When one thinks of great car rivalries, it's usually two high-powered muscle cars going toe-to-toe on a drag strip. Yet drivers who have kids and gear to lug around simply can't justify a two-seater anymore. Fortunately, technological advancements have made minivans almost as powerful as the pony cars that tear up the track on race day.
If drivers are willing to pay for it, it's possible to deck out a minivan with enough performance upgrades to satisfy those with a need for speed. Edmunds Inside Line, a website normally known for debating the finer points of sports cars and sleek sedans, recently took two perennial van favorites and put them to the test.
Both the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna have undergone facelifts for the 2011 model year, and families will have plenty of options when it comes to the vehicles. Edmunds opted to trick both cars out as much as possible, opting for the $45,000 Odyssey Touring Elite edition on the Honda and the Sienna's $40,000 XLE.
The Sienna might have the price advantage, but the news source ultimately determined that the Odyssey was a better value for families who wanted a true luxury experience. The Odyssey came with several substantial technological upgrades – including a blind-spot monitoring system, massive hard drive for holding music and movies, surround sound and a refrigerated storage unit – that drivers can't get on the Sienna no matter how much they're willing to pay. The news source did point out that budget shoppers might prefer the Sienna, as it had the option of a four-wheel engine with all-wheel-drive for a lower price that also gets better fuel economy than its more powerful counterparts.
The cheaper Sienna beat the Odyssey in 0-60, braking time and ride smoothness, but the news source concluded that it simply wasn't as fun to drive and didn't handle as well as the Odyssey. For drivers who want to inject a few thrills into their weekly shopping trip, the Odyssey's suspension can handle whatever a driver can throw at it. By contrast, the Sienna is probably better for those more concerned with making sure their kids stay sleeping.
Overall, the news source concluded that both cars were excellent choices and neither disappointed, but they ultimately do different things. With all the bells and whistles, the Odyssey is essentially a luxury sedan in minivan form. Meanwhile, the Sienna is tops in simply providing an affordable A-to-B ride.
Minivan prices have skyrocketed in recent years, as extra features like DVD players and refrigerated storage units ensure that every creature comfort is taken care of. Drivers interested in a more affordable vehicle may want to shop the used car market, as they'll be certain to find used Honda Odysseys and Toyota Siennas from years ago that give them just as much bang for their buck.