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Honda's Odyssey remains top minivan in fuel econ

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The Honda Odyssey minivan has many accolades, ranging from Money magazine’s “Best Minivan” for 2005 to “recommended buy” of Consumer Reports.

But these days, perhaps the most notable achievement for Honda’s sizable, seven-to eight-passenger family vehicle is the Odyssey’s ranking as the most fuel-efficient minivan in the country.

Indeed, with its standard V6 mated to a five-speed automatic transmission, the 2006 Odyssey is rated at 20 miles a gallon in city driving and 28 mpg on the highway, the Environmental Protection Agency statistics show.

On a record pace for sales this year, the Odyssey, with generous interior room and storage space as well as a host of amenities, is a pleasant surprise for American families concerned about gasoline prices and fuel consumption.

It’s not a bargain-priced minivan, though.

The base 2006 Odyssey LX has a starting manufacturer’s suggested retail price, including destination charge, of $25,895. This compares with the 2006 Dodge Grand Caravan, which starts at $23,745, and the 2006 Toyota Sienna, which starts at $24,190 for a seven-passenger CE model.

Indeed, the top-of-the-line Odyssey Touring with leather seats, navigation system and rear-seat entertainment system is priced in the luxury-car range at more than $39,000.

This is higher than the 2006 Chrysler Town & Country Limited minivan, which for years had been the highest-priced minivan with lots of luxury and comfort features.

The 2006 Town & Country Limited now carries a starting MSRP, including destination charge, of $36,465.

The Odyssey wasn’t the fuel-economy leader in minivans until the 2005 model year, after the vehicle was extensively revamped.

Besides improved comfort and convenience features and a novel interior-quieting technology, the Odyssey added variable cylinder management to its 240-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6. This allows the engine to automatically deactivate three of the six engine cylinders when the van is cruising, such as when it’s on a flat stretch of highway.

In essence, at times like this, the Odyssey can run on just three cylinders, reducing its use of unleaded regular gasoline vis-à-vis the traditional full V6 mode.

Drivers aren’t likely to notice when the change occurs.

In fact, in the test Odyssey, the only indication I had of the three-cylinder mode was when the bright green letters “eco” popped up in the instrument panel. There was no sensation of lost power and no shuddering or hesitancy as the V6 disengaged and re-engaged the cylinders.

At other times, the peak torque of 240 foot-pounds at 4,500 rpm in the test Odyssey Touring model was enough to get this heavy — more than 4,300-pound — van feeling like it was sprinting forward to merge with traffic or get around other vehicles.

The Odyssey’s performance numbers are commendable.

In comparison, the 3.3-liter V6 in Toyota’s Sienna generates 215 horsepower and 222 foot-pounds of torque at 3,600 rpm. The top-level, 3.8-liter V6 in the Dodge Grand Caravan produces 205 horsepower and 240 foot-pounds of torque at 4,000 rpm.

By the way, the government’s second-best fuel economy rating for a minivan goes to the 2006 Dodge Caravan, which is listed at 20/26 mpg.

But the Caravan, which is a short-wheelbase version of the more popular Dodge Grand Caravan, is a smaller, more lightweight van with a less powerful, four-cylinder engine than the Odyssey.

Every 2006 Odyssey comes standard with a full complement of safety features, including curtain airbags for all three rows of passengers, front-seat side airbags, antilock brakes, stability control and traction control.

This leads to more accolades for this van. The Odyssey is a Best Pick of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in frontal crash testing and earns the top, five-star rating in both frontal and side crash tests by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The Odyssey’s rollover rating is four out of five stars.

But unlike the Toyota Sienna, the Odyssey does not offer all-wheel drive.

The Odyssey’s outer styling is rather plain and blockish. I saw several drivers in cars darting to get around the test Odyssey because they evidently didn’t want to get stuck behind this van and not be able to see around it.

But for people inside, the ride in this front-wheel-drive, nearly 17-foot-long van is comfortable.

