Home » Unusual Little Vans: 1996 Honda Odyssey vs 2007 Mazda 5

Unusual Little Vans: 1996 Honda Odyssey vs 2007 Mazda 5

Sbsd 2 23 2024
ADVERTISEMENT

Happy Friday, Autopians! Boy, am I glad to see the backside of this week. I didn’t feel like doing a shootout this week, so instead, I’ve just got a couple of strange little minivans for you. They’re just the thing for a quick weekend getaway with five or six of your closest friends.

But before we hit the road, we should see who won yesterday’s ’80s battle of the bands. It looks like the L7 ran away with it. I can see the appeal, but personally, if I’m going through all the trouble of freshening up an ’80s BMW, it’s going to be a stickshift. I’ll take the “slow” Camaro instead… and peel off the cringey bumper sticker before I even drive home.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Oh, and by the way, at least one of you understood what the best music video ever to feature a square-body Panther was. For the rest of you: listen all y’all, it’s a Sabotage. (Quick aside, speaking of “Sabotage” and bumper stickers, since it’s Friday, and what else have you got to do? One of the best bumper stickers I ever saw was on a Mitsubishi Mirage, right above the nameplate on the back. It just said “OH MY GOD IT’S A”. I wish I could have gotten a photo; it was glorious.)

Screenshot From 2024 02 22 16 15 11

We like minivans around here, as you may have noticed. Mostly, we like cheap beat-to-hell minivans. But sometimes, a mere Caravan or Astro just won’t do. Even a stickshift Aerostar is too plebian. Sometimes you need to get weird. But, you know, good weird, not Vanagon weird. Don’t worry; I have just the thing. Or things, rather. Here they are.

ADVERTISEMENT

1996 Honda Odyssey – $2,900

00i0i 9huai1bruus 0ci0t2 1200x900

Engine/drivetrain: 2.2 liter overhead cam inline 4, four-speed automatic, FWD

Location: Oregon City, OR

Odometer reading: 184,000 miles

Operational status: Runs and drives great

ADVERTISEMENT

Honda was late to the minivan party, and from what I’ve read, upper management had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the market. The first Odyssey was developed by an “underground” team, and what they came up with was nothing like any other minivan on the market. Based on the Accord, and featuring four regular front-hinged doors rather than sliding rear doors, the Odyssey was a bit of a flop. The people who love them really love them, and tend not to put them up for sale, making this a rare listing indeed.

01515 1qqzf69xey8 0ci0t2 1200x900

The first-gen Odyssey shared its drivetrain with the contemporary Accord, meaning a 2.2 liter four-cylinder paired with an overdrive automatic, column-shifted in a slight nod to more traditional vans. This one runs and drives well, and recently had its valve cover gasket replaced. The seller says the air conditioning still works fine, which is a nice bonus in a cheap car.

00i0i Drjpg8alvft 0ci0t2 1200x900

It’s in nice condition inside, especially for the mileage. Minivans this age are often trashed inside, but this one looks pretty good. The carpet is a bit discolored, but the seat upholstery is in nice condition. In fact, the middle seat hardly looks used at all. The rear seat on these folds into the floor, for additional cargo space; I imagine it’s pristine as well.

ADVERTISEMENT

00w0w Kajqsk2mbaq 0ci0t2 1200x900

Outside, it looks pretty good. There’s a little bit of clearcoat peeling, but it’s mostly shiny, and more importantly, not rusty. Honda still had a nasty rust problem into the 90s, and it’s not uncommon to see Accords of this era with significant rust in the rear wheel arches. I don’t see any signs of that here, but a look underneath is not a bad idea.

2007 Mazda 5 Sport – $2,450

00g0g Cmin98naxrs 0po0jm 1200x900

Engine/drivetrain: 2.3 liter dual overhead cam inline 4, five-speed automatic, FWD

Location: Portland, OR

ADVERTISEMENT

Odometer reading: 153,000 miles

Operational status: Doesn’t say, but I’m going to presume it at least runs and drives

Mazda marched to its own drummer in the early days of the minivan as well. The first-generation MPV was rear-wheel-drive, and had conventional doors like the early Odyssey. Later MPVs followed the transverse V6/two sliding doors formula established by the Dodge Caravan and copied by everyone else. But minivans grew throughout the 1990s and early 200s, and weren’t so “mini” anymore. There was room in the market for a smaller offering. Enter the Mazda 5 (or, officially, Mazda5, but I hate how that looks).

