Berkeley Parents Network >
What/Where to Buy >
As we are about to have our second son, we are looking at either buying or leasing
either a Honda Odyssey or a Toyota Sienna. We were pretty set on the Odyssey for
a variety of reasons until we read some reviews on Yahoo that pretty much trashed
the Odyssey, saying that it gets lower than promised mileage, needs frequent
repairs, develops a strange windshield humming sound after a few hundred miles
etc. Can anybody offer any guidance from personal experience? Odyssey owners who
love their cars? Any drawbacks? Sienna owners who love theirs? Any in put would
be much appreciated. Thanks
I just finished paying off my toyota sienna! I love my car. I
like japanese cars period, but the reason I got the sienna was
purely cosmetic. I liked the shape! The odyssey looks like a
box and unappealing to me. I don't know much about mileage etc.,
but with three teenagers and a preschool, I have driven many kids
around and have always found it comfortable. I have had it five
years now and it runs fine, no problems at all. I do get regular
oil changes and keep up with the service schedule. For servicing
I go to Hanlees Toyota in Hilltop, Richmond. Their service is
What timing! As I type this, my Honda Odyssey is at the dealership getting its
THIRD (yes, third!) transmission, and it is only 6 years old. The last one lasted
less than 3 years and 40k miles. I absolutely HATE my Odyssey and would advise
you to stay away! I have had so many problems with the Odyssey (I have posted
here before about them), I don't even know where to begin. Besides transmission
problems (admitted by the company), they have had problems with their doors. One
of our sliding doors currently needs to be repaired, at $350, because it grinds
terribly when it opens/closes. The doors also do not open if it is too cold.
Also, there are times when, even though the sliding doors are closed, the door
alarm does not turn off and the only way to make it stop is to disable the
automatic doors (there is a switch you can press so that they don't open
automatically). We originally chose the Odyssey because we had owned Hondas
before and had good luck with them, they have a ''reputation'' for being
reliable, and when we bought our minivan the Sienna that was out was the smaller
model and we wanted a bigger minivan. We know people who have Odysseys from the
same time period who have had many problems as well.
So, I would go for the Sienna. I will never buy another Honda.
Hate my Odyssey
We love our Honda Odyssey. We bought it 6 years ago, and it is
our only car for a 3 kid family with a lot of friends and
relatives to tote around and lend it to. Plus carpools, and
vacations. I can't even remember the last time we had to get
anything fixed. The only time we've taken it in, other than the
regular maintenance checks, has been a couple times when the
''engine light'' has come on. It is so reliable. I really
appreciate not ever having to worry about the car. I've never
owned a car that was just a non-problem like this one. It's
comfortable. It's easy to drive. It holds a ton of stuff. We
did try out the Sienna which is very similar but we just liked
the way the Honda handles better. I suggest you test drive both
of them. There are happy customers on both sides. When this one
finally wears out we'll be getting another one.
Happy Honda driver
Definitely the Odyssey. We pick that one because it comes with
side air bags. Very important!
We bought our Honda Odyssey new in 2001. At the time, it was the only minivan
with the deep well in the boot - great for groceries, suitcases and general
hauling. We found it to have more headroom than the Sienna, and we just liked
the all-around space and flow among the seats better. Not sure how the models
have changed since then. Having had an Acura Legend for 16 years, we were already
partial to Honda engines, so that was another factor. We've had only very minor
problems with the Odyssey to date, but that may be because we elected to go with
the old fashioned manual sliding doors instead of the automatic. Happy Honda
You didn't say why you are comparing only these two minivans. There are many to choose
from. My family recently bought one, the Hyundai Entourage. It is safer, higher
quality/better warranty, bigger, much quieter, as powerful, more comfortable, and about
$10K cheaper than comparably equipped Hondas or Toyotas.
We recently bought a Honda Odyssey and are now looking
for chains for it for the snow - which we drive in several
times a year. The dealer had us sign something about
voiding our warranty if we use chains. Does anyone have
any experience with this - what do you use? Do the chains
really do some irreparable damage? I have heard of
spike-spiders - an alternative to chains but they are quite
expensive. Any input welcome.
Going to the snow
You can't use traditional chains, but you can use 'cable'
chains. They are chains, not spiders, but they're thinner and
flatter than the regular ones. They work fine.
