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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I test drove a 2011 EX-L yesterday and another today with NAV. I have owned a Lexus RX300 for the past 11 years. I've been happy with it and could still be happy with it but I would love to get a mini-van so have been shopping them over the past couple of years and waited patiently for the Sienna to get a redesign and then because I was so disappointed in it I waited for the Odyssey.

I've never owned a Honda. My first two cars were Nissan Maximas (kept each for 6 yrs) and then the Lexus for 11 years. I had not bought the previous Odyssey because I though the seating was hard and uncomfortable. In addition I felt the interior noise was too loud. I did love the storage options. Previous Siennas I looked at drove poorly (funny noises in the engine, poor/noisy shifting) which caused me too much concern to give up my reliable Lexus. For what it is worth, here is my take on the Odyssey.

Pros:
I really loved the look. From what I've read on-line it appears many do not. But what can I say, I do. Based on looks alone I would buy this mini-van.

The dash is well laid out. I had an easier time adjusting the radio/satellite music system than I do on my Lexus, even after 11 years. I enjoyed the options on the trip computer.

The interior felt like it was higher quality than the Sienna and the Sedona which I have also test driven.

The seats were comfortable. The steering wheel has an excellent driving position for me with it's long telescope. I'm tall but my arms are short for my height.

I liked the ability to remove the 2nd row seating and the fold down for the 3rd row into the floor.

I tend to like getting all the technical gadgets so like the back-up camera, the auto hatch, auto doors etc.

The inside seemed relatively quiet with respect to wind noise on the highway.

The shifting, acceleration, braking and handling were all excellent!

Cons:
The EX-Ls I test drove were fairly rough riding. Maybe the tires were inflated too high. Hard to say what caused it, but I felt each and every crack in the pavement. Based on the professional review I had expected a better ride. I'm going to test drive a Touring tomorrow and hoping it rides better.

The windshield and both side windows or side mirrors were pretty distorted on both van's I test drove. I would not buy one with such distortion as it was really annoying my eyes. In addition the side view mirrors are very small. Much smaller than what I would expect for basic safety.

The sound system seemed sub-par to me. I understand the Elite Touring is a higher model but the EX-L with Nav is a high enough price that I expected a better sound system.

The red pearl is too dark. I know this is nit-picking but I would love it to be a little more red.

If the ride and the windshield check out Ok on the Touring I may be buying a 2011. However I'm very tempted to wait until 2012 because I really want the keyless ignition and hopefully Honda will incorporate it for 2012. For me this is a very attractive feature.

Thanks for reading!

Oh, one comment on the Honda dealer video on another post comparing the Sienna and the Honda. If you want to see cheap cut carpet look at the carpet in second row of the Odyssey. They used what is likely a box cutter to cut a big round hole in the carpet where they put a little cheap spare tire. The dealer couldn't even get it out on the 2011 Odyssey I looked at. I imagine putting it in and out once it is dirty (been used) will really mark up the rear seat and the carpet area. Talk about poor quality design! And of course there is no room to put your used tire when your using the spare so it will have to go in the back and get that dirty and marked up. Overall I did feel the Odyssey had a higher quality interior but I think anyone watching that biased video should take it with a grain of salt. If they wanted to find things to pick on the spare tire arrangement in the 2011 Odyssey is a good one. To protect your interior everyone would have to carry something to wrap their dirty (potentially wet and muddy) tire in should they need to use the spare since there is no place to put it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
Touring review

I went to test drive the Touring today. It did drive over the bumps better. I asked about the tire air pressure and they said they check/adjust it before putting it on the lot. So I decided to retest drive an EX-L. It also drove nicer. However the tire pressure low pressure warning was going off so the tires may have been too low. Interestingly enough neither had a distorted windshield like the previous 2 I test drove.

There was a roof rack on the Touring and it had noticeable wind noise at higher speeds. Surprisingly the EX-L also had some unexpected wind noise that I hadn't found the day before. Maybe it was the angle the wind was coming from.

