June 16, 2006

Home Life > Got the Mini-van

Melissa and I went today and bought this Honda Odyssey mini-van with the extra doo-dads. The DVD navigation system/rear entertainment system/XM satellite radio is way cooler than I thought it'd be. We were going to get the regular EX-L without the geegaws, but we got a deal on this one. It was a used 2006 with 2,571 miles, and we negotiated the same price as the regular EX-L. Since it's Honda Certified, we got an extra 12,000 miles on the bumper-to-bumper warranty and an extra 50,000 miles on the powertrain warranty.

I found it at the Honda dealer near work Wednesday night. I had the day off Thursday so Melissa and I went in with a game plan. She's a more strangleneck haggler than I am, so I played good cop - the puppy dog husband who's cheerleading to spend money on a nifty new car with all the kewl shtuph. She was bad cop - the scowling wife who's worried about spending all that money while we're raising two kids on one income. It worked - we took what I thought was already a pretty good deal and knocked another $2,200 bucks off of it, and got some extra concessions, like deleting the $199 "roadside assistance package" and getting free rubber floormats.

Stuff we like:

  • It goes from naughty to sixty in 8.6 ticks on the Consumer Reports test, or 7.4 ticks when the leadfooted Car and Driver gang tested it. Either number is darned respectable for a living room on wheels.
  • The Odyssey handles like a car (albeit a slightly boring car), complete with their AVS stability control system. We test-drove a Toyota Sienna and there was no comparison - the Odyssey is much better on curves.
  • The driver-side gauges tells you when it's time for an oil change based on the oil's condition, rather than on a mileage interval.
  • The windows on the power sliding doors roll down.
  • What are normally aftermarket stick-ons like a mommy mirror and retractable sunscreens are built-in.
  • The Odyssey is a ULEV-2 low emissions vehicle. And while it's no Prius, this model shuts off half the cylinders when it gets to cruising speed to save gas. EPA mpg rating is 20 city, 28 highway.
  • The safety ratings are tops. There are side-curtain airbags for all three rows of seats. The front passenger airbag is automatically disabled if the occupant weighs less than 65 pounds.
  • There are storage bins in the doors, a drawer under the passenger seat, two gloveboxes, pockets behind the front seats, a trunk cargo net, hangers for plastic grocery bags, and 15 cupholders.
  • There's also a big storage bin in the floorboard of the middle seats. You can use it as one big space (it's big enough to swallow the modular eighth seat), or use the included in-floor lazy Susan to keep things organized and easy to pluck through the smaller access hatch.
  • If the motor for the sunroof ever fails there's a crank you can use to open and close it manually. Years of driving used cars has taught me that motorized stuff is Murphy-prone, so I think it's brilliant to have a manual backup.
  • The GPS-enabled DVD navigation system and computer screen are super wicked, especially combined with the XM radio. When the shifter goes into reverse the nav screen automatically switches modes to become the monitor for the rear-facing backup camera (which works great even in the dark). It's nice that they've made the mini-van less of a parking lot menace.
  • The rear DVD entertainment system came with two sets of wireless headphones. The kids can watch a DVD and hear it over the wireless headphones while mom and dad listen to music over the speakers (the DVD player is separate from the six-disc CD changer). The armrest in the third row of seats has AV jacks for a video game system.
  • Honda's "magic seat" feature is a couple years decade old and everyone has it now, but it's still really cool. On older minivans the rear seats were removable for carrying cargo, but that didn't help if you got to the store and realized you wanted to bring home something big. You could bring home the seats or the cargo, but not both. With the magic seats you can easily fold either side of the split 60/40 rear seat and they disappear into the trunk, leaving a flat cargo area flush with the floor.
  • All of the rear seats have their own vents with directional and flow controls, and a press-on light, 747-style. The tri-zone automatic climate control has separate zones for driver, passenger, and rear seats, and the temperature controls in the rear can override the settings in the front.

The van is cool, and we're looking forward to lots of weekend goofy trips and vacations with the kids, extended family, and friends. I'm glad we finally have a vehicle that can carry cargo. Katie loves it. We stowed the rear seats and lowered all the stuff in the center aisle and let her run back and forth in it while we got acquainted with the controls and DVD systems.

P.S. Guess how long it took to buy the Odyssey? Six hours. And that's with us going in knowing exactly which unit on the lot we wanted. Some of that time was negotiation, but who doesn't negotiate at least a little on the price? I'm just sort of amazed at how long it takes to buy a vehicle. Luckily I had the day off and both our moms were available for babysitting duty for the two kidlings. Thanks, moms.

P.P.S. This is only the second new car I've ever bought, and I didn't take it lightly. I seriously debated getting a less expensive used model, but Hondas hold their value so well that the used Odysseys weren't all that attractive financially, and the new models have enough in the way of better body styling, better handling, more safety features, and more convenience features that it seemed worth buying a new one. Still, Melissa and I held our breathes a little when we signed the contract. Even with a big down payment we're in for five years of monthly car payments. We're pretty sure we did the right thing, though. We love the car and expect to get a lot of years out of it.

Posted by lesjones | TrackBack


I think this pretty much puts your wife on the direct road to being a soccer mom and you? Well--you can kiss those days of thinking you look cool in your vehicle goodbye. Welcome to Parent World.

Posted by: Lewis at June 16, 2006

Well, at least the gadget factor sounds pretty high. I could probably amuse myself for hours with the backup camera alone. ;)

Posted by: Tam at June 16, 2006

I'll say it proudly: I am jealous.

Posted by: Busy Mom at June 16, 2006

Lewis: I wasn't too cool to begin with, so I didn't have far to fall.

Tam: look for the backup camera as a plot device in a bad action movie soon.

Mom: Hey, that was part of the point: that mini-vans have some features that make them desirable. Just don't envy me the car payment. Melissa and I are both driving used '98s that were paid for years ago, and we got used to not having car payments.

Posted by: Les Jones at June 16, 2006

Excellent choice, Les. Everyone I know that owns an Odyssey simply adores it.

Don't sweat the minivan juju. Just remember to buy a Mustang convertible to make up for it... :)

Posted by: Jay G at June 20, 2006

Are you still enjoying the Odyssey? I think we might buy one too.

Posted by: katie allison granju at April 23, 2007

We totally love the Odyssey. No regrets. My mother-in-law has the Toyota Sienna, and it's pretty nice, but the handling on the Odyssey is much better.

Posted by: Les Jones at April 23, 2007
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

Terms of Use