|Toyota found that electronic stability control reduced single-vehicle crashes in Japan by a remarkable 35% and head-on crashes by 30%. And in the European study, Mercedes-Benz, whose lineup has sported ESC as a standard feature since 1999, reported a 29% drop in single-vehicle accidents; crashes of all types fell 15%. Those kinds of results could prevent as many as 6,000 of the nearly 43,000 crash-related deaths each year in the U.S.--dramatically more than air bags, which have saved about 800 lives annually since 1987, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA).|
So although the two vehicles command a bit of a premium over their domestic counterparts, we justified the purchase based on the thinking behind the old joke, "What's funny about safety?" "Nothing." Additionally, the two Japanese models have historically held their resale value better than the domestics. In fact, comparing Edmunds.com True Cost to OwnSM values for earlier model years, the Honda, despite higher initial sticker price, had the lowest TCOSM values.
Between the two finalists, the Honda drives more like a sport sedan, while the Toyota drove more like a plush Cadillac -- nice just not my thing. So we went with the Odyssey. The 25 extra horses in the Honda didn't hurt either. The kids love it, and it's what works for us right now. As far as the mini-van stigma, I've decided that I didn't need to have so much of my identity wrapped up in what I drive.