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By Jim Flammang
February 27, 2002
Vehicle Overview A new Symphony Package is available for the LE edition of Toyotas front-wheel-drive minivan, which is offered in a choice of three body colors. A substantial list of extra items in the option group includes captains chairs in the first two rows, a premium JBL cassette/CD stereo with eight speakers, a six-way power drivers seat, heated mirrors and Symphony badging.
While dual-sliding side doors are standard, power operation is now available as an option. A premium JBL cassette/CD stereo is available as a separate option in the LE model. The Sienna comes in three trim levels: CE, LE and the top-of-the-line XLE.
Toyota launched the Kentucky-built Sienna as a 1998 model. Sales fell by 14 percent in 2001, as they did for most minivans on the market, according to Automotive News. In the minivan sales race, Toyota ranked just a hair below the Chevrolet Venture; both makes sold more than 88,000 vehicles.
Exterior The Sienna rides a 114.2-inch wheelbase, stretches 194.1 inches long overall and stands 66.9 inches tall. Dual-sliding side doors are standard. Power operation is optional for the right-side door on LE and XLE models, and powered dual sliders are optional on the XLE.
All models have 15-inch tires. A roof rack and integrated fog lights are standard on the XLE edition.
Interior The Sienna seats seven occupants. The CE and LE have a two-person bench seat in the second row. Captains chairs are installed in the second row of the XLE and are optional for the LE. A 50/50-split bench seat that can be slid fore and aft goes into the third row. With the second- and third-row seats folded, the Sienna can hold up to 133.5 cubic feet of cargo.
Standard equipment in the CE includes a six-way drivers seat, tilt steering wheel, battery-saver circuitry and dual-zone front/rear air conditioning. The LE adds powered rear quarter windows with privacy glass, a full-size spare tire, a tachometer, cruise control, lighted vanity mirrors, and power windows, door locks and mirrors.
An in-dash six-CD changer goes into the LE and XLE. The XLE has a standard automatic climate control system for the front and rear, as well as heated mirrors, multi-adjustable power seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and carpeted floormats. An auto-dimming mirror with a compass is optional. Heated seats with leather upholstery are also available in the XLE. A rear-seat video entertainment system with a VCR in a covered unit between the front seats and a 6.8-inch video screen may be installed in all models.
Under the Hood The Sienna uses a 210-horsepower, 3.0-liter V-6 engine with VVT-i technology; it teams with a four-speed-automatic transmission. Toyotas minivan has been designated a Low Emissions Vehicle (LEV) and earns an EPA fuel-economy rating of 19 mpg city and 24 mpg highway. With the optional towing package, the Sienna can haul as much as 3,500 pounds.
Safety Antilock brakes and a low-tire-pressure warning system are standard. Side-impact airbags and Vehicle Skid Control, an electronic stability system, are optional.
Driving Impressions If any minivan matches the current Chrysler and Dodge models in overall appeal, it has to be the Sienna. From the first moment behind the wheel, its evident that youre driving a refined, civilized, well-built vehicle. In performance, handling, ride quality and seating comfort, the Sienna ranks at or near the top of the league. No minivan, in fact, is more carlike in behavior.
Acceleration is brisk at any speed or from a standstill. The V-6 powertrain responds swiftly and positively to pressure on the gas pedal. It delivers a smooth surge of added power to get the job done nothing fancy, just effective. Steering is at a satisfying level between light and tight. A modestly firm suspension is taut enough for top-notch control, yet soft enough to cushion the vast majority of bumps and imperfections. On top of all that, the Sienna is quiet in every respect.
All seats are well cushioned and comfortable. The high-mounted climate control unit has large buttons one of several thoughtful touches. A flexible interior layout yields plenty of space in the second row. Storage space is adequate, but the glove box is puny in size.