After BMWs & Saabs, I didn't expect to love this van
By anthony94114 on
2006 Toyota Sienna XLE 7-Passenger 4dr Minivan (3.3L 6cyl 5A)
I love driving. Always have. When, professionally my hauling needs exceeded the Saab and BMW wagons I've had, I hunted for a van. Ultimately, the combo of power folding mirrors, gated shifting, sunroof and no run-flats was what sold me. Not passion. I just needed those things to be content.
I found a CPO 40,000 mile XLE that had been well taken care of. Then I added a Diamond Certified Toyota warranty when I found out they were pretty cheap.
It was a total surprise to realize this rig is a great driver. You have to shift it manually to really use the transmission best, both for accelleration and braking but carving HWY 1 in rural Marin County is a blast. at 125k now, it's still super.
Best parts: Power folding side mirrors. These vans are big (still shorter than my Saab 9-5 wagon though!). Navigating into tight spaces requires the ease of button-folding mirrors. It's why I skipped the Odyssey. Great, eager engine goes and goes. Solid, crisp shifting gives control and fun. Totally flat load floor with [hard, heavy to remove] middle seats is great, though I hunger for Dodge/Chry Stow-n-Go.
At well over 100,000 miles, my van is still rattle free, reliable, solid. The only problems have been with rear door struts (I often keep the hatch open all day though) and a rock got stuck in the sliding door mech. A home made CD busted the dash player. But warranty covered it all.
The front seats aren't good. Especially coming from Saab. Removing the rear seats (I generally haul antiques, not people) is only for the strong. Why the other brands haven't knocked off Dodge/Chrysler on Stow-n-Go is mysterious. It's so smart!
I keep wanting a new, post 2011 Sienna for the look. My older one isn't great looking but the stupid mid-seat anchor bars on the newer edition ruin the load floor, so I love my flat floor. Driving a new one doesn't gain much on this- though better front seats would be nice. I get 25 on the freeway which is ok, about 18 in hilly San Francisco. I wish it was better but it's not bad. Aside from aesthetics, this is hard to beat.
149,000 mile update: Flaweless, still. This thing is a surprise. I had a Tercel when I was 18 and beat it to poop- and only rear-ending a Peugeot stopped it. I didn't expect Toyota to r-e-a-l-l-y still have the chops to impress but it does. We drive incessanly for work- in less than 11 months we've gone another 20,000 miles. Still zero rattles, no fixes, great brakes, it's a dang good rig. I've never owned a car with this many miles (ok- maybe a 1966 Volvo 122 wagon with a broken odo) and felt so confident. My [then] brand new 2003 MINI I wouldn't trust driving 15 miles. You might not have the handling of a Cooper but you sure as hell will get where you're going.