- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 3, 2003

What do you get if you take all the choice features from all the minivans and roll them into one package? Well, if you are Toyota you get the new Sienna. And, you get a Sienna that does so many things so well you may think it is too good to be true. The thing about Toyota is when it set out to build the new Sienna it made sure it did everything just right.

For me, one major glitch in the whole package is its somewhat blase styling. I can’t get too picky about it; after all this is a minivan, and you can only do so much with the styling of such a versatile vehicle.

Plenty of storage space here, even with all seats up and occupied by driver and seven passengers. And, if more cargo space is needed, toss one or more of your passengers and start folding seats. The second row 60/40 split seats have about a 6-inch adjustment fore and aft and fold down against the floor for additional storage. The third row disappears rearward and stows into a compartment in the floor, opening a whole lot of storage space.

From the driver’s seat, the instrument panel and dash offer the usual complement of gauges, switches and controls, all within easy reach and viewing.

The four-speed automatic shift lever is located in the center stack just below the heater and air-conditioning controls.

This placement opens up more room between the front seats for access to the second-row seat.

Of course, the prerequisite DVD player for rear passengers is available, combined with various packages that carry a hefty price of more than $3,500. I welcome the addition of opening windows in the sliding doors.

Based on the same platform that gives us the Camry, the Sienna has the ride comfort and handing many other entries in this category would die for.

The suspension system tends to lean (no pun intended) toward comfort, yet the Sienna handles well.

When you consider that this vehicle can carry up to eight in comfort, driving a minivan might not be so bad.

The Sienna isn’t a powerhouse, nor is a road slouch. It is powered by an aluminum V-6 engine that produces 230 horsepower and 242 foot-pounds of torque.

Mated with the four-speed automatic transmission, this combination gives the Sienna the ability to smoothly merge into freeway traffic.

Versatility and the ability to perform the tasks asked of a minivan are the very reasons families look to these vehicles.

As any soccer mom with tell you it isn’t because she enjoys the idea of driving a minivan.

This is like driving a station wagon in the 1950s.

You know you need the features the vehicle offers, but it is difficult to be seen behind the wheel.

Auto designers are well aware of this syndrome and strive to make the vehicle look less of what it is. So goes the redesigned Sienna styling.

Granted it isn’t easy to make a vehicle that is essentially a box look like anything other than a box.

The Sienna can be considered much more stylish than many others.

Taking into consideration that this is a Toyota and Toyota vehicles have established themselves as reliable, comfortable and accommodating, the Sienna can be considered a wise choice in the minivan field.

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