Introduced for the 1998 model year, the Sienna minivan was Toyota's replacement for the quirky, mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive Previa. With its sights set on the class-leading people-haulers from Dodge, Ford and Honda, the Sienna was a competent if not particularly innovative offering.
The minivan was based on a lengthened version of the company's well-regarded and highly-successful Camry platform. Like the Camry, the Sienna was a solid, dependable, but unexciting driving appliance. While a few die-hard Toyota fans lamented the passing of the memorable and unique Previa, the larger, more conventional front-wheel-drive Sienna was just what the average minivan shopper was looking for.
The Sienna received a mild mid-cycle refresh for the 2001 model year. The front and rear fascias were restyled to give the van a more contemporary look, and the interior was revised for better ergonomics.
The Sienna was slightly lower and narrower than most of its competitors. While some drivers appreciated the easier parking and greater maneuverability the vehicle's relatively compact shape offered, space-hungry minivan shoppers generally saw it as a mark against the Toyota. The Sienna was 194.2 inches long, 67.3 inches tall and 73.4 inches wide. Its wheelbase measured 114.2 inches. The minivan's curb weight was 3,932 pounds and, with all the seats in place, it offered 26.6 cubic feet of cargo space.
The Sienna was powered by a 3.0-liter V-6 engine. Sourced from the Camry sedan, it was a smooth-running, dual-overhead-cam, 24-valve unit. Toyota's VVT-i variable-vale-timing technology was added for the 2001 model year. It boosted power output and enhanced throttle response throughout the engine's rev range.
The performance of the Sienna's engine compared favorably with its competitors. It produced 210 horsepower at 5,800 rpm and a muscular 220 foot-pounds of torque at 4,400 rpm. For comparison, the class-leading 2001 Dodge Caravan's optional V-6 generated only 180 horsepower and 210 foot-pounds of torque.
Interior Features and Comfort
The mid-level LE trim was positioned between the bare-bones CE and luxurious XLE trims. It featured most of the comfort and convenience features mainstream buyers look for, including power locks, mirrors and windows, cruise control, a tilt-adjustable steering wheel, 12-volt front and rear outlets, air conditioning with rear-seat vents and a four-speaker CD stereo.
The Sienna's cabin reminded many drivers of the Camry's. That meant good fit-and-finish, high-quality but somewhat rough materials and a dashboard design that was functional if a bit dull aesthetically. Soft and comfy captain's chairs seated front and middle row occupants. The rear bench seat, while still best-suited for children, was roomier and more accommodating than average for this type of vehicle.
When it came to fuel efficiency, the Sienna was above-average for its class. Toyota's minivan received an EPA rating of 17 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway. This was a touch better, for instance, than the Dodge Caravan's 16-22 and the Honda Odyssey's 16-23 ratings.
Although Toyota models tend to depreciate slower than many of their competitors, the 2001 Sienna's advanced age means finding a low-cost used example shouldn't be difficult. Kelley Blue Book reports that, as of 2014, the going rate for an LE model in good condition is between $2,815 and $3,165.