Whenever Honda promotes the Odyssey and its multitude of features, the high-end EX-L and Touring versions feature prominently to appeal to parents everywhere. But you're spending too much money for what is essentially a commuter car, work truck, furniture delivery van, ambulance, and bus all in one.
Let me say that my daily driver for the past couple weeks has been a 1999 Honda Odyssey LX. I've always had a soft spot for it (took my driving test in it) and I always thought it handled really well compared to most SUVs and even some cars I've driven. It's also been very reliable over the past 14 years. (Just don't mention the transmission.)
Our neighbors down the street have two Odysseys. A 1999 EX and a 2010 EX-L. I've driven both of them and I have to say I prefer our LX over both of them. (Just don't mention the transmission.)
I have yet to drive the current-generation Odyssey since no one among our family friends has bought one lately. (It seems they stopped having kids after 2009.) But I feel that the same lessons I've learned from past Odysseys apply to the current models as well. (Just don't mention the transmission.)
1. The LX is Lighter
This means a lot. It means better fuel economy, better weight-to-power ratio, which means better handling. It also means no power sliding doors, the base stereo, sunroof, no front center console, second-row center seat, or HondaVac.
Before you complain, here's a rebuttal. Power sliding doors are a gimmick. I grew up without them and I turned out fine. It spoils your kids since they should be able to open or close a sliding door. Opening a door themselves makes them stronger. Base stereo is fine. Everybody will be listening to their iPods anyway. Sunroof will not be used as often as you think, but it will make the van safer in the event of a rollover.
I don't have a very good argument against the front center console and second-row center seat, because they're actually usable. But no console will force you and your offspring to be better organized, and no extra second-row seat will lessen the noise and weight in a full van by one person. It makes all the difference. Just ask a parent.
2. The LX is Cheaper
It means a lot of money saved from the needless upgrades that I saved you from. Going from an LX to an EX would could $3,000 more. That's $3,000 that could go into your kids' college fund.
You may be complaining about the lack of a proper entertainment system, navigation, or leather. As for the entertainment, what kid doesn't travel without their iPod, iPhone, or laptop these days? They'll keep themselves entertained without that stuff. For navigation, just buy a TomTom, Garmin, or use your smartphone. It's a lot cheaper. As for leather, just get some Scotchgard on the seats and it should do the trick regarding the inevitable stains. And HondaVAC is a ploy, plain and simple. Just walk into Target and buy a small vacuum for under $100.
Thank goodness you didn't go for the $44,025 Touring Elite and spoil your sports car fund (if you still have one).
3. With Less Features, There's Less Things to Go Wrong
If there's one major complaint about high-end cars today, it's that there's too many features we don't understand, leading to problems. In a base model, you don't have to worry about that infotainment system, tri-zone climate control, or power-operated tailgate, doors, sunroof, or seats not working. (Land Rover should take a lesson from this. It would help their standing in the J.D. Power surveys.)
All this does is contribute to the complaining about the minivan, something which dads always discuss at birthday parties. You can live without climate control and power everything. That way, the van isn't out of action when something goes wrong. The main things are the safety ratings, performance, and costs. And costs matter with kids. After all, the reason you considered an Odyssey was because of them.
With these reasons, you must be astounded that you even considered a minivan that cost as much as a luxury car at all. You're welcome.
Now save up for that sports car you're planning to get after they go to college, and then put it on hold again because tuitions have gone through the roof.
This piece was originally posted to my Kinja blog BecauseCAR on June 11, 2013.
Photo Credit: Honda