There’s a good amount of cushioning over bumps, and the power rack-and-pinion steering has a mainstream feel so the van doesn’t make abrupt, scary movements.

It’s easy to get into and out of the Odyssey, thanks to a low floor height. But riders sit up some from the pavement for a better view over cars ahead.

Early Odyssey buyers may recall that Honda was the first to pioneer third-row seats that flip and fold down easily into a cavity in the floor at the back of the vehicle.

The Odyssey also has power roll-down windows in its sliding side doors, which are unusual in this segment. These windows provide plentiful fresh air to riders in the back — be they youngsters or the family dog.

The Odyssey also was the first minivan in this country with a nifty, fold-away center console tray between the front seats.

This is a high-tech minivan. The optional navigation system has a large, 8-inch display screen that sits high on the dashboard for convenient viewing.

There’s voice recognition software, so a driver can give some verbal commands to find and set locations.

The Odyssey’s interior quiet can be akin to that in a luxury car, thanks to noise-cancellation technology that’s included in some uplevel models. Basically, “anti-noise” that balances out engine noise is broadcast through the Odyssey’s audio system speakers, thus canceling out incoming engine noise. No other minivan has this.

I just wish Honda could engineer its sliding side doors as well.

In the test Odyssey, they annoyed me with their slow open-and-close motions, and when I tried to help them along by manually yanking on the door handles, they resisted my efforts.

There were four safety recalls of the redesigned 2005 Odyssey, which is an unusually high number for a Honda in one year. They included 203 Hondas, including some Odysseys, that were recalled for a steering column that could have been improperly assembled, resulting in a loss of driver control.

Another 85,154 Odysseys were recalled, the NHTSA said, because front airbags sensors could have been improperly sealed, allowing water to impair their operation.


http://www.helenair.com/articles/2005/11/1...01111905_01.txt
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I'm surprised Honda hasn't offered a Hybrid version, using a powerplant similar to the Accord Hybrid. They managed to increase the Accord's EPA mileage from 20/29 to 29 / 37, both 5sp auto sedan, and only a 3k increase in the MSRP. We aren't talking a weak hybrid powerplant either, the 0-60 times increased for the hybrid over the 5sp auto non-hybrid. If they could find a way to offer an Odyssey hybrid model that was still under 40k MSRP, but kept most of its features, they should have a winner (although I personally could never imagine someone paying almost 40k for a minivan, lol).
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Yeah? An AWD Sienna XLE Limited starts at like $39k. I priced one out with all the factory goodies and came to $44,567. A 2wd model would come to probably around $40-41k, and that includes alot of items that should be standard on a vehicle that price, like $98 for an ashtray and lighter, $69 for a cargo net, $259 for an 'interior light package,' and $180 for an electrochromic mirror. All those things were options on a $35-38k MSRP vehicle. Ridiculous.

In contrast, a fully-loaded Odyssey Touring comes to a hair under $40,000 with a handful of options (foglamps, cargo mat), a Terraza CXL is $38,300 with AWD, navigation, and Chrometec wheels, and A Chrysler T&C is $39,399 with navigation, sunroof, rear-seat DVD, and backup assist.
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I see a lot of high-end minivan models around my area, mainly Honda and Toyota. I've heard there's pretty damn luxurious but I'd never spend $40K on one.
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They managed to increase the Accord's EPA mileage from 20/29 to 29 / 37, both 5sp auto sedan, and only a 3k increase in the MSRP.

Interesting. Figuring 66% of the mileage is city driving, the gas vehicle should return a composite of 23, the hybrid a composite of 31, difference of 8mpg.
Using the usual annual mileage of 12,000 and figuring gas at $2 even, the hybrid would take 11 years to make back it's $3000 premium.

