a Honda dealership is like walking into a time warp and ending up in a Big Three store circa 1960-all the salesman needs is a loud sportcoat and a Frieden Okie-charmer to complete the tableau. After-sale service? Fugheddaboudit. When the transmission in my sister-in-law’s brother’s Integra self-destructed at 250 miles it took three months of threats and cajoling as well as a ream of nastygrams from the state Attorney General’s office to get the dealer to even pull the car out of the back lot into the service department!

Hondas are no better and no worse than any other car on the market today. They’re not indestructible and they need the same maintenence any other automobile does. They are generally screwed together a bit better than the average automobile. But there are lemon Hondas out there too. My SIL’s brother’s car is a case in point. Long story short, Honda bought it back after we did everything except hold the dealer and zone manager at gunpoint but that was a battle I never want to fight again.

That being said, anyone who still thinks GM, Ford and Chrysler assemble their cars by standing ten feet away from the assembly line and throwing parts in the general direction of the chassis probably hasn’t set foot in a Big Three showroom in the last 20 years. There are lots of minivans out there and even the venerated Odyssey is a clone of the last-generation Chrysler package. If you like it and it works for you, go for it. But shop for the dealer very carefully.

That’s just my opinion, I may be wrong.


It is true that Honda dealers are full of high school dropout care salesmen who are basically con men - just like most other dealers for Ford, GM, Chrysler, Toyota, Nissan , etc.

The nice thing about buying a car over the web is you pretty much avoid all those jerks - you only deal with them to pick up your car. In my case the dealer was 50 miles away (my car was hard to find) but they did deliver the car to me, I never set foot in their showroom. If you enjoy dealing with salesmen then the web is not for you. But I think very few people actual prefer all the silly arguing over car prices.

I’m with you slick. I’m biting my tongue.


Whatever else you want to say about them, Hondas retain their value. That makes them a smart buy (although I would not get a Passport, their larger SUV. Not a good product). We are committed Honda buyers and while I loathe our dealer, I don’t rely on them for much other than standard service (which is fine). I do a lot of research on the internet (including pricing) and go onto the sales floor without having to listen to a lot of B.S. from the salesmen. Don’t let crappy salesmen keep you from getting a car you believe to be a good match for your needs and standards.

We had a great experience reselling our Civic when we bought our CR-V. It’s nice to own a car that other people believe is reliable–it makes it much much easier to get a high price for.

Anecdotally I know many people who love their Odysseys. I have also heard numerous good things about the Toyota Siena, so you might look at that too. Along the same lines (anecdotally) I know a lot of people who are miserable with their domestic minivans. I know the US invented the concept but until I meet more people who love theirs, I am going to continue to believe that Mazda, Toyota, and Honda carry out the concept better.

I have a 2000 Honda Odyssey. It now has about 40K miles on it, and the only problem I occasionally have is that the rear door doesn’t always shut on the first try.

Other than that I, I really enjoy the vehicle. Before buying the OdysseyI spent lots of time at reading through the comments of lots of people in their town hall, and it was a veritable love fest.

Here’s a link Edmunds Honda Odyssey Page

The Honda Passport is made by Isuzu, they just rebadge it. I don’t think it sells well so it probably won’t last too much longer. There is some talk Honda will start building pickups but that is not certain yet.

Some anecdotal evidence to Honda quality…

I’ve had two. The first Civic Si I bought used in 1990 with about 30,000 miles on it. I traded it in in 1994 with 167,000 miles on it, AND got $4500 for it. Yeah, they hold their value. Then only thing I ever did was changed the oil on-schedule and the brakes as needed.

The second (for which I traded in the first) was a 95 EX, brand new. I put almost 70,000 on it, again, with no maintenance other than that pesky oil. Two years later, I traded it in for more than the used, quasi-luxury American car I decided to replace it with (with fewer miles on it). Again, it held its value.

On the other hand, depsite being a foreign brand, these were both made in Ohio, USA.

On my other other hand (I have many), I now work for the US auto industry, so I really do urge you to consider American brands in your search. Did I mention I have four “friends and neighbor” plans left over for CY2001? Yes, for just 4% over employee price, you can get a non-negotiable, low, fixed price on the vehicle you want from a certain US manufacturer, with no arguing, bickering, or nasty visits to the “sales manager’s” office. All you need is a PIN…

This thread could go in any number of forums, but it’s here. So let’s stick to the General Question about known and suspected defects in the Honda Odyssey, hmmkay?

I bought a Toyota Sienna for my wife 3 months ago, and she’s real happy with it.
When I was looking to buy a minivan, the only ones I seriously considered were the Honda and the Toyota. Honda wanted a minimum of $26,000 for thiers, with a waiting list. Toyotas were going for $22,000 well equipped. In stock.
I’ve driven my wifes van many times. The engine is very powerful and smooth. The only negatives about the van is that the style is kind of bland.