Kelley Blue Book Best Buys of 2016: Minivan
Don't let the winner here fool you into thinking the minivan market has gone stale. Quite the opposite, there has been some vigorous action in the world of family haulers, with a seriously upgraded Toyota Sienna debuting last year -- too late for our 2015 Best Buys competition -- and a rejiggering of the trims and options on the Honda Odyssey and Kia Sedona significant enough to warrant a close second look.
The Odyssey's second Best Buy Award is just the latest in an ever-growing list of accolades.
Don't let this repeat winner fool you into thinking the minivan market has gone stale. There's actually been some vigorous action in the world of family haulers recently, with a seriously upgraded Toyota Sienna debuting last year and a rejiggering of Honda Odyssey and Kia Sedona trims and options significant enough to warrant a close second look. But after the driving was done, one thing was clear: Honda makes one heck of a good minivan.
People buy minivans because no other vehicle on the market can match their flexibility and utility, and no minivan can beat the 2016 Honda Odyssey on those fronts. The Odyssey can seat up to 8 passengers, and if you need to, five of them can be in child booster seats, a claim no other van can make. If your passengers are all adults, the Odyssey's third row will accommodate them more comfortably than any other, and the cargo well behind the third row is the biggest of the group, big enough for eight suitcases if you're on your game when it comes to luggage Tetris. Speaking of cargo, it's easy to max out the Honda Odyssey's space thanks to a fully and easily removable second row of seats. If you don't need to go quite so extreme, the split-folding third row opens up tons of cargo space behind the second row, while still allowing comfortable three-across seating -- including child boosters -- in the second row. And that doesn't even touch on the numerous cup holders, storage nooks, USB and HDMI inputs, and other touches that make the Honda Odyssey untouchable when it comes to utility.
Best of all, the 2016 Honda Odyssey gives up very little to its competition when it comes to the behind-the-wheel experience. While the Kia Sedona may have a slightly smoother ride and is quieter at speed, the Odyssey offers up a smidge more control over bumps without sacrificing overall comfort, and it's still pretty quiet for a van. The 3.5-liter V6 engine isn't quite as strong as the V6 engines in the Sedona and Sienna, but the Odyssey boasts best-in-class fuel economy with only a modest sacrifice in acceleration, a compromise we'll happily take. Then you have niceties like the built-in HondaVac, which this year is also available on a new Honda Odyssey SE model at a significantly lower price than the Touring Elite, which previously had been the only model to offer the built-in vacuum cleaner.
Long-Haul Peace of Mind
While the Kia Sedona offers up a quiet and relaxed ride, the Kia can't match the 2016 Honda Odyssey for long-term value. The Honda Odyssey depreciates far more slowly than the Kia, and when you add in the low fuel costs, the Odyssey's costs over five years are second only to the Toyota Sienna, which beats it only by about $1,000. Combine that with the well-known reliability of Honda's minivans, plus the driving experience, and the Odyssey remains a clear leader in the minivan game.
More Honda Odyssey
If you want to know more about Honda's world-beating people hauler, take a few minutes to read our 2016 Honda Odyssey full review. And if you're ready to take the next step, build and price your own new Odyssey to unlock this week's Fair Purchase Price, 5-Year Cost to Own, and more. To explore even more options, check out our Minivan Buyer's Guide to become an instant expert on the family-friendliest vehicles out there.
At the end of the day, the 2016 Honda Odyssey was indeed the right choice. However, it was no slam dunk for Honda's venerable family hauler. While no Odyssey buyer will be unhappy with their selection, they'd do themselves a disservice if they didn't check out the Odyssey's main competitors. The Kia Sedona, for example, is easily the best looking van in the class, inside and out. Then there's the Toyota Sienna, which remains the only minivan available with all-wheel drive. In alphabetical order:
2016 Kia Sedona
Different in a Good Way
Familiarity with our 2015 Kia Sedona long-term evaluation vehicle has earned this minivan a special place in our hearts. The interior is not just comfortable and quiet, but stylish and functional. The infotainment system, for example, offers a blend of touchscreen functions and hard buttons that doesn't rely too heavily on either one. Kia is now offering its more advanced technology in the 8-passenger SX model, including active cruise control and an around-view camera system that makes parking in tight quarters a snap.
Plus, this minivan is just nice to drive, with good steering and a comfortable suspension that's still stiff enough to ensure it behaves itself in corners, as we mentioned in our 2016 Kia Sedona full review. The downside for some buyers is size. The Sedona is notably smaller inside than its Honda and Toyota competitors, particularly in the third row. It also doesn't offer the cargo flexibility of the Honda, and it's still playing catch-up when it comes to our five-year cost to own analysis.
2016 Toyota Sienna
The Minivan Segment's Other Stalwart
Toyota seems intent on offering a Sienna flavor for any buyer. The basic LE model -- the best-selling model by a wide margin -- offers all the comforts of home and then some. The XLE adds luxury, while the Sienna SE and SE Premium add a bit of sport to the van world with unique styling cues inside and out. Plus, there's the fact that the 2016 Toyota Sienna is the only minivan on the market to offer all-wheel drive, albeit only in 7-passenger models.
Those looking long-term will be happy to know that the Sienna not only beats the Odyssey and Sedona in 5-year cost-to-own calculations, it's our most recent Best Resale Value Award winner in the minivan category. Unfortunately, the Sienna is also the loudest minivan we drove, whether at full acceleration or just cruising on the highway. Additionally, the interior offers neither the flexibility of the Odyssey nor the comfort of the Sedona, despite a refresh last year that included a new dash panel and other upgraded trim.