I wonder how many hybrid owners stop to figure this out.
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And you guys are only comparing MSRPs, which as we know, is virtually irrelevant with respect to GM these days. In our market, a Sienna will lease out for $80-125 a month more than an comparably equipped SV6 or Uplander. There is no doubt in my mind that both the Sienna and Odyssey represent "state of the art" for minivans at this time, but they both have downsides (puny gas tanks, for example) and a hefty price tag. Gas mileage, as we have all debated here before, is subjective. Cold weather and driving habits will effect gas mileage severely, and the flat torque curve of the typical GM 6 cylinder will usually result in real world numbers closer to what the EPA represents than what an Asian engine will be.
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Interesting. Figuring 66% of the mileage is city driving, the gas vehicle should return a composite of 23, the hybrid a composite of 31, difference of 8mpg.
Using the usual annual mileage of 12,000 and figuring gas at $2 even, the hybrid would take 11 years to make back it's $3000 premium.

[post="45704"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


It's not just the mileage though, emissions are less, and power is increased thoughout the rev range (weight increases as well by over 100 lbs, but the power more than makes up for it). I'm not 100% sure, but I believe the engine is shut off completely when idle at a stop light like other hybrids, this would show a very large increase in average MPG for someone who does mostly city driving in a crowded city.

the flat torque curve of the typical GM 6 cylinder will usually result in real world numbers closer to what the EPA represents than what an Asian engine will be.


It's not that the torque curve is flat (which it isn't in a GM V6), but the engine is designed to have its peak TQ occur earlier, which is good for mileage, city driving, but not good for performance tests like 0-60 and 1/4 mile or that all so important peak hp number =).

Aside from that, how do you know that the GM 6 cylinder gets better real-world numbers than the Honda V6 (when compared to their respective EPA ratings)?
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It's not just the mileage though, emissions are less...

Less emissions are neither specifically advertised nor realized by the pocket of the consumer. In other words, most consumers will not care in the least. The majority of hybrid drivers are sold on mileage gains... but fail to do a bit of simple math to show how long they have to drive the thing until they see any savings vs. the comparable gas-engined vehicle.
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Balthazar:

Remember when we hung out last week we talked about this? You're one of the few people who actually realise this fact. And we're not even factoring in the extra maintenance costs associated wiht Hybrids and the fact that they're rarely if ever discounted.

I once read an Article about fuel efficience by Jay Leno... what he said was something like this:


Durring the mid 1970s fuel crisis people started buying up new econoboxes like Toyota Corollas and Datsun 510s like crazy. (once again taking advertising for fact instead of using their brain)

Now a miniature 1975 Corolla with a miniscule 71 cubic inch motor cost about $2700 brand new.

But at the very same time you could have bought a HUGE, gorgeous and luxurious car with all the bell sand whistles like a 1968 Oldsmobile Delta 88 or a 1970 Buick Electra or even a 1969 Cadillac Sedan Deville for like $500 in MINT shape wiht low miles.


Now let's assume the HUGE land barges mentioned would average 10 mpg. We know they do better than that but let's just asume the worst.


Mean time the Corolla would average 30mpg (justv for the sake of argument let's round up)

And gas back in 1975 cost about $0.67 (according to Google)


So now let's assume we drive 20,000 miles a year just for shits and giggles:


Corolla: 20,000 / 30 = 666 gal 666 x .67 = $446 (told you Toyotas were evil)

Land Yacht: 20,000 / 10 = 2000 gal 2000 x .67 = $1340

So in other words you'd have to drive that little pissant Corolla for two and a half years and about 50,000 miles just to break EVEN! And mean tie you're driving a little shitbox POS car made of recycled newspapers and tin foil.



OR


You could have been riding around in a couch on wheels and enjoying all the finer things in life.




your choice. :)
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They say pictures are worth a 1000 words, so here you go:



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or you could pay tons more for a brand new one of THESE:





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Back in College a Hippie girl had a canary yellow '75 Corolla (or was it a 76?) and it got stolen right out of the parking lot. I felt bad because the car (let's face it) was kind of irreplacable and being that it was RWD and a stick I thought it kind of cool in a quirky kind of way.

