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Discussion Starter #1
Wife and I have an 05 Pilot EX-L RES, but it has 150k miles, and with twins in the way in the spring (to add to our 4yo), we're looking minivan. Stopped by a Honda dealership last night to check out the Ody EX-L RES just before they closed. Salesman let us drive it alone, and overall, we liked it. He was a bit lazy and wanted to go home, which suited me fine as I was going to email other dealerships for quotes today. Then, just now, I realize that the Ody only comes in FWD. Forgive me, as I'm new to minivans in general, but even in snowy NH, Honda doesn't think we need AWD? And for that matter, so does every other automaker save for Toyota? What is the rationale behind this? It'll likely push us to a Sienna or a newer Pilot, but it's absolutely ruled us out of a new Ody. And it kinda boggles my mind.
 

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There have been talks about the new Quest having it, and keep in mind that all AWD Siennas come with runflats.
 

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AWD does not a great driver make. Up here in northeastern Ontario, I have never had any problems that good driving and snow tires can't get you out of. I wouldn't let AWD be the determining factor.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Snow tires are all well and good on a FWD, but my order of preference would go something like this:

1 - Snow tires on an AWD vehicle
2 - Stock tires on an AWD vehicle
3 - Snow tires on a FWD vehicle

We have stockers on the AWD 05 Pilot and it's a tank in the snow. And to give you an idea of where I'm coming from, I used to rally and autocross and have spent a good amount of time at the Team O'Neil rally school up north. This next car will be for my wife and not me, but I still prefer an AWD vehicle for her. Just equal parts bummed/amazed that the market doesn't demand AWD vans, I guess.
 

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Other than for acceleration, snow tires on a FWD vehicle will perform excellent and equivalent in all conditions when compared to AWD.

The key is to always have snows on all corners.
 

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I too was very surprised

I've had AWD in snowy CO for a while. I have been looking to move to a minivan for the lower floor. I too was very surprised that more makers did not offer this feature. Everyone says that folks get the SUVs because they look better and have less stigma but some part of it may be because there are more choices with AWD.

Good luck with your search!
 

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I think I read that Toyota sells less than 15% of its Sienna line in AWD.

Honda said that the market for awd was too small. In addition, given that the sticker in Canada for the Touring is $46,900, adding awd ($2,000+) would have put the above $50K (including $1,590 for freight), a place Honda didn't want to go.

It is true that you can get an LE awd Sienna at a lower cost than that.

We just received 50 cm of snow over 2 weeks. You need a bit of patience driving in those conditions (I don't have snow tires), but I didn't have any problems, other than slow starts off the line. That was OK, though because the guy in front of me was having the same problem.

I think snow tires and fwd is more than adequate for most conditions. 15% of purchasers don't agree with me. I live on the prairies so we don't have hills to climb. the snow is usually dry as well so traction is a bit better than wet snow on a slippery slope.

I guess you need a Sienna.
 

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Well if you want the original explanation Honda gave back in 90's (I still have the article) it is because of the storage space. Specifically the storage well behind the third row seat and the spare tire that, at that time, was stored under the floor in the second row. Now the Sienna has a third row well and AWD, but it has been established that the Sienna has a greater rear overhang and therefore the well is behind the wheel assembly. However the drive chain did cut through the spare tire compartment, thus the need for runflat tires. This is also important to remember that "depaxing" a Sienna is not the same as depaxing an Ody since Tourings still had the empty space for a spare. I personally know someone with a "depaxed" Sienna that is now driving with nothing but a can of fix-a-flat and a AAA card for a spare. On another note, if I lived in a place like New Hampshire, I'm not sure I'd even want the Ody I have now and it has nothing to do with the drive wheels. It has to do with ground clearance. It always is hitting snow drifts and last winter I tore off that sagging stone shield because of it. Another reason why I cannot understand why Honda made the 2011 even lower. :confused:
I'm sure it has been established by now, but I'm pretty sure the spare tire has been relocated for 2011 and is now residing in the floor somewhere and there for blocking the potential AWD drive chain. Unless Honda were to offer some sort of run flat tire system to compensate for it............But I think they learned their lesson:D
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks for the info. Just had to google "PAX" and read all about that mess as I'd never heard of it before. But glad this got away from the FWD vs AWD conversation, as that's not what I intended for this to be. I was just curious why just about every truck and SUV has available AWD, but almost all minivans do not. Still strikes me as odd.

