Honda Ownership Experience

For her monthly column, an editor of mine is collecting a list of Honda products owned by her magazine’s staff and contributors. Anecdotes are also welcome. She owns a Honda power washer, an ATV, an outboard engine, a vintage Honda 90 motorbike, a moped, and a vintage three-wheel ATV.

Here’s what I sent in:

Rather than a minivan, it's a Bentley and I
Rather than a minivan, which would be prosaic, it's a Bentley and I.

When Susan and I came to Michigan in October 1985, we drove the Civic wagon that we had purchased new just a couple of months earlier. We owned that car for 11.5 years and 142K miles, selling it when rust started to cause some problems (oil pan, fuel filler neck). And I wanted something bigger. I bought a brand-new 1997 Voyager minivan but wasn’t happy with it. Automobile ran a Four Seasons wrap-up on the Honda Odyssey (Feb. 2000 issue: “Twelve months: A home run in drivability and utility, but the power doors strike out,” by Joe Lorio). I went out the next week and bought an Odyssey LX, without the power doors. That purchase was transacted January 31, 2000, for $25,304 including sales tax. We still have the Odyssey, now with 114,226 miles. It’s the only four-wheel vehicle that we own. (I have a Suzuki motorcycle.)

I put the Odyssey in the shop last month for some brake work, and the service writer said it’s in “outstanding shape.” It still has the original starter and alternator, which amazes me. And the original exhaust system, minus the catalytic converter, which became clogged at 68,105 miles in January 2006. Honda graciously replaced it at no charge even though our warranty had expired three years earlier! Otherwise, keeping the thing on the road has just been a matter of replacing brakes, bulbs, and the battery. Last winter, both of the rear brake drums warped, and replacement came to $285. Aside from oil changes and a CHMSL bulb, that was the only expense for repairs in a year’s time—incredible for a nine-year-old vehicle. There’s no rust to speak of and the Odyssey still drives great although it does rattle on our bumpy Ann Arbor streets. I’ve used it for everything from busing around the members of our reading group to hauling drywall and insulation. We’ve moved twice since 2002, and the number of boxes that will go into the cargo area is astonishing. The last couple of years I’ve bought split firewood from a farmer in Bridgewater and just filled up the whole cargo area from the front seats back. It’s a tremendous workhorse but gets 26 mpg at 75 mph on the road to and from Traverse City. Barring an unforeseen disaster, I’ll still have it five years from now.

I also have the four-year-old Honda HRX mower that I bought from Honda when Automobile did a Honda special issue. It’s my second Honda mower; I let the first one go as we downsized into a condo from 2002 till 2005.

From a Honda press event, I picked up a Honda cap, and it stays clipped to my motorcycle’s helmet hook, so I have something to cover my bald head when the bike is parked during an outing. I also have a Dodge cap, but Michigan International Speedway is the only place I’d consider wearing that.

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