In this guide, I’ll break down the latest Honda Odyssey generations, revealing the Odyssey’s best years to buy and the worst Honda Odyssey years to avoid.
Expect insights on every generation, from the early Honda Odyssey models’ transmission issues and recalls to the latest most reliable Honda Odyssey years.
Let’s dive right in.
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Honda Odyssey Generations
The Honda Odyssey, a vehicle that quickly found its footing as one of the premier minivans in the market, began its journey with its first generation in 1995.
The Odyssey’s unique take on comfort, safety, and functionality was quickly recognized and appreciated, laying a solid foundation for its subsequent generations.
For a clearer perspective on the Odyssey’s evolution over the years, I’ve tabled its generations from 1999 to the present:
|2nd generation (RL1)||1999-2004|
|3rd generation (RL3/RL4)||2005-2010|
|4th generation (RL5)||2011-2017|
|5th generation (RL6)||2018-Present|
Understanding the generational changes is pivotal, as they might very well influence your decision when considering the best Honda Odyssey for your next vehicle.
Honda Odyssey Best, Neutral, and Worst Years
In our quest to determine the best and worst Honda Odyssey years, we’ve taken a holistic approach, considering a plethora of factors, including but not limited to:
- Owner-reported reliability (surveys)
- Annual maintenance costs
- Safety ratings
- Consumer Reports reliability scores
- Consumer Reports owner satisfaction scores
- NHTSA recalls, investigations, and complaints
- Edmunds owner ratings
- JD Power owner ratings
- Kelley Blue Book (KBB) owner ratings
- VehicleHistory owner ratings
- Cars.com owner ratings
Up next, you’ll find a visual representation showcasing all the combined ratings from the aforementioned sources.
Following the graph, I have tabulated the categorizations of each Honda Odyssey model year into best, neutral, and worst years for your convenience.
|Generation||Best Years||Neutral Years||Worst Years|
|2nd generation (RL1)||2004||N/A||1999|
|3rd generation (RL3/RL4)||2009|
|4th generation (RL5)||2012|
|5th generation (RL6)||2021|
When we mention “Neutral Years”, we’re indicating model years that offer balanced performance, without any remarkable highs or lows.
Some factors, for instance, NHTSA recalls, contribute negatively. A high number of complaints and recalls suggest lower reliability for that model year.
Now, let’s dive into the specifications of Honda Odyssey’s best, neutral, and worst years.
Best & Worst Years for Honda Odyssey 2nd Generation (1999-2004)
Honda’s Odyssey entered its second generation with a revised look and upgraded features, aiming to further penetrate the minivan market.
With relatively good reliability and owner satisfaction scores, 2004 is the Honda Odyssey’s best year in this generation, while 1999-2003 are the Honda Odyssey years to avoid without any doubt.
NOTE: I recommend you skip this generation completely due to the age and costly transmission problems reported by owners.
The Best Years: 2004
This year’s model was offered in three trim levels: LX, EX, and EX-L, catering to different customer needs and budgets.
In terms of technology and safety, the 2004 Odyssey was equipped with features like traction control, anti-lock brakes, and side-curtain airbags.
Additionally, technological upgrades were notable with the inclusion of a DVD-based navigation system and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, which were both firsts for any Honda vehicle.
Despite its commendable features, the 2004 Odyssey owners did report issues related to transmission failures.
The Worst Years: 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003
What year Honda Odyssey avoid? 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, and 2003 are undeniably the Honda Odyssey years you should “avoid them like the plague”. Here is why:
Most pronounced were the problems related to its transmission and electrical systems.
The 1999 Honda Odyssey faced transmission failures. Compounding this were reported electrical malfunctions, causing unexpected stalling due to defective ignition switches.
This was serious enough for Honda to issue two recalls concerning these ignition switch malfunctions.
The infamous sliding door issue emerged in 1999, with faulty latches causing unexpected openings while the vehicle was in motion.