The Touring shifted at odd point and very frequently. The EX-L had less noticeable shifting.

The end results of my evaluation are that I am undecided. After I test drove at the Honda dealer I went over to the Toyota dealer to retest drive the Sienna. The Sienna was quieter, more comfortable and had more technical gadgets. The Odyssey has superior styling and a more intuitive/better layout of the dash controls. It also seemed more fun to drive while the Sienna felt more luxurious. I just don't like the traditional mini-van styling on the Sienna.

Maybe I'll wait until the Odyssey comes out with the keyless ignition as I am more interested in the Odyssey.

If anyone else test drove both the Odyssey Touring and the EX-L I would be interested if you found either a smoother ride.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Even though...

Even though I absolutely love the new Odyssey styling I'm going to wait until the new Town and Country comes out, just to see if they improved it enough to make it a competitor.

Here is a first drive review.
http://blogs.cars.com/kickingtires/2010/11/2011-chrysler-town-country-first-drive.html

The list of standard features includes things like the blind spot sensor on the base model along with a whole host of other desirable items. And I like the fact that all the seats store in the floor. Also I can get my much coveted keyless ignition. But who knows how it will drive. Also I've never before even considered a domestic as I'm a stickler for good quality. We'll see.....
 

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Re: Even though...

mic111 said:
Even though I absolutely love the new Odyssey styling I'm going to wait until the new Town and Country comes out, just to see if they improved it enough to make it a competitor.

Here is a first drive review.
http://blogs.cars.com/kickingtires/2010/11/2011-chrysler-town-country-first-drive.html

The list of standard features includes things like the blind spot sensor on the base model along with a whole host of other desirable items. And I like the fact that all the seats store in the floor. Also I can get my much coveted keyless ignition. But who knows how it will drive. Also I've never before even considered a domestic as I'm a stickler for good quality. We'll see.....
If you search the threads, you will find a review I've done of the 2011 models after several test drives in the EX-L and a couple of test drives in the Touring.

In summary, I really like the new Odyssey, I just wish it had less road noise. For $46K (in Canada), I wish it were quieter. The 2011 Sienna is a bit quieter, but neither of the vans are as quiet inside as the rich cabins would make you think when you first get into them.

Once I got used to that, it would be a Touring for me (vs the EX-L) as I like the toys and the 6 speed delivers crisper acceleration.

I think the ride in the touring was a bit firmer than the EX-L - which may be attributable to the 18" wheels (vs 17").

I've driven several examples of the Sienna and the Odyssey. For me the Odyssey would score a good 9/10 if it wasn't for the excessive road noise.

With respect to the windshield in the Touring, I didn't find it made a significant difference. Others might disagree. Most of the wind noise comes from the mirrors, roof rack, etc. Other outside noise (other vehicles, etc.) comes through the glass, but since the side glass doesn't have the acoustic feature, I don't think the windshield blocks much of that noise.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the input!

I really appreciate your input on which has the firmer/softer ride. It was very difficult to feel I made a good comparison when the EX-L had the low air pressure warning on. At the other dealer which didn't have a Touring the sales person said that the Touring had a rougher ride. However he also told me it had run flat tires so it was hard to believe anything he said.

I'll take a look at your other posts as I've just discovered how to do this on the forum.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Having thought about it over night...

Having thought about it over night I'm going to give the Town and Country a fair shot even if it is a Chrysler. The reason is that they seem to have their priorities straight with respect to providing safety features even at the lowest level. Their info states "Chrysler has bundled all its safety technology into the descriptively titled SafetyTec package. Standard on all 2011 T&Cs, it includes a blind-spot warning system, stability control, parking sensors, and more. "

The blind spot warning is only available on the highest trim level of the Odyssey. I like the philosophy of providing safety enhancing features to all, not just the very rich. In addition I think the side mirrors on the Odyssey are unnaturally small for the vehicle size. Combine that with the distortion in the glass and no electronic blind spot warning and there could be problems when trying to change lanes.
 

