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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

REVIEW: Honda Odyssey LA GREAT 3.5 V6 1999-2004

Honda LAGreat Exclusive (Aka. Odyssey) lasting appeal

In this Used car Review, I'm reviewing an MPV called Honda LAGREAT Exclusive for JDM and Odyssey in American market. In Malaysia, ALL of grey importers import the JDM model as it's Right Hand Drive (Duh!) JDM model is the Same as American version except it's lesser specced. Eg. JDM version have no "Voice recognition software", and lesser airbags...

The LaGreat became a force in the minivan market after it was redesigned and re-engineered as a larger van in 1999.

In its reincarnation, this comfortable-riding, front-wheel-drive van 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. Honda officials called this rear-seat unit the "Magic Seat," and it was quickly appreciated by exhausted moms everywhere who had come to hate lifting out the big, bulky third-row seats of other minivans whenever they needed room for large cargo. Today, the LaGreat still has the flip-and-fold third-row seats. They've been copied by other car companies, too.

The LaGreat is the first minivan in this country with a nifty, fold-away center console tray between the front seats. It's a feature that continues today. The LaGreat also have 7 or 8 seating configuration. The middle row captain chair seat can be pushed together (combined) and viola, 8 seating mode...

High technology

The Odyssey LaGreat is a high-tech minivan. The optional navigation system has a large screen that sits up high on the dashboard for convenient viewing. And there's voice recognition software, so a driver can give some verbal commands, rather than distractedly using hands all the time at the nav screen, to find and set locations.

The Odyssey Lagreat's interior quietness can be akin to that in a luxury car, thanks to noise-cancellation technology that's included in some uplevel models.

The, "anti-noise" balances out engine noise by broadcasting the sounds through Odyssey's audio system speakers, thus cancelling out any incoming engine noise. No other minivan has this. Parents should be aware, however, that the Odyssey Lagreat noise cancellation is not programmed to cancel out children's voices, though there might be times when it would come in handy.

Engine technology
Honda engineers have a reputation for getting the most out of their engines—the most power, reliability and miserly fuel use.

The Odyssey Lagreat's V6 is no exception. Though it has to power a rather heavy vehicle—weighing more than 4,300 pounds—the Odyssey Lagreat powerplant developed a healthy, 210hp and 240 lb-ft of torque at 4500 rpm.

It was enough to move the van in a sprightly manner, both in the city and on the highway, and the five-speed transmission managed shifts smoothly.

A safety leader
The Odyssey laGreat is a Best Pick of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in frontal crash testing.

Indeed, every Odyssey LaGreat comes standard with a full complement of safety features, including curtain airbags for all three rows of passengers, front-seat side airbags, anti-lock brakes, stability control and traction control. Unlike the Toyota Sienna, though, the Odyssey LaGreat does not offer all-wheel drive.

Odds and ends
I just wish Honda could engineer its sliding side doors as well as it does its engines.
In the test Odyssey LaGreat, 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.

Year to Year Changes

2000 Honda offered a class-exclusive accessory for 2000: a satellite-linked onboard navigation system, optional only on the upscale EX minivan. Similar to the one available in the TL sedan from Acura, Honda's luxury division, the navigation system used an in-dash touch screen to display a map or point-to-point driving directions. Otherwise, little changed for 2000.
2001: TRANSMISSION RECALLED in America for 1st few batches of Odyssey LaGreat.
2002 Odyssey LaGreat's 3.5-liter V6 engine gained 30 hp and replaced its problematic 4-speed automatic transmission with a 5-speed for 2002. Minor cosmetic changes, retuned suspension, and standard rear disc brakes vs. drums also were new. Front side airbags joined standard ABS and traction control. Newly optional were leather upholstery and a DVD rear-seat entertainment system.