We were all preplexed, like WhoTF steals a canary yellow '75 Corolla in 1999??? Edited by Sixty8panther
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It's just the popular "in" thing to do, and will likely fade just as vinyl tops and wire wheels have faded away. Because it's merely a fashion statement and doesn't give anything back to the consumer (oh yeah- unless you keep drive the same car for 12 years or more). I'm not saying it's not worthy if you obsess over that sort of thing, but most consumer's subconscious attitude is 'What's in it for me?'.
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Buying any Toyota hybrid mainly for the fuel economy gain is pretty foolish, especially if you have a car that's already paid off even if that car's a large SUV. Simply drive less or buy a cheap, beater commuter car. Even a new commuter car is a better value. And if you really do want to maximize your fuel mileage and environmental karma, then just buy a Honda Insight and be happy. Those and the old EV1s are about as real an economy commuter car as you can get - small, adequate power output, lightweight, very aerodynamic, a nice a/c and stereo system, power functions, and that's it. Priuses are psychological. Insights get the job done.
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Interesting viewpoint...

Buying pleasure: Will it be a Hemi or a hybrid?
BY PATRICK BEDARD
December 2005


You can write out your check for 50 large, arrive home in a shiny black Ford F-250 Harley-Davidson Super Duty, its dubs bulging out the rear fenders like steroid-infused biceps, and no one on this staff will say, "Boy, you're never going to get your money's worth out of that thing."

Or maybe you ante up for the Eddie Bauer option on your Ford Expedition. You won't be scolded on these pages, told that you'll have to sit on those leather seats for an extra 50,000 miles to recoup your foolish outlay for Eddie.

But show a little enthusiasm for hybrids? We purse the puritan lips and say, "You know, the mileage is not that great. You'll have to drive it till it's as used as Willie Nelson to save gas enough to get your cost back."

Maybe, maybe not. Remember those lazy, hazy days of $2-a-gallon gas? We've passed $3 in much of the country as I write this. Do I hear $4? Crude was up over 50 percent this year before hurricane Katrina.

Not, mind you, that C/D is about sensible shoes. About half the content of some issues comes with a window sticker over $50,000. And we don't screen vehicles according to some Warren Buffett value analysis to make sure your money would be well spent. This is a magazine about self-expression with cars. You dress for the road. Nobody gets drafted into Porsches or Escalades. You wear them for your own reasons.

I met a woman a few months back who'd had her money down on a Prius for more than a year. The list was too long, the dealer told her; he didn't want her money. But she insisted. She knew the Prius was a radical step toward energy conservation, and she wanted a car that expressed her feeling on that topic. She wanted to be seen as a Prius kind of woman.

What's hard to understand about that?

The knock on hybrids takes two forms, both of which I hear often around the water cooler. First, they're not a real solution to energy consumption because the makers lose money on each one they sell; therefore, hybrids are unsustainable.

About a year ago, when Ford introduced the Escape hybrid, I asked Steve Lyons about that; he's that company's head of North American sales.

"At 50,000 units," he said, "we've got a business. At 70,000, we've got profits."

So far, Ford has been sticking to its rollout plan of 20,000 units for 2005, to be followed by 24,000 (Ford and Mercury versions) for 2006. They sell quickly, with unsold supply averaging about 3000 cars scattered among 4000 dealers.

Ford's hybrid machinery is similar to the system Toyota uses in the Prius, which sold 53,308 units in the first half of 2005, putting it on track to top 100,000 in the U.S. over the year. That would make it solidly profitable according to the Ford yardstick.

The other knock on hybrids is that they don't get the fuel economy promised by the EPA numbers. Oh, yes, they do, if you drive them as the government drives them on the standard test. Of course, I drove my own routes at my own speeds during my week in a hybrid Lexus RX400h. About half was on freeways, sometimes at speeds above 80; at least 75 miles were in rain. I measured 25.3 mpg over 468 miles. Maybe that doesn't sound miraculous, but when we tested a conventional RX330 (C/D, July 2003), the C/D-observed fuel economy was 17 mpg.