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Re: Having thought about it over night...

mic111 said:
Having thought about it over night I'm going to give the Town and Country a fair shot even if it is a Chrysler. The reason is that they seem to have their priorities straight with respect to providing safety features even at the lowest level. Their info states "Chrysler has bundled all its safety technology into the descriptively titled SafetyTec package. Standard on all 2011 T&Cs, it includes a blind-spot warning system, stability control, parking sensors, and more. "

The blind spot warning is only available on the highest trim level of the Odyssey. I like the philosophy of providing safety enhancing features to all, not just the very rich. In addition I think the side mirrors on the Odyssey are unnaturally small for the vehicle size. Combine that with the distortion in the glass and no electronic blind spot warning and there could be problems when trying to change lanes.
mic,

You can try the T&C, but you should know up front that the van just doesn't really compare with the Sienna and Odyssey.

I just had one for a rental (wasn't a T&C, but a more base model) last week and coming out of a 2008 Sienna (my current drive), it was a poor comparison.

I like bells and whistles the same as the next guy, but the first thing the van has to do is drive and handle well. It also has to have a quality interior and a good layout. To me, the Caravan fails in these categories in comparison to the 2011 offerings from Toyota and Honda.

The Chrysler van is less money and has stow able middle seats (you don't want to sit in them when they are up though), but the Honda is leaps and bounds above it. The Honda/Toyota get better mileage as well.

As to the safety enhancements, you don't get blind spot in the lower Chrysler models either. And, when it comes to safety, most of those features are not necessary for a safe drive. In my opinion it is getting a bit ridiculous, what with active cruise control, blind spot monitoring, 3 different types of rear camera display, etc. Non of that stuff is necessary for a "safe" drive. Airbags, structural integrity, good crash test results, abs brakes, traction control are the basics that all vehicles should have. As to the rest of the stuff, don't you think it dulls us to the job we have to do - watch out for the world moving around us while we are travelling down the road??
 

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Re: Thanks for the input!

mic111 said:
I really appreciate your input on which has the firmer/softer ride. It was very difficult to feel I made a good comparison when the EX-L had the low air pressure warning on. At the other dealer which didn't have a Touring the sales person said that the Touring had a rougher ride. However he also told me it had run flat tires so it was hard to believe anything he said.

I'll take a look at your other posts as I've just discovered how to do this on the forum.
No run flats on the touring. the ride difference was minimal. Personally, I thought the 2011 Odyssey rode quite well. The Sienna is a bit softer and quieter though. If you want the best steering feel, ride and interior noise levels, my vote is for the Sienna SE (if you can get past the looks of the exterior treatment - nose/tail lights, etc.)

As soon as they clear the snow off the roads in my city and the dealer has a Touring and an EX-L to test, I'm going to drive them back to back. I thought the EX-L was a bit quieter inside than the Touring, but it is hard to tell without a back to back comparison.

I'm taking my iPhone with me. It has a db meter app that while it might not be scientifically as accurate as a professional meter, will be able to pick up noise level differences between the vans.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
I agree with you

Shazzam,

We seem to be generating the same impressions when looking at the available offerings. Please let me know the results if you do get a good back-to-back test drive with the dB meter.

So far my favorite is the Honda Odyssey. I thought it drove very well. I did drive the EX-L and Touring back to back but due to circumstances (different route due to an accident and the EX-L having a low tire pressure warning light going off) I didn't think it was a good comparison.

Today I went to drive the 2010 Town and Country. Oh my gosh! It drove terribly. I put my foot on the gas on the expressway and could have sung a little song to myself waiting for it to accelerate. The handling was all over the place (seemed to wander about, not be responsive to the steering wheel and it kept pulling to the right). The seat hurt my back. So it was a no-go for me. The upside was the interior is alot nicer than the 2011 Sienna. However Chrysler says that they are addressing all of the above in the redesign so I'm going to take a look at the 2011 when it comes out.