We're looking into the Siennas now, and if we don't like them, we may end up going with the carseats three-wide in the back of a new Pilot, which I was hoping to avoid. We'll see!
 

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Although I didn't follow it, I don't believe the Siennas had the problems with their run flats the way the Ody did with PAX. They have the thick sidewalls instead of the inner ring and I think can be serviced more places than the dealer.
 

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Cntrtwnltd said:
Although I didn't follow it, I don't believe the Siennas had the problems with their run flats the way the Ody did with PAX. They have the thick sidewalls instead of the inner ring and I think can be serviced more places than the dealer.
Not sure about the new Sienna but the previous model had problems with its run flat tires, where the tires would wear unevenly even with the alignement being in spec. I saw this when shopping for a minivan last spring and that, plus the missing 8th seat in AWD, turned us off the AWD Sienna.

Nicolas
 

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Sienna runflats are of the traditional kind (stiff sidewalls) of which there are numerous varieties used on many different cars. This is very different than the Honda PAX system which was a complete failure as we well know.
 

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We're looking into the Siennas now, and if we don't like them, we may end up going with the carseats three-wide in the back of a new Pilot, which I was hoping to avoid. We'll see! [/B]
I know this isn't what the thread is about, but this stood out to me.

You should check out the sunshine kids radian. It's the thinnest carseat on the market, at 17inches in the shoulders, and does 3 across nicely.

http://www.skjp.com/en-US/product/97556/165XX/_/Radian65SL®
 

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whoa said:
AWD does not a great driver make. Up here in northeastern Ontario, I have never had any problems that good driving and snow tires can't get you out of. I wouldn't let AWD be the determining factor.
This is a biggie for us too...and we used to LIVE in Ontario, though not the northeastern parts, in Toronto.

I am a big proponent of snow tires and as a performance driving school instructor, I fully agree that driver skill and focus save lives more than AWD.

But, all else being equal, the AWD system does offer an added level of security and capability over FWD.

And with Honda's continued pig headed TPMS, which leaves us without the ability to monitor the tire pressures despite buying a new set of sensors and spending hundreds of dollars at the dealers to reprogram again and again in order to try and make them work, a 2nd set of mounted snow tires on a new Odyssey frankly make me fret if we're going to have to deal with the Honda TPMS atrocity again! :mad:
 

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You know AWD doesn't make you invincible. Don't forget, once you let go of the gas or are braking, its the same as a two wheel drive car. The only advantage is if you are giving your car gas. Yes there are advantages but let's put it in perspective.
 

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OdyDudy said:
You know AWD doesn't make you invincible. Don't forget, once you let go of the gas or are braking, its the same as a two wheel drive car. The only advantage is if you are giving your car gas. Yes there are advantages but let's put it in perspective.
This is true of many "safety" technologies now available in cars including stability control, ABS, etc.

In the end, nothing can stop the laws of physics, all that happens is cars can "help" cover off poor driving.

Having said that, your best chance in that one situation is to have as much technology as possible to help you through.
 

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whoa said:
AWD does not a great driver make. Up here in northeastern Ontario, I have never had any problems that good driving and snow tires can't get you out of. I wouldn't let AWD be the determining factor.
I stand by what I said. If you drive "defensively" with snows all around, you absolutely don't need AWD!
 

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Proulx06 said:
We're looking into the Siennas now, and if we don't like them, we may end up going with the carseats three-wide in the back of a new Pilot, which I was hoping to avoid. We'll see!
Why a Pilot?

As background, I live in Colorado at about 6,500 feet, and suffice it to say, it snows a fair bit up here.

I used to drive an AWD Subaru Impreza and have a FWD Accord but more recently used a FWD Toyota Prius and (now that we're expecting our fourth), a FWD Odyssey.

I used to think AWD was all but a necessity for Colorado winters, but after driving in the Prius for a few winters, I discovered something: traction control is more important than AWD, good tires are essential and curb weight is your enemy.

The only thing AWD is really good for is getting going in a slick situation, but even then you'll still get stuck occasionally without the right tires.

What's more important in snow is stopping and controlling your car when tires start to slip, and that's what traction control is good for.

