September 10, 2005 at 5:32 pm #39
The Toyota Sienna has gotten rave reviews since its redesign for 2004. Unlike the Quest, it hit its initial model year in stride and with the backing of successful prior years. Like the Honda, Toyota has been charging a premium for the Sienna, offering little in the way of discounts, rebates or dealer negotiation. Unlike the Honda Odyssey, however, the Toyota Sienna has a wider range of trim levels, and can come as barebones as the CE or as Lexus-like as the XLE AWD. It’s difficult to argue about what a great feature AWD can be on any vehicle, and it’s my opinion that the top of the line Sienna with AWD is probably the best van on the market for this alone. But, just like my other comparisons, I was focused on a tighter budget, and wanted something comparable to a Quest S, in the $24000 MSRP range. That put us squarely in the range of a customized CE or a low-range LE.
I drove the Sienna LE immediately, minutes, after driving the Quest S. There was no way I’d drive the Sienna again. It was uncomfortable, sluggish, and overall unpleasurable to drive. The layout of the controls was definitely more conventional, but I found them to be out of reach (not to mention dull). The passengers got a much better deal on the Sienna, however, as the captains chairs were more ample and the ergonomics of the holders and baskets and the spring loaded folding rear seat were very nice.
All that said about the ergonomics, this is mainly due to Toyota predictably following tradition. Everything is where it is expected. Perhaps not were it is most easily reached. The only thing I saw a real improvement upon was the folding 3rd row: the spring loaded feature should be standard in all vans. Otherwise, the captains chair, while more ample, have to be dragged out of the van. I did like how you could have a bench if you wanted, but this would rarely be done in any van of mine.
The Quest S again offered more safety features standard. The Sienna LE at least offered some power features on the doors and liftgate unlike the Honda Odyssey LX. Still, seating, driving, and styling all went in the Quest’s favor, say nothing of the rear sonar, trip computer, and tire pressure monitors.
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