I haven't driven a Sienna SE yet. It didn't seem to have the options I wanted and frankly there wasn't anything I loved about the Sienna. Not that it is not a good van just that there has to be at least one aspect I love for me to decide to get a new car. For instance with the Odyssey I love the looks and the feeling while steering it. Not the available options or the roughness of the ride.

If I do end up with a 2011 or 2012 Town and Country I will be very sorry to not have the Honda Odyssey styling as I am quite enamored with it.

Maybe I'll have to go search out a Sienna SE.

In terms of the blind spot monitoring I would agree with you if Honda had put on good sized mirrors without the distorted glass. However the set up they have now just begs for blind spot monitoring. :) I believe that the 2011 will have it in the lowest Chrysler model which it does not for the 2010. But who knows. When I see it I may chicken out as it is after all a Chrysler and they haven't been the most reliable and I do like reliable.
 

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Just one thing regarding the spare: our 2007 Honda comes with a bag to put the leaking tire in, so that prevents getting the interior dirty. However, the system they have for actually attaching the wheel is very convoluted, involving temporary hooks and bolts.

Enough to make me think that if i ever have to take a tire off Ill just leave it loose in he back...

Nicolas
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Nice!

Its nice that they provide a bag as I'm not sure I would have thought to think about it except I recently had a tire go flat and had to stick the used one in the wheel well in the back of my SUV.

For the 2011 Odyssey they have one of those tires that looks like it is for a motorbike for the spare. I think to get it out you would have to unload your kids from the second row seat since the dealer had trouble getting it out completely empty. With this set up one has to hope one gets a flat in a nice neighborhood on a non-busy street where it's safe to unload kids and babies. Then the dirty one has to go in the back since there is no room for a full sized tire in the spare tire well.

Thanks for the input!
 

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Re: I agree with you

mic111 said:
Shazzam,

We seem to be generating the same impressions when looking at the available offerings. Please let me know the results if you do get a good back-to-back test drive with the dB meter.

So far my favorite is the Honda Odyssey. I thought it drove very well. I did drive the EX-L and Touring back to back but due to circumstances (different route due to an accident and the EX-L having a low tire pressure warning light going off) I didn't think it was a good comparison.

Today I went to drive the 2010 Town and Country. Oh my gosh! It drove terribly. I put my foot on the gas on the expressway and could have sung a little song to myself waiting for it to accelerate. The handling was all over the place (seemed to wander about, not be responsive to the steering wheel and it kept pulling to the right). The seat hurt my back. So it was a no-go for me. The upside was the interior is alot nicer than the 2011 Sienna. However Chrysler says that they are addressing all of the above in the redesign so I'm going to take a look at the 2011 when it comes out.

I haven't driven a Sienna SE yet. It didn't seem to have the options I wanted and frankly there wasn't anything I loved about the Sienna. Not that it is not a good van just that there has to be at least one aspect I love for me to decide to get a new car. For instance with the Odyssey I love the looks and the feeling while steering it. Not the available options or the roughness of the ride.

If I do end up with a 2011 or 2012 Town and Country I will be very sorry to not have the Honda Odyssey styling as I am quite enamored with it.

Maybe I'll have to go search out a Sienna SE.

In terms of the blind spot monitoring I would agree with you if Honda had put on good sized mirrors without the distorted glass. However the set up they have now just begs for blind spot monitoring. :) I believe that the 2011 will have it in the lowest Chrysler model which it does not for the 2010. But who knows. When I see it I may chicken out as it is after all a Chrysler and they haven't been the most reliable and I do like reliable.
We've used Dodge Caravans as fleet vehicles in my company for years. There is one good reason: they are less expensive to buy. But everything, in my opinion, about them is lower quality. The seats, the steering, the interior layout and material, etc. And the biggest difference is the drive. It is no where as tight as the Sienna or Odyssey.

