Vehicle Overview
Toyota introduced the second-generation version of its Sienna minivan at Detroit’s North American International Auto Show in early January 2003. Not only has its power been increased, but the redesigned Sienna is also available with either all-wheel drive or two-wheel drive.

“The all-American Sienna has been improved, refined and enlarged,” said Don Esmond, senior vice president and general manager of Toyota Division. Toyota promises class-leading interior comfort, convenience and flexibility.

The all-new chassis has a wheelbase more than 5 inches longer than that in the previous model. The front and rear tracks are each nearly 4 inches wider, yet the 2004 Sienna has a turning radius more than 3 feet tighter than its predecessor. Total interior volume has grown by more than 44 cubic feet.

The Sienna is offered in four trim levels: CE, LE, XLE and the new top-of-the-line XLE Limited. All-wheel drive is available on the three upper-end models. Sienna CE and LE minivans come in both seven- and eight-passenger configurations.

More than 90 percent of the Sienna’s content comes from North American suppliers, and the minivan is built on an all-new assembly line in Princeton, Ind. The 2004 Sienna went on sale in March 2003.

Disabled motorists may purchase an IMS Sienna Rampvan, which is Toyota’s first wheelchair-accessible vehicle sold in the United States. Independent Mobility Systems Inc. handles the conversion, and Rampvans are sold through IMS dealers.

Toyota says a significant amount of Sienna styling was done at the CALTY design studio in Newport Beach, Calif. Even though the Sienna’s basic appearance hasn’t changed dramatically, the dimensions on the new version are markedly larger. The 2004 Sienna rides a 119.3-inch wheelbase and measures 200 inches long overall - that represents an increase of 6.5 inches. Standing 68.9 inches tall, the 2004 Sienna is 4 inches wider than its predecessor. Standard tires are 16 inches in diameter, but alloy wheels on the XLE Limited hold 17-inch tires.

Two distinct second-row seating options are available. The seven-passenger configuration features second-row captain’s chairs with a passenger-side chair that can be moved side to side, permitting either a bench or bucket arrangement. To hold eight passengers, the Sienna can have a three-way split, folding bench seat in the second row. A “Front and Center” middle seat can be moved almost 13 inches closer to the front seat, making infants in child-safety seats more accessible. Cargo volume totals 148.9 cubic feet behind the front seats or 94.5 cubic feet behind the second row.

A standard 60/40 “Split & Stow” bench seat in the third row folds flat into the floor. Either side of the seat may be stowed separately via a low-effort one-hand operation. With the rear seat stowed and the second-row seats removed, 4-by-8-foot plywood sheets can be loaded flat. Optional equipment includes a rear-seat DVD video system, a navigation system with a rearview camera, backseat audio, laser cruise control and a woodgrain/leather-covered steering wheel. Sonar-based front and rear parking assistance and a 360-watt JBL Synthesis cassette/six-CD stereo with a 10-speaker surround sound audio system are also optional.

Under the Hood
An all-new 3.3-liter V-6 engine produces 230 horsepower and 242 pounds-feet of torque; it drives a five-speed-automatic transmission with intelligence. Toyota claims that the Sienna can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 8.3 seconds, calling that figure best in class. The Sienna qualifies as a Level II Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle (ULEV-II).

Antilock brakes are standard, and all-wheel-drive models have standard all-disc brakes. Vehicle Stability Control with traction control and Brake Assist are optional. Side-impact airbags for the front seats and side curtain-type airbags that cover all three rows of seats are standard in the XLE Limited and optional in other Sienna models.

Driving Impressions
Toyota has taken its already-excellent minivan and turned it into a superior, well-executed people hauler. The new Sienna runs quietly, just like its predecessor, and it steers with a light touch. The new model is easy to drive. Acceleration from a standstill is eager and energetic, coupled with relatively prompt and effective responses for passing and merging.

The Sienna’s ride comfort is the only notable imperfection, and it’s comparatively minor. Even though the suspension doesn’t ignore bumps, which are typically felt, few cause any bothersome commotion. The Sienna is stable on the highway and easy to keep on course. The brakes are easy to modulate, and the minivan corners adeptly with little effort.

The second-row seats are excellent, and the third row folds down easily. Visibility is outstanding, except for tall back headrests that tend to block the rearward view. The seat bottoms are short, but the driver’s seat is comfortable and helpfully supportive, with plenty of space around it. The gated gearshift is in an excellent position, and the immense glove box is easy to reach.