USER(S) REVIEW source :


1) Great Van!"
2004 Honda Odyssey EX w/ Leather/ Nav System
By: An MSN Autos Consumer
Owned: Less than 1 year
Review ID: #457937
9.0 Overall Rating


I looked at the Sienna, MPV & Quest before deciding the Odyssey was the best fit for my family. I had a '93 Mitsubishi Montero. I was searching for a minivan that was reliable, comfortable, had a good warranty, and cargo capacity. The Odyssey handles well, rides like a car. It is easy to get in and out of especially for my toddler. The heated seats work extremely well! The folding third row is so easy. Once folded, there is a lot of room for cargo, more than I can imagine using! Even when the 3rd row is not folded, the cargo area is very big. The navigation system is easy to use. The gas mileage overall is about 18mpg.

I wish the center storage was a little better. I was used to having more storage in my Montero.

Overall Review: The Odyssey is a great van. I would recommend to anyone!

2) "2004 Odyssey: A very good vehicle, value, safe, performance, reliability"
2004 Honda Odyssey EX
By: Gary from Overland Park, KS
Owned: Less than 1 year
Review ID: #457883
8.7 Overall Rating

1.) Contrary to others I like the styling (I like the 2005 as well though). 2.) Regular gas (Sienna requires premium). 3.) Power (240 HP). I sound "geekish" saying this but this van is actually fairly fast. 4.) Gas mileage is pretty good for a 4,600 lb vehicle. (Mine has been about 18-19 in city and 24-26 on highway). 5.) Very safe (NHTSB ratings are outstanding). Wife and kids are in this vehicle. 6.) Value. We paid $25,000 out the door for our EX. Thought I was getting a lot for a fair price. 7.) Extremely low insurance costs (2004 Odyssey is less expensive to insure than my 1996 Accord. Weird.) 8.) Very smooth on the highway. Great road trip vehicle.

1) Wish the interior looked a little better. Sienna interior is nicer IMO. 2.) Didn't like the fact that 2 weeks after we bought our's a transmission recall came out. We have not had any problems at all though (I've heard that Honda will replace even if past the 36K mile warranty). 3.) The fuel gauge - Fill it up and the needle never really shows full. Also, the low fuel light comes on with 5-6 gallons left in the tank! This is not a huge deal but somewhat annoys me. I'm used to it now though. 4.) At times there is some pronounced road noise but nothing that is deafening or ear-splitting. Could be quieter though. I've heard that Honda addressed this in the 2005's re-model.

Overall Review:
Overall a very good vehicle at a good value. Tons of room and power. Pretty good mileage for a vehicle this size (using regular gas). Low insurance costs. I like the styling but I tend to be a conservative person. Interior could be a little nicer (I like the Siena's interior better).


3) "My Dream Car Gone Bad"
1999 Honda Odyssey LX
By: Big Al from Rhode Island
Owned: 5 years
Review ID: #418708
4.8 Overall Rating

Lots of interior room, although the seats are not as comfortable as my other vehicles.
Tranny, tranny, tranny.

Overall Review:
Replaced the tranny twice, never ran like new. Sold it to someone who knew about the tranny problems but liked the price. Had to twist the service department to fix tranny second time. He acted like I was crazy. Looking at the other postings, I realize I made the right decision to sell. Driving a Chevy conversion van that runs like a dream. Go figure.


4) "Worth the money"
1999 Honda Odyssey EX
By: Pete - Canton, OH
Owned: 4 years
Review ID: #414105
8.3 Overall Rating

Clean solid interior, good curb appeal, dependable - always starts. Great on a road trip! Tons of room.

Transmission needed replaced, but honda covered it - they extended the warranty (7 yr - 100,000). A couple of the interior knobs have broken???? and need replaced.

Overall Review:
I'd buy it again. We don't do a ton of miles, but it has never left me stranded. The transmission problem was covered, to Honda's credit, and that was out of the normal warranty. I think at year #7 I'll unload this car and it will STILL be worth a good buck on the open market.

5) "Dissappointed"
1999 Honda Odyssey EX
By: RoleD
Owned: 2 years
Review ID: #399785
4.8 Overall Rating

9 Styling
9 Performance
6 Interior
5 Quality
1 Recommendation

The size and folding back seat are great

Transmission may have to be replaced. Replaced mine at 51,000

Overall Review:
Would not by a used 99 because the transmission may have to be replaced.