In 2008, after years of buying/leasing Dodge Caravans, I tried an Odyssey and a Sienna. I drove the Sienna first, then the Caravan. I was able to make a U turn in the Sienna (with a narrow median boulevard separating the two directions), while with the Caravan, I had to stop, back up and then pull forward to complete the turn. It sounds like a small thing, but the tighter turning radius of the Sienna makes parking in shopping center lots much easier.

In the end, we leased the Sienna. It was less expensive than the Honda (slightly) and while the Dodge was less than both, the buyout was lower so the payments were the same (the Caravan's depreciate more over 3 years).

As it turns out, the sales agent purchased his own car, so I took the Sienna for the balance of the lease. The van has been fine, except for the poor heater and airflow and a transmission that likes to slip at slow speeds that the dealer can't correct.

We'll get our Ontario sales manager either a base Honda or Toyota this time (his choice). The lease costs are competitive now and the fuel savings over the Caravan amount to about $250/year based on his mileage. If my experience with Sienna and Dodge is any experience, the imports will cost less to maintain as well.

An added consideration for those who lease; in Canada, Dodge doesn't have a traditional lease program.

Just a few thoughts. In the end, I'm sure you will pick the right van for you. With respect to the Sienna SE, you should try it. It is a nice drive, slightly better ride than the Odyssey and a bit quieter inside.

We'll probably get a Touring once I can get over the road noise issue. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Road noise

I also hate road noise. I'm wondering if you can do a little noise proofing on the Honda of your own. I sound insulated my RV doghouse and it made a huge difference. Not sure where the Odyssey's road noise is coming from but I also noticed it on my test drive. Wind noise seemed Ok the first time I tested it but in a version with the roof rack I noticed the wind noise quite a bit. Then again in one without the roof rack so I suspect that I didn't have wind blowing from the right direction on my earlier test drive to generate the noise.

Another option, which I saw on one of the Sienna forums, is to get a Sienna and SE it. Someone was telling how to put the SE parts on a regular Sienna to get the better handling. Now I'm feeling I really should hunt down an SE and give it a whirl.

Thanks for the input on the Dodge/Chrysler. I'm not holding my breath that they will have improved enough and if I go that direction I think it would be really wise to wait until 2012 to see how folks make out who buy the first year of the new design.
 

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Re: Road noise

mic111 said:
I also hate road noise. I'm wondering if you can do a little noise proofing on the Honda of your own. I sound insulated my RV doghouse and it made a huge difference. Not sure where the Odyssey's road noise is coming from but I also noticed it on my test drive. Wind noise seemed Ok the first time I tested it but in a version with the roof rack I noticed the wind noise quite a bit. Then again in one without the roof rack so I suspect that I didn't have wind blowing from the right direction on my earlier test drive to generate the noise.

Another option, which I saw on one of the Sienna forums, is to get a Sienna and SE it. Someone was telling how to put the SE parts on a regular Sienna to get the better handling. Now I'm feeling I really should hunt down an SE and give it a whirl.

Thanks for the input on the Dodge/Chrysler. I'm not holding my breath that they will have improved enough and if I go that direction I think it would be really wise to wait until 2012 to see how folks make out who buy the first year of the new design.
I doubt you can do much to fix the road noise. The driver's and passenger tire cutouts bulge right into the passenger compartment, which tells you how close the front wheels are to the cabin. While there is some direct noise transmission that might be helped by better (read heavier) insulation, some of the road noise is being transmitted through the control arms to body attachment points. I don't think there is anything we can do about that.

The luxury car manufacturers have gotten around this problem, partly by using sub assemblies for the suspension that are isolated from the main unibody to stop the transmission of noise, along with heavier sound insulation.

