1999 is the second year for the Toyota Sienna. Built off a stretch of the same platform as the front-wheel-drive Camry (114.2-inch wheelbase on the van versus 105.2 sedan), it offers basically the same ride and handling as the sedan, softly cushioned yet predictable, a long-distance hauler that promises room and comfort for the family and the Toyota name that stands for reliability and dependability. It comes with a manual driver-side slide-open door and an optional power passenger-side slider (new for '99), which, in our test vehicle, came as part of a $2,685 package that included leather seats and power moonroof. Of note, we fiddled with the door for a week and could not get the power mechanism to work. A power glass roof in a van is much appreciated to help vent stale air in a large cabin often filled with kids and/or pets. The 3-liter, 194-horsepower, 24-valve V-6 is teamed with 4-speed automatic. Ample power and quiet operation and 18 m.p.g. city/24 m.p.g. highway mileage, about the same as Montana. Lots of standard goodies in the XLE we tested, such as ABS; power windows/locks/heated mirrors; air conditioning with front and rear controls; power driver's seat; premium audio system with cassette and CD players; three-row, seven-passenger seating; rear-window washer/wiper/defogger; low tire-pressure warning light; first- and second-row captain's chairs (which create a walk-through to the third seat); body-colored bumpers and side moldings; pull-out drawer under the front passenger seat; and a pair of power plugs for accessories. Cupholders fold down from the side of the driver and front passenger seat, an awkward position low and out of sight. The brakes were too spongy and traction control isn't offered. Base price: $27,697. Add the leather (a tad slippery) seat/moonroof/power slider package for $2,685 and $420 for freight.
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