2000 Toyota Sienna car review
|Gas mileage||Our experience, usually low: 22 highway|
|Clearly Superior In:||Reputation for reliability|
|Above Average In:||Gas mileage, resale value|
|Needs Work In:||Child seat friendliness, stability in cross-winds, "the little things"|
Over the years, many challengers have tried to take the minivan crown from Chrysler. Now, "other" brands have 60% of the market, but Chrysler still holds on to the largest share. Like the Honda Odyssey, the Sienna has one key advantage that will attract many buyers: it is made by a company known for its reliability.
Our test car had no buzzes or squeaks, but one of the rear vent windows rattled when partly open.
The engine seemed to be about average for modern minivans in terms of power, but achieved better fuel economy (by about 2 mpg) and was quieter than usual. The transmission was smooth and downshifted readily and quietly.
The interior was, as one would expect, comfortable and spacious, with the usual cup-holders and cubbies. Small cargo nets and moderately well designed cupholders are built into the sides of the front seats. The rear seats can be easily folded over or taken out, and are closer to the Chevrolet design than the Dodge. The dual sliding doors were convenient and easy to use, and the power door was entertaining.
Though one would expect that many minivans would be purchased by families, there was only one place in our leather-equipped van to safely strap in a child seat - in the center of the rearmost bank of seats. That means you cannot have two safely installed child seats, a significant flaw. Toyota does offer a built-in child seat, on the other hand.
The optional sunroof opens all the way to vent parking-lot heat. The power door, window, and rear vent controls were clear, well designed, and easy to figure out.
The optional stereo, with both CD and cassette player, had good sound, as well as a steering wheel control that let us change or mute the volume and change stations.
The ride was smooth and comfortable, though a bit more firm than the Caravan. The difference was not strong, and both vehicles have capable handling and braking.
A variety of hidden bins are available for sunglasses and other bits, but a good coin holder would have helped. The driver's armrest was a bit far from the seat.
While the Caravan still surpasses the Sienna in terms of acceleration, handling, and user friendliness, Toyota has done an exceptional job of reworking the Sienna. When you consider Toyota's legendary quality, this assembled-in-America minivan becomes attractive.