My dealer now has both an EX-L and a Touring on his lot so I'll be doing a back to back road test this week to see if there is any difference in noise levels.

No van is perfect though, so we'll probably opt for the Touring. I like the interior dash layout too much to pick the Sienna, although if I did, I'd pick the SE and forgo some of the options I'd like (RES, NAV). My wife doesn't really want either of those options though. As I wrote above, I have issues with the Sienna's heater.

It is -18C here today, so it is a good day to test both van's heaters.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Look forward to your assessment

I look forward to hearing about your test drives.

Your probably right on the noise proofing. At the very least it would likely involve taking apart the door panels and putting insulation in there but if the noise is coming through the wheel wells then that might not be affective.

What color are you leaning toward on the Odyssey? Are you planning on any options?
 

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Re: Look forward to your assessment

mic111 said:
I look forward to hearing about your test drives.

Your probably right on the noise proofing. At the very least it would likely involve taking apart the door panels and putting insulation in there but if the noise is coming through the wheel wells then that might not be affective.

What color are you leaning toward on the Odyssey? Are you planning on any options?
I like the "Truffle" interior color, so in Canada that means: Black, Silver, White. I'm leaning towards white, but we are also considering silver. Black is too high maintenance for me.

As to options, as we are selecting the Touring (same equipment as the Touring Elite in the US), I don't think we'll need any accessories other than; tow hitch and wiring, floor mats, mud guards. I might consider the remote starter, but only if the van doesn't warm up quickly from a cold start in our winter weather.

As soon as I get a minute, I'll hustle off to the dealer to do the back to back test.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Colors

Have you seen the Polished Metal Metallic? I thought that was quite a nice look. But it doesn't have the Truffle leather which I haven't seen yet.

If I were to get one it would be the Dark Cherry Pearl because I always like red. However I would prefer it came with one of the darker leather colors instead of just the light beige and I would love it if it were more red than maroon.

I think the vehicle is stunning in a number of colors. I especially like the chrome accents around the windows.

When I was in the show room a teenager was drooling over the new Odyssey. His mom was getting a Pilot but she said she thought the Odyssey design was pretty nice also. However he was more like me, over the moon with the new design and I think trying to influence his mom to look at the Odyssey. He was getting his mom's old Pilot in either case she said. Lucky kid. :)
 

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Re: Colors

mic111 said:
Have you seen the Polished Metal Metallic? I thought that was quite a nice look. But it doesn't have the Truffle leather which I haven't seen yet.

If I were to get one it would be the Dark Cherry Pearl because I always like red. However I would prefer it came with one of the darker leather colors instead of just the light beige and I would love it if it were more red than maroon.

I think the vehicle is stunning in a number of colors. I especially like the chrome accents around the windows.

When I was in the show room a teenager was drooling over the new Odyssey. His mom was getting a Pilot but she said she thought the Odyssey design was pretty nice also. However he was more like me, over the moon with the new design and I think trying to influence his mom to look at the Odyssey. He was getting his mom's old Pilot in either case she said. Lucky kid. :)
The polished metal looks a bit drab to me and he interior color is light gray, which looks a bit like "putty" and I fear will look dirty in no time. For us, it will be white or silver.
 

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Re: Nice!

mic111 said:
Then the dirty one has to go in the back since there is no room for a full sized tire in the spare tire well.
There's a vinyl bag included in Odys (at least there was one in my '05 and '11) for the "dirty" flat tire. They're usually collocated with the jack/wrench. Also, about the comments about the tire rolling around in the back of the van, there are instructions/parts that tell you how to secure the full-sized flat tire in the rear. The tire can be secured with the rear seats in either the up or the down position, whichever you prefer.

I like the spare tire where it is. I had no problem getting it out. And the lazy-Susan in previous models was useless to me. I haven't measured yet, but it seems without the spare where it used to be in the rear, the rear seat has more elbow room.
 
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