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Discussion Starter #1
Let me start by apologizing if this is covered in a thread somewhere else already. If it is and someone can point me to it (and forgive my technical ineptitude), it would be appreciated.

That said, we're going to be buying a Minivan as soon as my wife comes off maternity leave in March. Leaning towards the Honda, although the interior improvements (material quality etc.) and feature-value of the Chrysler has me looking at those as well.

I have a couple questions and a couple gripes.

First question is in regards to an EX-L vs. Touring. I'd rather not spend the extra money for touring, since the features that I would want the most (blind spot) are only on Touring Elite and that is too much. My question is in regards to the transmission. I know on the EX-L you get a 5-speed, and with the Touring and up you get a 6. I've heard that in the past Honda's have had a less-than-stellar reputation for their transmissions (the only weak point of their brand). Is this 6 speed a 'newer' design that should last longer, or is the problem I'm referring to a thing of the past, based on discussions and observations ?

Second question, because I was confused by another thread on here - doesn't the Ody have rear distance beeping things, and front ?

My gripe is - Why the hell doesn't Honda offer keyless entry/ignition ?!? If the Touring had that I would DEFINITELY get the Touring model (or maybe even stretch and get the TElite !) Also, I really like the rear-path cross detection that the Town & Country offers which isn't available on the Honda.

That said though, I'm pretty certain it's gonna be the Honda.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
I'll reply to my own post - of course, after searching some more I found threads discussing the 5 vs. 6 speed, but no direct comments on the overall state of Honda transmissions that I have found so far.

Also, sounds like the Touring as the little radar thingies in front & back, whereas EX-L doesn't.

Wish I could get an EX-L with a 6spd but no RES !
 

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I see you are in California, next door to British Columbia. The Canadian EXL has parking sensors. Maybe a weekend trip. :)
 

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I think Honda's transmission problems are a thing of the past, but who knows? In a couple of years, we could get a rash of complaints on this forum as some of the the 2011 models start to each 60,000 miles. Generally, the advantage of the 6-speed over the 5-speed is the slight fuel savings per gallon.

As for front and rear parking sensors, on US models, only Touring trim levels and above get them while in Canada, EX-L and above get them. In Canada, the EX-L and Touring models are equivalent to the US Touring and Touring Elite models.

Check out the specifications. Look towards the bottom of Exterior Features where is lists Body-Colored Parking Sensors (Front/Rear).

2012 Honda Odyssey - Specifications - Official Honda Site

Parking sensors are very useful if you routinely back in and out of small spaces (i.e. parking garage).

If you cross compare all the major minivans on the market, they are all missing some features. There is no van out there with a perfect set of features. I don't really miss the keyless ignition, but two features that the Toyota Sienna has that I wish were on the Honda Odyssey are rain sensing wipers (automatically adjusts speed) and the ability to watch video on the front NAV screen when the van is in park.

:rollingeyes:
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Agreed - no one vehicle is going to have every feature that everyone wants. I'll admit that I just assumed that a DVD could be viewed while in Park (on the Honda). BUT, I think the lack of keyless is a glaring omission on Honda's part, as that is a feature that is very useful and desired by the baby/toddler toting set. Like all consumer products though, they have to leave something for future upgrades. :-/

Thanks for the info on the parking sensors and transmissions.
 

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The EX-L has a rear view camera with guide lines which makes backing up easy. Thus I don't think additional sensors on the rear is necessary, although you could order them as an add on. Front parking sensors are for the Touring only but there are many after market options. I started a post on that so do a search. I have come to the conclusion that I can live without the front sensors though.

As for the trans, have you checked Consumer Reports? Although the Odyssey has a worse than average reliabity records in its first yr, most of the problems are electrical. The 6 speed is new so bugs are expected.
 

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I agree with happyvan. I'm sure the occasional defective transmission can still turn up on the Odyssey much like in any other brand. That's what warranties R for. I lost a Transmission in my 2002 but have owned Odysseys almost continuously ever since without difficulty. I would not spend too much time lamenting the absence of rain sensing wipers. I had them once. Still found myself adjusting the intermittent speed just as often as the wiper response to changes in rain density was too slow.
 

