Mason was only a year-and-a-half old in 2003 when Susan and I made the decision to sell our ’96 Dodge Neon and upgrade to a more family friendly vehicle. After doing some market research, we settled on the Honda Odyssey minivan. I don’t know that deciding it’s time to own a minivan is a particularly proud moment in any man’s life, but Honda lessened the blow by offering leather seats with seat warmers, automatic sliding doors, a six-disc changer, a DVD player with a flip down screen, and eleven cup holders. For some reason, our salesman really pushed the fact that the van had eleven cup holders.
We paid $32k for the van brand new off the lot. I’ll never forget, as we were standing in the showroom waiting for the paperwork to be finalized, we spotted a Honda S2000 — one of those sporty, two-seater convertibles — also with a price tag of $32k. There was a brief moment where we questioned our decision. Surely you can squeeze a kid’s car seat into the trunk of one of those things, right?
Ultimately we made the right decision. That Honda Odyssey has hauled myself, Susan, two kids and those eleven cup holders across the country more times than I can count. This past summer, with 200,000 miles already on the van, we drove to Seattle, Washington and back for our Alaskan cruise. During that trip the van took us through Kansas, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Montana, South Dakota, and Nebraska. The summer before that it took the four of us to Las Vegas, Nevada, through Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. The van’s been through Missouri, Illinois and the edge of Indiana more times than I can count. It’s been to Washington DC and back more than once, a route that takes us through (at least) Arkansas, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland. The van’s been to Mississippi at least twice. Two months ago, Susan drove the van through Alabama and Georgia and back.
Last month, with 215,000 miles on it, we drove to Chicago and back.
At around 100,000 miles, Susan put AAA on the van. We used it once. After being in Alaska for a week, we returned to the van and it wouldn’t start. AAA came and gave us a jump start. One of the kids had left on one of the rear dome lights and ran down the battery.
The van is not without its quirks. The automatic sliding doors occasionally have a mind of their own — possibly a by product of years worth of french fries, crayons, and loose change falling down into the sliding door tracks. The rear windows no longer open. The DVD player is a lot pickier than the day we bought it, randomly rejecting discs. Some of the leather has peeled away from the arm rests. Probably the most annoying quirk is that the radio controls located on the steering wheel occasionally “shift”, which almost always manifests itself whenever the driver attempts to crank up volume when a good song comes on the radio, causing the radio to change stations instead.
All first world problems, really.
As for the drive train, it’s as strong as the day we bought it. Like I said, last month we hopped in the van and put around 1,800 miles on it while driving to, around, and back from Chicago. The month before, we put on another 2,000, driving to Atlanta and back. Over the summer we put on around 4,000, driving to Seattle and back. I’d drive it anywhere tomorrow.
Well, not tomorrow — because we sold it. A few months ago Susan bought a Honda Crosstour, which has replaced the van as her daily driver. (After having such a good streak with the van, we stuck with Honda.) We’re hoping the Crosstour (essentially a 4wd Accord with a slightly larger body) holds up as well as the van did. We’re on our way to finding out; in three months we’ve 12,000 miles on it. (That’s high even for us.)
The Odyssey has set off on a new odyssey with a new owner. I’m not “sad” to see it go like I have been with some of our cars, but it’s been a damn reliable vehicle that has lots of years and miles left in it. Lots of life left in it for someone else’s adventures.