In fact, neither Lexus matched its EPA rating in our hands. But the hybrid outperformed the conventional version by 8 mpg.

What mileage would a hybrid achieve in your driving? There's a big clue hidden in plain sight in the EPA ratings. You'll notice normal cars make better numbers on the highway test than the city test. Hybrids (with automatics) almost always do better in city than highway. Compare a Lexus RX330 AWD at 18 city, 24 highway, with a hybrid RX400h AWD at 31 city, 27 highway. The hybrid shows a 13-mpg improvement in the city but only 3 mpg on the highway.

Much of any hybrid's gains come from recapturing the energy of motion you'd normally waste when you apply the brakes. There's a lot of braking in urban driving, which means a lot of energy available for the hybrid to put back into its battery. But there's only occasional slowing on the highway and therefore little potential for regeneration.

If most of your driving is urban slow-and-go, a hybrid will probably do well for you. If you commute on free-flowing interstates, forget hybrids. It's this simple.

Or maybe not. We're all adults here, and we know that pleasure costs money.

Interstate 17 pitches up and down, but mostly down, over the 140-mile run from Flagstaff to Phoenix, Arizona, descending from 7000 feet to about 1000. I was watching the Lexus's "power" screen out of one eye; it shows the flow of power through the hybrid system. With the cruise set at 70 mph, I noticed the engine shut off when the downgrade got steep enough. So I kept inching up the cruise. How fast would it go without the engine? I ran out of hills before finding the upper limit. But I can tell you that the RX400h will dead-stick down at 80 with the A/C and power steering alive. If you weren't watching the screen, you'd never know the engine was off.

Would a car that clever be a pleasure to you? It is for me.

I was testing a Ford Escape hybrid a few months back. It was warm from a previous trip as I backed down my driveway to the street. Tires crunching on gravel was the only sound. I levered into D and headed downhill past three houses, then uphill to the stop sign. The engine didn't start. How far could I go on the battery? It would be uphill from there, up two blocks of Fox Road, a short zig on Gambel, then uphill again, up the climb where a Lexus IS300 lost grip in the snow on its summer tires, got stuck, and left me to make Reebok tracks back home. I expected the Escape's engine to kick in, but it didn't.

By this time I was into the game. To keep my engineless streak going, I admit rolling past the stop sign onto the main road. No traffic, no foul. That left another 100 yards to the crest, gently uphill now, but also inescapably up . . . would it, could it? YES! Now a long, half-mile coast to the highway, 1.7 miles from home with the engine still off.

Hybrids are really fun for me.

If you want to save money on your next car, here's my advice: Skip the onboard nav option. You'll never save enough in maps and 50-cent phone calls to get your initial cost back.

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While the viewpoint is interesting, it's hardly unbiased. What's Ford expected to say? "We're losing our shirts on everyone we sell"? Take at the transaction price the escape sells for. Now add in a $3000 battery and an electrical motor, the extra circuitry/display screen and that hybrid converter/drive system itself. Now factor in royalties on the licensing agreement you made with Toyota - and engineering costs to develop, and machining/tooling costs to assemble. Even if you sell it at a marginally inflated price, I'm skeptical you can break even on 70k units a year. That's just my opinion. Edited by cmattson
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It's not just the mileage though, emissions are less...

Less emissions are neither specifically advertised nor realized by the pocket of the consumer. In other words, most consumers will not care in the least. The majority of hybrid drivers are sold on mileage gains... but fail to do a bit of simple math to show how long they have to drive the thing until they see any savings vs. the comparable gas-engined vehicle.

[post="45857"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


Some people don't care about the price/money portion of the hybrid equation. To them hybrids are using less gas and putting out less emissions, and if they have to pay an extra couple thousand then so be it. Less gas and less emissions are less gas and less emissions.
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