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^+1 EX-L had the "right" set of features for us, and the only elements I wanted outside of the EX-L package were on the Touring Elite - a silly expensive step above the EX-L for the couple of things I would have liked. Very happy so far witht he EX-L. 5 to 6 speed difference was not a big deal IMHO for the extra potential 1 mpg gain, and the 5 speed trans has been pretty well rung out by now in terms of dependability (at least that is my sense of it). Back camera works very well to get you into tight spots, and while it might be nice to have front sensors, that is not a deal breaker to me as we had driven our Grand Caravan for 14 years without any electronic guidance at all without issue (your experience may, of course, vary). All in all, I had a very hard time going higher than the EX-L trim level when the price increases so dramatically for a few features that did not mean much to me over the long haul with the van.

As for rain sensing wipers, well, that goes into the category of a little too much technology for my taste. I can adjust my wipers thank you very much. Same goes for the auto headlight feature, although I am trying to get used to it. I instinctively am turning them on or off manually as an automatic response to whether it is dark or light out. Go figure. I guess this falls under the category of old dogs and new tricks.

Good luck with your decision.
 

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My gripe is - Why the hell doesn't Honda offer keyless entry/ignition ?!? .
What do you mean by "keyless"? Do you also mean "hand-free?" Like many cars on the market, the key fob for the Odyssey can lock and unlock doors and tailgate and open/close the windows and sunroof without actually inserting the key into the hole (=keyless). To remotely start the car, you can buy this as an accessary. Honda does not have "hand-free" entry and ignition, however, if that is what you mean. Yes, if implemented properly, it would be nice. When carrying my kid or grocery, the key always seems to be in the wrong pocket.
 

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Replace any transmissions in the Caravan Jeff
I did indeed Robie.... at about 100K or so I had a $3800 bill to replace the transmission (not at the dealership which would have been quite a bit more). Dodge . Chrysler actually made a pretty good product at the time - except their transmissions (not only in vans but in cars as well) were notroiously weak. I enjoyed the Caravan but I am more than happy to be in the new Honda now. I had the choice to go Caravan again, but easily chose the Ody this time.
 

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Same goes for the auto headlight feature, although I am trying to get used to it. I instinctively am turning them on or off manually as an automatic response to whether it is dark or light out. Go figure. I guess this falls under the category of old dogs and new tricks.
I too do so manually because I really don't find it that useful for day-to-day driving, and the manual says you should turn on the light manually when it is dark out. Furthermore, after reading many complains about battery drainage, I figure I don't want the lights to be on any more than they need to, especially after the car is shut off.
 

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back-up sensors are available as a factory accessory. Best to have the dealer install them, lots of work involved, see the installation instructions here: http://www.handa-accessories.com/odyssey/11backup.pdf

You only live once! We love our Touring. Besides 6-speed and extra goodies (Navi, RES dvd, parking sensors, etc.), I like the look of the rims better and I think the van has a more finished look with painted lower side sills (they are black on non-Tourings).
 

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If you look at the long threads, the 6 speed tranny seems to be having trouble. Not sure what the deal is about the 5 speed cuz I tend not to look beyond the first page here, but it's not like Honda has taken care of things with the new 6 speed.

You don't need rear sensors on the bumper. The backup camera gives you MUCH more info than those stupid beeps.

I personally haven't tested but friends have said the blind spot detectors (at least on other cars) is pretty useless for the most part.

And yes, I can't understand why there's no hands free keyless entry. Or why HIDs are limited to the TE.
 

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We had two at our office at various times and we traded them both as they rolled 100000 kilometers (about 60000 miles). The transmission in the first was replaced twice and in first second once although to be fair, the seconde failure in the first occurred within a month of the first replacement and the dealer replaced it the second time at no charge to us. Biodegradable transmissions. Seems to me though that designing a transmission that goes the distance in a mini van must be challenging given the issues all manufacturers seem to face.
 

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Robie, it does seem that way, although as I mentioned, it seemed that Dodge/Chrysler couldn't get it right in cars either. Not sure why - it isn't like this technology hasn't been out there for a while.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Yah - I probably used the wrong terminology. What I wish it had was a FOB that allowed me to open the doors and start the car without taking that FOB out of my pocket (or my wife's purse). Certainly not a must have, but just as I'm sure that people mocked the first users of television remote controls as lazy, I think it is a feature that any vehicle at these prices will have within five years and people will wonder how they lived without it. (Or Bluetooth is probably another good example, as it is now pretty standard on many vehicles, yet considered a rarity just a few years ago)

As to the parking sensors (I think you commented on those too), my wife is not the greatest estimator of distances so I think they might save me some money in the long run. (Also wondering if we won't wish we had the RES when the kids are older, since we'll be keeping this thing for 10+ years) Point is, definitely considering the Touring. (And I would like the blind-spot detection too, but Touring Elite is just too much)
 
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