My experience with all my vehicles is basically this:

1. The FWD Accord had no traction control and is awful in the snow. It's like a powered sled!
2. The AWD Legacy was pretty good in the snow, but fishtailed when stopping at times. Ironically, it was totaled in a snow storm when a vehicle pulled in front of me as I was driving through a sort of intersection, and I slid on the snow right into his truck.
3. The Prius is light, has traction control and VSC. It stops great, but can slip getting going unless you have good all season tires.
4. The Odyssey also has traction control. I've only had it about a month, but drove it to Dallas and back for Thanksgiving and we drove it through a somewhat nasty snowstorm coming home.
I never felt out of control, and was able to maneuver to avoid an irresponsible driver who slid all over two lanes of highway when he lost control. The only thing that makes it a little intimidating is that it feels a lot heavier than the Prius, and more weight means more momentum which means increased stopping distance. You have to drive slower with a bigger vehicle.

For its part, the Pilot has a braking distance of 150 feet for 60-0 deceleration on dry roads during a test (about 20 feet longer than rival crossovers). Poor braking performance is bad, bad, bad for snow!

By comparison, the Odyssey has a braking distance of 129 feet under the same conditions (Prius stopped in 118 feet).

The Pilot has less storage space, less passenger space (leg space on the third row is terrible and steals your trunk space), its crash test scores are a star less than the 2010 Odyssey (2011 has yet to be tested).

The Pilot gets 19 MPG combined vs. the Odyssey's 22 MPG combined.

The Pilot has only 1 LATCH anchor/child seat position in the third row vs. the Odyssey's 2 LATCH, 3 child seats (one with top tether only).

Furthermore, the Pilot's elevated clearance makes it relatively difficult to buckle-in and extract kids because of the extra lifting/reaching.

It may be the pious Prius owner in me, but I can't help but feel that the Pilot or any SUV is a bad choice for families. As a vehicle class, they're inefficient, impractical, less safe than vans and were made for off-roading and hauling equipment, while a minivan is made for hauling kids!

In fact, with only three kids, you can even stick with a sedan, if you don't typically carry other passengers.

AWD is really unnecessary unless you live in remote mountains with unmaintained roads. Stopping power is more important for staying safe in snow, and the Odyssey is better in that regard.

By the by, what MySillyBoys said about Sunshine Kids car seats is true: you probably want three of them if you hope to fit three kids in a single row. It's too difficult trying to puzzle fit other brands that aren't designed for the task.

Here's a pic of my daughters in the back of my Prius. This is over a year ago before my third was born. We since purchased a third Sunshine kids seat which fit great! Three seats fit a little less well in the third row of the Odyssey, believe it or not (because of the rear wheel well), but they do fit.



Also, a couple of things to note about the 2011 Sienna. AWD means there's no choice of a middle seat in the second row. Thus, there's only two car seat positions in the second row and (by some boneheaded flaw in design) there's only one car seat position in the third row, and it takes up two seats. Thus, the 7 passenger van only seats 6 all of a sudden, and the two car seats in front make accessing the back row more difficult.

I actually liked the 2011 Sienna better than the 2011 Odyssey, but its screwy car seat positions killed the deal for me, so here I am.
 

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While AWD might not be a necessity in most cases, there are times when "getting out of the way" is key to safety and no FWD vehicle can match a AWD or 4WD vehicle in terms of forward grip.

Our Ody with snows was definatetly great and virtually equal in all performance compared to my Avalanche with Snows, except of course for grip going forward including in turns. FWD will push under power in turns and AWD/4WD will power through including the ability to induce oversteer to complete the turn.

Our new van that has all 4 wheels driven (from an unnamed manufacturer) and is unbelievable with snows in a straight line and turning and compared to my truck is better which I attribute to better snows on the van.
 

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Snobike Mike said:
While AWD might not be a necessity in most cases, there are times when "getting out of the way" is key to safety and no FWD vehicle can match a AWD or 4WD vehicle in terms of forward grip.

Our Ody with snows was definatetly great and virtually equal in all performance compared to my Avalanche with Snows, except of course for grip going forward including in turns. FWD will push under power in turns and AWD/4WD will power through including the ability to induce oversteer to complete the turn.

Our new van that has all 4 wheels driven (from an unnamed manufacturer) and is unbelievable with snows in a straight line and turning and compared to my truck is better which I attribute to better snows on the van.
I agree. I don't think you can beat the convenience of awd in a vehicle. Even if a fwd vehicle will suffice, the frustration factor goes down when you can get moving easily on slippery surfaces.

You just have to remember that you can't slow down any quicker though. It would be nice if the Odyssey also had awd for those relatively few customers who want it, but they don't.

So, if you want awd - it is Sienna - not a bad choice at all.

Between the two brands, there is something for everyone.
 
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