The Honda Odyssey has enjoyed a long run as king of the minivan hill. Edmunds.com named the Odyssey "Most Wanted" minivan every year since the current generation hit the market as a 1999 model, and consumers around the country reflect our editorial voting process by keeping the Odyssey perpetually on dealer order lists. While the Odyssey remains the one to beat for 2003 models, the early introduction of the 2004 Toyota Sienna could provide some stiff competition.
In order to fully appreciate the new Sienna's long list of improvements, we spent some time behind the wheel of a 2003 version just prior to our first experience in the 2004 model. Although still a capable minivan, the current Sienna showed signs of age in its interior design and was down on power compared to the competition.
The 2004 Sienna benefits from a new 3.3-liter V6 engine, increasing horsepower from 210 hp to 230 hp, and torque from 220 pound-feet to 242 lb-ft. We immediately noticed the difference around town and especially when moving into a freeway passing lane. The more powerful engine is coupled with a new five-speed automatic transmission an improvement over the previous four-speed automatic version. This combination results in better fuel mileage with preliminary EPA figures of 19 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway for two-wheel-drive models.
In addition to the larger engine and five-speed transmission, the new Sienna also offers an optional all-wheel-drive system, a benefit it claims over the Honda Odyssey and just about every other minivan on the market as well. This system not only provides peace of mind to families who live in areas where severe weather is a threat, but it's also an added safety benefit while driving on lightly dampened freeways. The all-wheel-drive system uses a center differential to divide engine power 50/50 to the front and rear wheels, so if one set of wheels begins to slip, power is automatically transferred to the wheels that have more grip. The standard 17-inch wheels that come on AWD-equipped models also feature run-flat tires for an added level of safety. All-wheel drive is available on the LE, XLE and XLE Limited models, while the CE will be limited to the standard two-wheel-drive powertrain.
With a stretched wheelbase nearly five inches longer than the current Sienna and widened front and rear tracks, the new Sienna handles much better than the previous model. The overall length has been increased by 6.5 inches, and while you might think that a larger vehicle would make for poorer handling characteristics, we found the new Sienna to be more carlike than ever before, although the Honda Odyssey shows less body roll during cornering. Surprisingly enough, even with its expanded dimensions, Toyota still managed to cut the Sienna's turning radius by more than three feet from 40 feet down to 36.8 feet, while the Odyssey is hampered comparatively at 37.7 feet.
By design, minivans are inherently used for transporting people, and therefore safety plays a big part in their design. The Sienna is no exception as it comes standard with antilock brakes, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and BrakeAssist on all models. Vehicle stability control with traction control is optional on lower-end models, but standard equipment on XLE Limited trim and all-wheel-drive models.
There are airbags aplenty in the new Sienna, including front side and side curtain airbags that cover all three rows yet another claim that the Sienna can now make over the Odyssey. The Sienna can also accommodate three child safety seats across the second row, since the LATCH (Lower Anchor with Tether for Children) system is standard in all second-row seating positions.
We were immediately impressed by the Sienna's spacious new cabin. Interior volume has increased by 45 cubic feet, making the Sienna the new class leader for cargo space at just under 149 cubic feet. The Sienna is available in both seven- and eight-passenger configurations, while the Odyssey maxes out at seven passengers. With the Sienna's seven-passenger configuration, the second-row captain's chairs can be pushed together to create a bench seat. The eight-passenger version uses a three-way split bench in the second row which allows you to pull the middle seat 13 inches closer to the driver to provide an easier reach to a pint-sized child safety-seat occupant.
One of the Odyssey's most heralded features has been its flat-folding third-row bench seat. While the Honda's seat is convenient to flip and fold into the floor, there's no doubt that it takes two hands and most of the body weight of a 120-pound woman to complete the action. The Sienna has improved upon the Odyssey's rear-seat function by engineering a 60/40-split third-row bench which can also be folded flat into the floor, either in halves or as the entire bench. Either way, flipping and folding that rear bench in two sections is much lighter and therefore easier than the Odyssey's one-piece bench. Toyota boasts that with the second-row seats removed and the third row stowed, 4-by-8 sheets of plywood can be transported flat on the Sienna's floor.
