Money-conscious buyers sitting on the sidelines and waiting for the car market to correct are beginning to get their way.
The vehicle market is slowly returning to normal with dealerships holding average or even excess supply while prices start to moderate.
One couple is considering a new or used van after squeezing every last mile out of a previous vehicle. So should they get a Honda Odyssey or a Toyota Sienna?
That’s what a listener of the Clark Howard Podcast recently asked.
Honda Odyssey vs. Toyota Sienna: Which Van Does Clark Howard Prefer?
I want to buy a van. Should I get a Honda Odyssey or a Toyota Sienna?
That’s what a Clark listener asked on the May 30 podcast episode.
Asked Anna in Florida: “My ’95 Honda Civic finally bit the dust. I was hoping to drive it until the market got better.
“We own one sedan but my wife is pregnant with baby No. 2 and I don’t love leaving her without a car when I go to work. It’s a bit of a commute so being dropped off isn’t really an option.
“We definitely want a Toyota Sienna or Honda Odyssey but are unsure if we should buy new or a 2- to 4-year-old model. We plan to keep the car a very long time as witnessed by my dear departed Civic. Baby is due in October so we have a little bit of time.
“Which option do you advise?”
Nursing any vehicle for 28 years is quite a feat. Congratulations to Anna for doing such a good job maintaining her car. Assuming that Anna and her family will continue to be long-term owners, fuel economy becomes even more important.
A 2023 Honda Odyssey sold for a starting MSRP of $37,490 as of May. A 2023 Toyota Sienna started at $36,885.
“The advantage in your case would go to Sienna because they’re all hybrids. And over a 20-year period, the greatly reduced fuel burn will benefit you so much,” Clark says.
“The fact that you’re getting [almost] double the fuel economy to me would make the Sienna the better choice.”
Test Drive Both Vehicles Before Buying
Clark acknowledged that Honda Odyssey vs. Toyota Sienna generally is the debate for anyone in the market for a van right now.
He didn’t go as far as to suggest an alternative choice. But he does think Anna and her wife should test drive both vehicles before making a firm decision.
“I’d go drive both of them. Because you’re going to own it for so long. I mean, for 20+ years, potentially,” Clark says. “And fuel economy isn’t everything. It’s just really helpful. And see which one you like.”
Honda Odyssey vs. Toyota Sienna: New or Used?
Back to the second part of Anna’s original question: Should she buy new or used?
Clark has almost always advised against buying a new vehicle. Because the value of your new car depreciates so quickly as soon as you drive it off the lot.
However, market forces were atypical in the last three years after major supply chain and demand impacts from COVID-19. The return to normal hasn’t happened all at once.
“Definitely buy a new car right now,” Clark says. “If you’re looking at buying one a couple of years old, which is normally something I would tell people to do, right now you’re not getting [enough of a] discount.
“I think right now, particularly for an ultra-long-term owner like yourself, buy new.”
To recap, Clark would pick a Toyota Sienna over a Honda Odyssey because of the significant advantage in fuel economy. That will save Anna a lot of money over potentially decades of ownership.
However, he thinks Anna and her wife should test-drive both models and see which one they like better.
Also, in an unusual occurrence, Clark says that he’d buy new rather than used at this moment in time. Especially if you plan on keeping your vehicle for a decade or more.