00l0l 2ej6k6sjfvr 0po0jm 1200x900

Officially a “wagon” according to Mazda, ane meant to compete against other tall wagons like the Toyota Matrix, the 5 has sliding doors on both sides, as well as three rows of seats. I’d call that a van. It’s powered by the ubiquitous MZR four-cylinder engine, in this case powering the front wheels through a five-speed automatic with a manual gate on the shifter. But who ever bothers? If you want a stick, get a stick. For this, just throw it in D and be done with it.

ADVERTISEMENT

00k0k 5qqdwv29meh 0po0jm 1200x900

This 5 is for sale at one of the dozens of used car lots up and down Southeast 82nd Avenue here in Portland, and this particular dealership is going out of business. You could probably throw a lowball offer at them and score a deal on this car, if you walk in and wave cash in their faces. However, don’t expect any maintenance history; assume the worst, and give it a good going-over when you get it home.

00d0d Fmm2s7csbwm 0po0jm 1200x900

It looks OK, both inside and out, but the hubcaps are missing in action. I appreciate the fact that they didn’t slap some ugly plastic Wal-Mart wheel covers on it; honestly I’d rather have the plain steelies. It also comes with a Thule roof rack, which I personally would immediately remove and sell; I’m not a fan.

So that’s it for this week! For next week’s showdowns, I’m open to suggestions. Are there particular cars you’d like me to look for? Specific cars I should feature? Places I should look? Let me know in the comments. Thanks for reading!

ADVERTISEMENT

(Image credits: Craigslist sellers)

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on whatsapp
WhatsApp
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit
Subscribe
Notify of
82 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Xpumpx
Xpumpx
1 month ago

I picked the 5 because they’re rad. was their no Kia Rondo available to make it a 3 way?

Allen Lloyd
Allen Lloyd
1 month ago

I loved my 5 and it almost required a roof box because if you filled it with people there was no room for stuff. That said it was also the ultimate AutoX course setup vehicle. Fill it with cones and drive the course with a person dropping cones on either side. Then after it is unloaded go set a time and laugh at the people who get beat by a mini van later in the day 🙂

Taz Harrison
Taz Harrison
1 month ago

I wanted to bad to get a new Mazda5 when I changed cars a couple of years ago. My first was just such an amazing car.

Remarkably Useful. that’s the best description I can give.

it drove sweetly, it could seat 6, I could sleep in it, it could move large amounts of crap, it could park in a city.
I bought it at 100k and kept it till 250k.

I wish i could still buy another one.

James Carson
James Carson
1 month ago

Test drove a Mazda 5 when they first came out. It puts the penalty in penalty box. My garden tractor handles better and is faster. Hot garbage IMO. The Honda any day.

Chris D
Chris D
1 month ago

That Odyssey is really calling my name… it’s my old ’94 Accord in a station wagon body. (Some lady with no driver license did me the favor of totaling it…) They are wonderful drive trains – too bad the Odyssey didn’t come with a manual transmission. I’ll bet the Ody is good for another hundred thousand miles, if the tranny has been taken care of.

Freelivin1327
Freelivin1327
1 month ago

I’ll take the Odyssey

Sam I am
Sam I am
1 month ago

We had a 97 Odyssey for 17 years, longest I’ve ever kept a car and it was still as solid as the day we bought it. Really regret selling it.

FleetwoodBro
FleetwoodBro
1 month ago

For six months I had a 2015 Peugeot 5008, which was about half a hand’s width shorter and narrower than a Mazda 5. This type of vehicle is just unbelievable for families and we have nothing like it for sale in the states now. You need to take five kids to a birthday party, throw ’em in. Is that birthday party in a dense urban city with scarce parking? You will find a spot you can fit in. Do you need to pick up a dresser and a bike at the same time? Fold down the seats and throw ’em in. You got a short garage? The Pug and Mazda will fit. Did someone park too close to you? Sliding doors!

This Peugeot I had drove all across Western Europe for weeks with four people and all their luggage in it. I drove it 200kmph (indicated, who really knows?) on the autobahn. It was a diesel w/ a manual and got like a million miles per gallon. They are popular in France but the rest of the world sleeps on them.

Anyway, I got back here and what did Enterprise have for me? A Mazda 5. It was a tiny bit worse in every way but still great. I vote Mazda 5!

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
1 month ago

I remember when it seemed like every time I got in a cab in NYC, it was an Accord-o-van. It amazed me how roomy they were inside for their foot print. A far nicer ride than the default Crown Vics everywhere. I think it will get my vote. + it’s red, so winner!

82
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x