Most minivans now provide the convenience of dual sliding side doors, but not all have advanced to making them remote power doors. On the XLE and XLE Limited models, the Sienna takes the side doors, and also the rear hatch, all the way to remote power, allowing harried mothers and fathers to keep a hand on the kid and a hand on the grocery cart while the doors begin to open at the quick push of a button.
We found the Sienna's interior to be comfortable and pleasing with high-quality fabric and interior moldings on lower trim levels, and leather seating surfaces and wood trim on the high-end models. The center stack has been redesigned and sports simple stereo and climate controls, and a uniquely placed gated gearshift handle. Stereo controls work a standard AM/FM/cassette/CD unit with six speakers, or an upgraded 300-watt unit with 10 speakers and surround sound. Climate control comes in dual-zone on CE and LE models, and a new digitally operated tri-zone system on XLE and XLE Limited, allowing rear passengers to set the controls to their comfort level. While it took a few shifts between park, drive and reverse to remember that the quirky shifter was on the console instead of the steering column, we found it nothing to complain about.
Numerous storage compartments are placed throughout the Sienna's interior to secure small items that travel with you on a daily basis. We found the two gloveboxes, the large removable center console box and the 10 baggage hooks to be just the beginning of the hidden treasures found in the Sienna's nooks and crannies, and even noticed the handbag hook that designers placed on the side of the center stack in the passenger's footwell to prevent an unlatched purse from spilling its contents.
DVD rear-seat entertainment systems have been showing up on more and more family vehicles, and it was no surprise to find a DVD unit with a swing-down screen, remote control and two wireless headphone sets ready to entertain the little kids (and big kids, too) who travel as second- and third-row passengers.
The XLE model only offers Sienna buyers a GPS navigation system with a 6.5-inch touchscreen monitor and voice guidance. While we didn't travel any great distance using the nav system, we did allow it to guide us around town and found it easy to operate with simple controls. Combined with the nav system is a rearview camera monitoring system that shows a wide-angle view of the rear of the Sienna whenever the minivan is put in reverse gear. This feature will be much appreciated if you find that your kids' bikes often seem strategically placed in the driveway behind your rear tires.
The top-of-the-line XLE Limited model, a new trim level on the 2004 Sienna, gets the lion's share of the Sienna's new features. Standard on the XLE Limited is a park-assist system that uses a sonar range-finding system. The system uses two front sensors and four rear sensors with an audible beep that quickens as you close in on the obstruction in your path. Other standard equipment includes a laser cruise control system that can be set to conventional speed cruise control, or set as a time interval based on the car ahead of you, and pull-up sunshades for second- and third-row seating area windows.
There's no doubt in our minds that the 2004 Sienna will become a standout in the minivan world. Its carlike handling and innovative features will challenge all of its competition, and that's before pricing even comes into play. The Sienna CE will go on sale this spring with a price tag of $22,955 that's nearly $1,000 less than the 2003 CE model. The new Sienna is truly the right mix of product and pricing, not to mention it has the proud Toyota reputation behind it.
2004 Toyota Sienna Overview Edmunds experts have compiled a robust series of ratings and reviews for the 2004 Toyota Sienna and all model years in our database. Our rich content includes expert reviews and recommendations for the 2004 Sienna featuring deep dives into trim levels and features, performance, mpg, safety, interior, and driving. Edmunds also offers expert ratings, road test and performance data, long-term road tests, first-drive reviews, video reviews and more.
Our Review Process This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.
Consumer ratings and reviews are also available for the 2004 Toyota Sienna and all its trim types. Overall, Edmunds users rate the 2004 Sienna 4.6 on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. Edmunds consumer reviews allow users to sift through aggregated consumer reviews to understand what other drivers are saying about any vehicle in our database. Detailed rating breakdowns (including performance, comfort, value, interior, exterior design, build quality, and reliability) are available as well to provide shoppers with a comprehensive understanding of why customers like the 2004 Sienna.