Another Ody Driver
has anyone bought a new honda odyssey recently? is
there still a 3 month wait time? where can i get the
best price these days: from a dealer (which one?)
We purchased a Honda Odyssey in mid November. It was a
rush purchase, as our car had ''died''. We test drove
at Doten in Berkeley, but we never negotiated seriously
with them. Rather, we went to autobytel.com, as recommended
by a coworker. We picked the car up at Doten that day
having received what we felt was a good price. However,
I heard from someone last weekend that it is difficult
to find an Odyssey, even to test drive, at a dealership
right now, so I can't speak to the current wait.
I used to sell cars. Now, I occasionally help friends
when they want to buy a car. I have a friend who just
bought an Odyssey. We found it at a dealership in Redding
and there was very little wait time and we were able to
get if for MSRP. Most dealers are now selling them from
$1000 - $5000 over MSRP.
This was more than 3 years ago, but we bought our Honda
Odyssey from El Cerrito Honda during their President's
Day Sale. We ended up getting a great deal by first
getting an online quote (from Anderson Honda) and then
calling El Cerrito and asking if they'd match the price.
The sales guy not only agreed, but he gave us an additional
$100 off if we completed the deal by the end of the day.
Since we were prepared to do just that, we ended up getting
our Odyssey for just a few hundred over invoice (but,
like I said, this was several years ago.. 2nd year release,
I think). Your mileage may vary, but I'd give a shot at
getting a quote online and then calling around the local
dealerships to see if they'd match the price. It worked
We bought one in November and used www.autobytel.com,
and were shocked to find out that the best deal to be
had was for $500 *over* MSRP! We called around to
every dealer in a 100 mile radius (a lot of dealers)
and confirmed that this was the best deal unless we
were willing to wait for months. The local Autobytel
dealer was in Berkeley--they sell a lot of Odysseys and
seem to have the best prices. At least we love our car;
I still think it was worth it. Good luck.
Hi Suzie, we just bought a '02 Honda Odyssey last month,
and my husband searched over hill and dale to find the
''best bargain''. SO much so, that even though we live
in El Cerrito, he drove to San Jose to buy the Odyssey
from a dealer who was only charging $750 over sticker
instead of $1000 which seemed to be ''the going rate''
for most other Bay Area dealers. We did not want to do
the 3-month wait, so we took whatever color was on the
lot, and drove that car off same-day. My husband talked
to a lot of dealers and got quotes from them on-line,
but most of them had the same numbers (like a cartel)
of $1000 over sticker. That may be changing in the
next couple of months because apparently Honda has
upped production, so there should be more Odyssey's on
the lot which may start bringing the price ''over sticker''
down, so you may be starting to look at the right time.
Also, in general, our impression was, El Cerrito Honda
(slimy), Oakland Honda (some room for negotiation, but
big on being put on the waiting list), Marin Honda (no
room for negotiation, but more up-front salespeople-- not
as slimy), Concord Honda (no room for negotiation),
Sunnyvale Honda (definitely room for negotiation),
dwntn San Jose Honda (room for negotiation when they
have cars on the lot-- this is where we eventually
bought). All in all, a tiresome experience, but we
agree that the Odyssey is worth it-- it is by far the
roomiest mini-van, though we have found the gas mileage
to be a bit depressing-- definitely around 18 mpg.
I recently purchased a Honda Oddessey. We used a car
broker and only had to wait for about 3 weeks. The way
it works is that you pay him a small fee (I think it
was $200) and he finds the best possible price for the
exact car that you want. Once he finds the car, it is
driven/shipped to his Sausalito office, where you pick
it up. Once you are there, he simply goes over the
paperwork and you leave. The whole thing took less
than 30 minutes--the most painless car buying experience
that I have ever had.
The man's name is David Shapiro, and his company is
called Cartillegent. I don't know the number offhand,
but his website is: www.cartillegent.com. (He can help
people find any type of car.)
We just bought an Odyssey after looking for about a
year. We did LOTS of research. The truth is, it is
nearly impossible to get one for under $1000 over MSRP.