The transmission problems were so entrenched that they continued into the 2000, 2001, and 2002 Honda Odyssey models.
By 2002, Honda did acknowledge the transmission issues by rolling out a recall, but this also encapsulated the 2003 and 2004 Honda Odyssey models.
Best & Worst Years for Honda Odyssey 3rd Generation (2005-2010)
As the Honda Odyssey ventured into its third generation between 2005 and 2010, it aimed to rectify the past and bring forward a more reliable and feature-rich minivan.
Later years of the generation – 2009 and 2010 are Honda Odyssey’s best years in this generation whereas it is wise to avoid the 2005, 2006, and 2007 Honda Odyssey model years.
The Best Years: 2009, 2010
The more robust 5-speed transmission from the Honda Ridgeline was introduced to the Odyssey to further improve transmission reliability.
With the higher trim levels, customers got access to premium features such as a power tailgate, Bluetooth, navigation systems, and a rearview camera.
Safety became a focal point for these years, with features like stability control, anti-lock disc brakes, front-seat side-impact airbags, and full-length side curtain airbags.
In terms of fuel efficiency, the Odyssey showcased figures of around 12 mpg for city driving and up to 28 mpg on the highway, making it a competitive choice for family outings.
While these models were largely free from serious issues, a few minor complaints surrounding brakes and occasional electrical glitches were reported but were not widespread.
The Neutral Years: 2008
2008 serves as a bridge year for the Odyssey, standing between Honda Odyssey’s best and worst years.
While the 2008 Honda Odyssey did witness some of the brake problems that were more pronounced in its successors, it also benefited from the technological and safety advancements Honda introduced in this generation.
The 3.5L J35A6 V6 engine, paired with the 5-speed automatic transmission, was reliable, and with trim levels ranging from LX to Touring, it provided consumers with ample choice.
Features like a sunroof, leather seating, and even a back-seat DVD entertainment system were highlights of the higher trims.
However, lingering issues, especially concerning brakes and the continued but reduced instances of sliding door malfunctions, made the 2008 Odyssey neither the best nor the worst Honda Odyssey year, thus landing it in the neutral category.
The Worst Years: 2005, 2006, 2007
With low owner ratings on platforms like VehicleHistory, and various power train issues, 2005, 2006, and 2007 are the worst Honda Odyssey years you should avoid.
Various transmission issues plagued the 2005 Honda Odyssey. Owners reported transmission slipping, jerky shifting, and hard shifting.
Sliding doors, a sore point from the second generation, remained problematic.
Furthermore, this year saw recalls related to fuel pumps, brake fluid leakage, and reduced braking performance.
In addition to continued transmission and engine issues, a significant number of the 2006 Honda Odyssey owners lamented about power steering assist loss, especially at low speeds and during parking maneuvers.
The 2007 Honda Odyssey was struggling with a multitude of problems, from increasing brake distances to persistent steering and sliding door issues.
The reduced braking performance was of particular concern, leading to another Honda recall to address the issue.
Best & Worst Years for Honda Odyssey 4th Generation (2011-2017)
The fourth generation of the Honda Odyssey, spanning from 2011 to 2017, marked another pivotal period for this celebrated minivan.
2014 is the most problematic Honda Odyssey year of this generation, so it is wise to avoid the 2014 Honda Odyssey. 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, and 2017 are Honda Odyssey’s best years in the 4th generation.
The Best Years: 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017
In these models, the Honda Odyssey benefited from a robust 3.5L J35Z8 V6 engine that generated a commendable 248 horsepower.
Most trims featured a 6-speed automatic transmission that further improved fuel efficiency, averaging about 13 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway.
The infotainment system was considerably improved, with features like Bluetooth, touchscreen controls, and the celebrated HondaVAC – a built-in vacuum cleaner for the Touring trims.
The 2017 Honda Odyssey saw high praise for its agile handling, upscale and roomy interior, and the plethora of available tech features.
Issues were few and far between, with minor complaints surrounding infotainment glitches and occasional AC problems.