Honda Odyssey 3.5 V6 VTEC Specifications
2004 ODYSSEY EX and EX-L
Type: Aluminum-Alloy V-6
Displacement (liters) 3.5 (3471cc) 3.5 (3471cc)
Horsepower @ rpm (SAE net) 210 (156kw)@5,500
Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm) 242@4,500
Compression Ratio 10.0:1
Valve Train: SOHC 24-Valve 3-Rocker VTEC(TM)
Fuel System: Multi-Point Fuel Injection
Ignition System: Electronic w/Immobilizer

Type: Front-Wheel Drive
Automatic Transmission: 4-Speed (Replaced with 5 speed auto in 2002).
Final Drive Ratio 4.2
. . .
Body Type: Unit Body
Suspension: Front Strut/Rear Double Wishbone
Stabilizer Bar (mm., front) 22.0
Power Rack-and-Pinion Steering
Turning Diameter, Curb-to-Curb (ft.) 37.7
4-Wheel Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS)
Electronic Brake Distribution System (EBD)
Traction Control System (TCS) (NA in EX model)
Wheels 16 x 6.5 Steel w/ Full Covers 16 x 6.5 Alloy
Tires: All-Season 225/60R16 225/60R16

Wheelbase (in.) 118.1 118.1
Length (in.) 201.2 201.2
Height (in.) 68.5 69.7
Width (in.) 75.6 75.6
Track (in., front/rear) 66.1/66.1
Curb Weight (lbs.) 4310 to 4409
Towing Capacity (lbs.) 3500
Headroom (in., front/middle/rear) 41.2/40.0/38.9 41.2/40.0/38.9
Legroom (in., front/middle/rear) 41.0/40.0/38.1 41.0/40.0/38.1
Shoulder Room (in., front/middle/rear) 62.6/64.5/61.7 62.6/64.5/61.7
Hiproom (in., front/middle/rear) 57.8/67.0/49.1 57.8/67.0/49.1
Cargo Volume (cu. ft., behind rear seat) 38.1 38.1
Cargo Volume (cu. ft., maximum) 146.1 146.1
Passenger Volume (cu. ft.) 170.7 170.7

City: 18mpg
Highway: 26mpg
Averaged: 23mpg


Top speed:
112MPH (180km/h) limited (JDM spec)
130MPH (210km/h) (US spec)

0-60mph: 8.6 secs

ADDITIONAL NOTE: Apparently in America, the 1st few batches 1999 to 2000 model of “LAGREAT Exclusive” had transmission problems on the 4 speed models. At least 3 of them experienced transmission problem before 80,000 miles. Dunno whether the JDM models are affected…
Also, the power sliding doors is not working properly, at LEAST 10 of them said mechanism problem, slow opening and closing doors, some wished they can convert to Manual sliding door…

IN MALAYSIA. There's about 150+/- units of JDM right hand drive Version (Japanese spec) imported by grey imports. Today, it is priced between RM92,000 for a 1999 model and RM115,000 for 2001 model. Note that the price is VERY CLOSE TO the smaller Odyssey 2.3i. A 2000 model Honda Lagreat exclusive is yours for RM105,000. As a comparison, a 2000 model Odyssey 2.3i ALSO costs RM105,000. You might think, What??? SAME PRICE AS Odyssey 2.3i? Why is it so?

Answer: Due to: 1) prohibitive Road tax (RM2500++ per month), 2) Highish Fuel consumption (18mpg City driving wor!), 3) Well known transmission problem (Worldwide recall back in 1999-2000), 4) TOO BIG (in Size) for Malaysian taste.

Bottom line: A Value for money buy compared to the Smaller 2.3L Odyssey if you are RICH and can afford RM2500++ road tax and bear with 23mpg (Averaged) fuel consumption.

As a comparison, a year 2000 model recond Smaller Toyota Estima 3.0i costs RM125,000. That's 20,000 more than the LaGreat!!!

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