But don't pay anything over that either. We contacted
many dealers and websites. I always said I would never
pay MSRP, but, if you must, the Odyssey is worth it. We
absolutely love it. You do not need to be put on a
waiting list because dealers periodically get unsold
ones on the lot. But they do sell in a day or two. Tim
from El Cerrito Honda is a good honest guy. Very helpful
and definately didn't try to scam us. Good Lock!
We managed to get an Odyssey within a couple of days
because there happened to be one at Jim Doten Honda in
Berkeley. Other dealerships had none on the lot to
even test drive and had waiting lists to buy. It seems
that the demand is so great that there is not much room
for negotiation, so we bargained as much as we could
and then just went for it. Other then the emotional
trauma of now owning a ''mini-van'', it's a great
We are considering buying a minivan and are perhaps interested in the
Honda Odyssey. As many of you know, it is virtually impossible to
actually find one in a dealer showroom, as they are so popular. We are
not able to buy one sight unseen, however (even if we wanted to),
because my husband, Ned, uses a wheelchair and we need to know whether
he can get in and out of the car and also whether his chair will fit in
the back. The Toyota Sienna is not an option for us because the space
behind the third seat is not big enough for his chair and we need six
seatbelts, so can't take one of the seats out.
Our request, therefore, is if anyone owns a 1999 or 2000 Odyssey and is
willing to let us try it out for 10 minutes we would greatly appreciate
it. All we need to do is for Ned to try getting in and out of the
driver's seat and for me to try putting his chair in the back. We live
in Southside Berkeley (near Telegraph and Ashby) and would be happy to
come to wherever you are.
Thanks very much,
I just bought a 2000 EX model Oydessy. After much research, the only place
that I have found
that actually has Oydessy's on the lot is at Stockton Honda on Hammer Lane.
Their phone number
is: (209) 320-6700. For some reason they seem to get at least 3-4 a week.
Give them a call.
They are very nice. If you still need to try out the Oydessy, send me an
e-mail and we can
see if we can get together.
We bought an Odyssey in June 00. Here's what we did: we test-drove the Honda and
the Toyota, and settled on the Honda because we liked the way it drives better,
and we liked the way the back seat folds down. None of the dealers within
a reasonable driving distance of Berkeley had them in the lot. So
we called 5 or 6 dealers in the
area, told them what we were looking for, and asked them to call us when one came in.
None of them would take a deposit or give any kind of guarantee, and most said it would be
a wait of 4-6 weeks. However, within 2 weeks we got a call, from El Cerrito Honda,
telling us if we could come over in the next hour, they had one for us. So we did,
and we got it.
We set the loan up in advance with our credit union so we were ready to make
the purchase whenever one came in.
In the next 3 weeks a couple more called us, but we'd already
bought one. As far as I can tell, all the dealers offered pretty much the same price.
The demand is greater than the supply, so you are not going to get a deal, and
you must take the color that is offered unless you really want to wait.
We are really happy with our minivan. It drives like a small car, which is what
I wanted, is actually fun to drive, and maneuvers just as
well as my old 74 Volvo station wagon, though it will not do a U-ee in a two
lane street, but it almost will. The really great part is now we can take the
kids and the grammas to lunch and everyone has a comfortable place to sit.
Kids can bring their friends now if we go to the beach. And the deep well in the
back behind the rear seats holds shrubs and bushes from the nursery without
having to turn them on their sides, or bend the tops over, like in a station
wagon. The back seats collapse easily to make a large continuous flat bed
for loading furniture or wood or whatever. And the climate control system
This is for the family who doesn't want to pay over dealer invoice for a
Honda Odyssey. We just bought one, and had to pay over invoice. However,
there was a dealer in Petaluma/Santa Rosa that was taking people's names and
selling Odysseys at their cost. When we called they had 150 names on the
and they planned to tack on a $2,000 surcharge for the 2000 Odysseys. Before
we bought our car, we did get a lower-than-average price quoted to us from a
dealer on Autoweb.com. That was early in our search and we didn't jump on it
and consequently had to pay more. In short, if you want the car at dealer
cost you'll have to wait a long time. Incidentally, we love our new van. I
never knew I had so much stuff to haul!