The Neutral Years: 2011
The 2011 Honda Odyssey, as the debut year for this generation, grappled with finding its footing.
Equipped with the 3.5L V6 engine and a 5-speed automatic transmission for most trims (6-speed for Touring), it laid the groundwork for the improvements that would follow in subsequent years.
The redesigned exterior was sleeker, with a distinctive “lightning bolt” beltline on its sides, while the interior boasted improvements in terms of space and comfort.
However, owners reported issues like battery drainage, excessive vibration in the steering wheel, and instances of brake failures attributed to brake rotor designs.
These issues placed the 2011 model in the neutral category – it wasn’t the best, but neither was it the worst Honda Odyssey year in this generation.
The Worst Years: 2014
2014 is the black sheep of the generation. Due to various engine and transmission problems, 2014 is the Honda Odyssey year you should avoid in this generation.
Owners faced various transmission problems, including shuddering and jerking while shifting.
Moreover, the VCM (Variable Cylinder Management) system presented engine issues.
Oil leakage through piston rings into the cylinder led to misfires, often triggering the “Check Engine” light and causing internal engine damage.
This problem was significant enough for Honda to face a class-action lawsuit, which they subsequently settled.
See NHTSA 2014 Honda Odyssey recalls and complaints.
Best & Worst Years for Honda Odyssey 5th Generation (2018-Present)
Embarking on its fifth generation, the Honda Odyssey further refined its stance in the competitive minivan market.
Due to NHTSA recalls around various issues, 2018 and 2019 are categorized as the worst Honda Odyssey year you should avoid. 2021, 2022, and 2023 are the best and most reliable Honda Odyssey years of the generation.
The Best Years: 2021, 2022, 2023
Under the hood, the 3.5L J35Y6 V6 engine continued its dependable run, paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission, which also improved fuel efficiency, reaching approximately 14 mpg in urban settings and a commendable 33 mpg on highways.
Safety became a hallmark for these years, with the Honda Sensing Suite becoming standard, offering adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, and collision mitigation braking.
A notable highlight of these years is the enhanced exterior design, with sharper lines and a more aerodynamic profile.
Inside, the Magic Slide second-row seating, ample cargo space, and refined materials made journeys more comfortable and convenient.
The Neutral Years: 2020
The 2020 Honda Odyssey, while boasting significant advancements, found itself in the neutral zone mainly due to some teething issues.
Building on the foundation of previous years, it carried the trusted 3.5L V6 engine, and the majority of the features that would be refined in subsequent models were introduced this year.
However, some owners pointed out infotainment glitches, and occasional powertrain issues reminiscent of earlier models.
The Worst Years: 2018, 2019
2018 and 2019 have a surprisingly high number of NHTSA recalls concerning various problems, so they are selected as the Honda Odyssey years to avoid.
The 2018 Honda Odyssey was plagued by various powertrain issues, with owners frequently citing experiences of jerking, shuddering, and even occasional loss of motive power.
These performance issues, alongside complaints about the infotainment system – with the rearview camera occasionally malfunctioning due to a combination of Media Oriented Systems Transport cable and software issues – caused significant owner dissatisfaction.
The 2018 Odyssey had recalls due to loose battery terminal connections, faulty sliding door latches, and reduced braking performance.
Meanwhile, the 2019 Honda Odyssey grappled with similar concerns and faced a recall related to fuel pump failures that potentially caused the vehicle to stall.
Honda Odyssey Average Resale Values
The upcoming graph provides a comprehensive view of the Odyssey’s average resale values over the years.
For those considering a purchase, I’d particularly recommend 2010-2013, 2015-2017, and 2021-2023 models as the Honda Odyssey’s best and most reliable years. It’d be wise to avoid the 2nd generation, early 3rd and 5th generation, and 2014 Honda Odyssey models.
Do you own a Honda Odyssey from one of our top recommended years? How has your experience been?
Share your Odyssey experiences in the comments below!