Honda Odyssey Vs. Toyota Sienna

by Kevin Scobee

Market leaders in minivan sales and quality, the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna offer many of the same features, with similar designs. Introduced in 1999, the Sienna is one of the oldest models on the minivan block, while the Odyssey ranks number 1 out of 8 reviewed by U.S. News & World Report.

History

In 1959 Honda made its first appearance in the United States by operating out of a storefront in Los Angeles, California. For 50 years, the corporation has been a leader in fuel-efficient, and cost-effective, automobiles that have been known for their reliability. Perhaps the most well-known Honda, the Civic, was released in 1973 the same year Honda released the world's first fuel-efficient four-stroke outboard marine engine. Toyota released its first automobile, the A1 prototype passenger car, in 1935. While the car didn't make market success, Toyota still made a base of operation in the U.S. in 1957. For 30 years Toyota released cars under the same name until 1989, when the luxury line Lexus came out. As a Toyota off-shoot, Lexus was named the number one luxury import in 1991.

Facts

"The (Honda) Odyssey delivers one of the best combinations of power, handling, and interior versatility in its class," says U.S News & World Report. The 2009 version of the minivan features a fuel-saving cylinder deactivation system that allows for greater fuel economy, while still gaining a boost in horsepower. The 2009 Best Car for the Money award winner by U.S. News & World Report, the Toyota Sienna provides excellent value based on its price. Like the Odyssey, its main rival in the minivan category, the Sienna provides power and comfort while still maintaining high safety ratings and plenty of space for a family.

Features

Equipped with loads of features and an ample 3.5-liter V-6, the Odyssey provides a fun driving experience not normally associated with minivans. A high chassis, firm suspension and precise steering make the Odyssey very nimble for its power and considerable size. Inside Honda has put clever use to its interior space, using excellent ergonomics, coupled with a fuel-saving cylinder deactivation for maximized miles per gallon. Despite its age in the market, the Sienna does offer some of the big-ticket options of its competitors like the Odyssey. A big V-6 engine provides power, 265 horsepower and 245 pound-feet of torque, although the size of the van can make handling a chore and parking a squeeze.

Expert Insight

Both the Odyssey and the Sienna score points for their options, size and power. That's why they're tops in the market for minivans. Similarities abound between the two as Car and Driver says about the Odyssey, "The best minivan to drive ... offers a smooth powertrain, handsome styling, and Honda build quality," and Forbes says about the Sienna, "if one needs a lot of passenger and cargo room ... then the Sienna gets our vote as one terrific family car."

Considerations

With either, prices of a fully loaded model can run into the high-$30,000 range. As with any choice of purchase, the options of Honda quality build, and large amounts of interior space in the Sienna, need to be weighed. Either way, according to leading publications, the choice wouldn't be a bad one as both minivans are at the top of the market.

About the Author

A writer since 2002, Kevin Scobee grew up in Kansas City, Mo., and has appeared in "The Clay-Platte Dispatch," "The Maple Woods Zebra," and the award-winning "Park Stylus." Scobee was the sports editor at Park University, where he received a degree in journalism.