Can anybody recommend any honest, straight forward Honda Dealers in the area
(or out of the area). We are looking into to buying an Odyssey Van a basic
LX model for our growing family needs, and refuse to pay above sticker
price. The dealers we have called claimed they are not taking waiting lists
anymore and say that all vans are at least $1,000-$2,000 over MSRP. This is
a big purchase for us. Any advice? Thanks.
Honda has priced the Odysseys at a low price but limits the supply in order
to increase the demand. I was on the waiting list from February at Jim
Doten, through this Auto-By-Tel program. Then when the Odyssey came in
May, Jim Doten's wanted a response on the spot, increased the price to
$26,000 (MSRP was $23,000). They were just so greedy.
I ended up buying an Isuzu Oasis for about $23,000. The Isuzu is actually
the 1998 Honda Odyssey, which is smaller with non sliding doors and a four
cylinder engine. It is made by Honda, but sold by Isuzu. It's smaller
than the 1999 Honda sliding doors and six cylinders and is classified as a
station wagon. I really liked the dealer in San Leandro, who I contacted
by phone, using the AAA "discount" I test drove one and in one-two weeks I
had the model I wanted.
I saw the recommendation that was posted today and wanted to let you know my
experience with the local Honda dealerships. This was from 1995, and I was
purchasing my first car, a Honda Civic.
I found the salesperson at the Berkeley Jim Doten's Honda to be very nice
not pushy; he may have been new I think. I had done my research, told him
it by listing point by point why he should accept my offer, and knew my
reasonable. It was his manager that I didn't like. Still, in the end, my
I definitely did not like the salesperson at El Cerrito. He was very pushy
kept asking me to pay some outrageous amount. Then, later he called me, and
asked me if I was still interested. I happily told him I got my car at the
I originally offered.
Sometimes I take my car to Jim Doten's when I have problems with the car.
JIm Doten's is probably more expensive, but I like the service and
give, plus it's convenient for me. They have always been very polite to
have also gone to Berkeley Minicar for service. Berkeley Minicar has been
recommended by many people on the UCB Parents list.
In the process of buying a late model used Civic, my wife and I visited a
number of Honda dealers in the area. We were very displeased by our
treatment at Jim Doten Honda - the salesman acted very disinterested in us
and actually lied to us about all the work they do to certify used cars
(he claimed they put all new tires on all of them, despite the fact that I
was looking at what were obviously the used original equipment tires). He
made little effort to sell us the car we were interested in and had the
attitude that the cars would sell themselves (which to a great extent is
true with Hondas).
The salesman we encountered at Honda of Oakland was pleasant enough, but I
would avoid them because they add a protection package, which is
essentially about $10 worth of rubber strips along the doors and fender
wells, some Scotch guard sprayed on the upholstery, and I believe
floormats are thrown in as well. For this they charge you several hundred
dollars, and they do it to all the cars in their inventory so you have
little choice. This tells you a lot about their intention to gouge the
At Honda of El Cerrito I only saw the used cars, and the salesman I talked
was a nice guy and was really interested in getting me to buy the car I
checked out. In fact he called me back several times to find out if I was
still interested in seeing any of their other cars. If they had had an
acceptable used car in stock, we might have bought from them. However,
they are part of the same auto dealer group as Honda of Oakland (Hendrick)
and so they may add extra charges to their new cars too.
Our best experience was at Hansel Honda in Petaluma. It's a bit of a
drive, but it was worth it in the end. The salesman was very friendly and
very interested in selling us the car we wanted. The dealership does not
seem intent on ripping the customer off or just letting the cars sell
themselves. We had a friend who bought a car from them and kept going
back for service and then bought from them again. It was a totally
different experience when compared to our visit to Jim Doten.
As for not paying over sticker price on the Odyssey, you may have a hard
time since they are so popular. You might try an auto pricing service
(like the Auto Club has) where certain participating dealers will give you
a good price ahead of time without haggling. You might do better
bargaining on your own (if you are really good at it), but the
pre-arranged price is usually fair. Or you can try an on-line service
like Autobytel, where you order a car at a given price, usually some
amount over dealer invoice but less than sticker price, and you simply use
the dealer to pick up your car. A friend of ours bought an Accord this
way, and picked it up at Jim Doten (he wouldn't have dealt with them
this page was last updated: Sep 28, 2013
BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are building a new website!
Read more, and see how you can help:
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2015 Berkeley Parents Network