Review I purchased this van with 60K miles on it in 2007. Since then I have put over 240 more. This has been the most reliable car or truck I have ever owned. The items I have repaired or replaced include tires, brakes, spark plugs, and two timing belts. I had to have a new A/C compressor last summer. Both power sliding door cables broke some time ago but I have not fixed them because the doors open and close with one finger-they are a waste. This van still has the original alternator, starter, shocks, springs and of course engine and transmission. It rides and drives nice with no real issues. I would rate the comfort very good. Well, with well over 400,000 this van remains a daily driver for our family. Three timing belt changes (two with water pumps) three spark plug changes, two radiators, a couple strut changes. I do a transmission drain and fill every year. This van just keeps on going. No rust to speak of-and we live in MI where our roads are heavily salted at least 4 months out of the year. It is almost scary that the alternator, starter, and of course engine and transmission are original . We still use this van for long road trips-but I did put the title in the glove box just in case we have to make a quick trade while far from home. My 92 YO mother comments that she loves the smooth and comfortable ride. This van has lasted more than twice as long as the two Dodge vans we had in the past (190K and 170K) and shows no signs of giving up. Yes, you do have to maintain it. I change the oil about every 5-10K miles in addition to the trans fluid changes. I add up what we spend on repairs and maintenance every year and it still does not make sense for us to lay out another $40K for a new one. I think Toyota never got the message of planned obsolescence. This van is used in mixed driving as we live in the country but travel to urban areas at least 3 times per week. 10-3-17 we still drive this van everyday. This past year we put a new radiator and brakes. The starter and battery were replaced. This was the original starter-so really not a surprise. With 428k mikes people are shocked there is no visible rust anywhere on the body. I did change the tranny fluid again. I had an oil analysis done by Blackstone Labs and it came back great with no issues.
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Available Toyota Sienna 2004 Submodel Types: Minivan
Available Trims: LE 8-Passenger, XLE 8-Passenger, XLE 7-Passenger, Limited Premium 7-Passenger, LE 7-Passenger, XLE Premium 8-Passenger, Limited 7-Passenger, SE 8-Passenger, XLE Premium 7-Passenger, XLE 7-Passenger Mobility Auto Access, L 7-Passenger, LE 7-Passenger Mobility Auto Access, SE Premium 8-Passenger, XLE Limited 7-Passenger, LE, CE 7-Passenger, Base 7-Passenger, XLE, CE 8-Passenger, CE
Exterior Colors: Predawn Gray Mica, Silver Sky Metallic, Salsa Red Pearl, Shoreline Blue Pearl, Blizzard Pearl, Super White, Midnight Black Metallic, Black, Blue Mirage Metallic, Cypress Pearl, Attitude Black Metallic, Creme Brulee Mica, Silver Shadow Pearl, Sky Blue Pearl, Desert Sand Mica, South Pacific Pearl, Sandy Beach Metallic, Slate Metallic, Arctic Frost Pearl, Silver Pine Mica, Nautical Blue Metallic, Aspen Green Pearl, Phantom Gray Pearl, Sailfin Blue Metallic, Stratosphere Mica, Denim Blue Mica Pearl Metallic, Denim Blue Pearl, Lunar Mist Metallic, Natural White, Vintage Red Pearl
Interior Colors: Ash leather, Ash premium cloth, Light Gray leather, Light Gray premium cloth, Bisque leather, Dark Bisque leather, Ash premium leather, Bisque premium cloth, Black leather, Light Gray cloth, Chestnut premium leather, Dark Bisque premium cloth, Stone cloth, Ash cloth, Dark Charcoal vinyl/cloth, Bisque cloth, Gray, Taupe cloth, Dark Charcoal leatherette/cloth, Stone, Dark Bisque cloth, Taupe, Fawn, Oak, Stone premium cloth, Taupe premium cloth
Popular Features: Fold Flat Rear Seats, Rear Bench Seats, Third-row seating, Tire Pressure Warning, 3500lb Towing Capacity, Audio and cruise controls on steering wheel, Aux Audio Inputs, Stability Control, Multi-Zone Climate Control, Trip Computer, Power Driver Seat, Auto Climate Control, Bluetooth, Back-up camera, USB Inputs, Power Liftgate/Trunk, Alarm, Sunroof/Moonroof, Navigation, Heated seats, Leather Seats, 2nd Row Bucket Seats, Blind Spot Monitoring, Keyless Entry/Start, Parking sensors, AWD/4WD, Rear Entertainment System, Post-collision safety system, Electronic Folding Mirrors, Upgraded Headlights, Upgraded Stereo, Remote Start, Adaptive Cruise Control, Automatic Emergency Braking, Pre-collision safety system