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1998 Toyota Sienna Van

5dr XLE

Starting at | Starting at 18 MPG City - 24 MPG Highway

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  • $27,230 original MSRP
Printable Version

1998 Toyota Sienna Van

Printable Version

1998 Toyota Sienna Van


1998 Toyota Sienna XLE

Source: New Car Test Drive

by Marcia Ruff

A new player in the minivan market.

Base Price $27,520
As Tested $30,090

Sometimes it pays to come late to the party.

After years of lingering on the sidelines of the minivan market with the innovative but uncompetitive Previa, Toyota is finally stepping onto the main floor with the all-new Sienna.

During these years, Toyota had a chance to study the competition. It took the best minivan ideas out there and executed them well in its handsome new Sienna.

Selecting a Sienna is simple: it comes in one length with one powertrain, a powerful V-6 mated to a smooth four-speed automatic. Beyond that, it comes with all the best features pioneered by the leaders in the minivan market: it offers the two sliding doors, a feature popularized by Chrysler. It has the modular seats and optional power sliding door that General Motors contributed to the formula. And it has the good crashworthiness and car-like ride and handling that distinguish the Ford Windstar.

Put the Toyota name on such an intelligent package and you have a instant member of the minivan A-list. The Sienna hasn't invented any new dance steps, but it handles the old standards smoothly.


Toyota learned its lesson from its struggles with the Previa. It learned that most minivan buyers want conventional looks and uncompromised functionality.

The Previa was rear-wheel drive, anathema to buyers who like the wet-weather security of front-drive. It had an overworked four-cylinder engine hidden under the driver's seat. The rounded shape was too dramatic. To top it off, it was expensive.

Convention is the watchword for the new Sienna. In appearance, the Sienna is clean, classic minivan with subtle touches of sport-utility styling. The long, sloping nose is unmistakably minivan, but the square lines elsewhere -- particularly when viewed from the rear--recall a sport-utility vehicle. Where many minivans display vast sweeps of metal, the Sienna has a relatively even proportion of glass to metal, another SUV allusion.

The Sienna is also conventional in its front-drive layout. It is based on a stretched version of the Camry platform. In fact, it is even built on the same Georgetown, Ky., assembly line as the Camry. Basing the Sienna on the Camry gives it nice road manners. It also makes it less expensive to design and build -- a win-win situation for carmaker and buyer. These savings allow Toyota to bring the price of the Sienna closer to the norm for the class.

Sitting in the driveway, the Sienna looks neat and compact. The length of the Sienna, 193 inches, puts it about halfway between the short and long Chrysler minivans. It's three inches narrower than the Chrysler vans and one inch lower in height.

Despite its moderate length, the inside of the Sienna is roomy. Three-row seating is standard, and the rear cargo area is an accommodating 18 inches deep from hatch opening to seatback. The flip-and-fold seats make it simple to expand the cargo area as needed.

If you need to remove the seats entirely, they can be lifted out individually. The process is a little awkward because the seatback must remain upright during removal. On the General Motors minivans, the seatback is flat, making the package a more manageable cube shape. On the other hand, the Sienna seat latches are superbly executed, releasing easily and reconnectly surely.

The Inside Story

The interior of the Sienna is equally conventional. The easy step-in puts the driver in a commanding position with big, bright instrument panel gauges and an excellent view in all directions, thanks to all the glass.

Storage is close at hand without impeding the generous pass-through to the rear. A handy little net attached to the sides of the front seats is great for storing toll tickets, sunglasses and other small objects. Fold-down cupholders next to the storage net secure drinks but get out of the way when not in use.

The second row can be equipped with either captain's chairs or bench (the latter is required with the integrated child seat). The seatbacks fold down to provide a flat surface for food and games and cupholders. Molded into the doors are round holders suitable for one-liter bottles -- a nice idea.

Pleasant as it is, the Sienna's interior most betrays the attention to cost required to make this vehicle profitable for Toyota. The designers borrowed switches, gauges, and parts from the Camry, Corolla and Avalon. They are all perfectly functional and no doubt utterly reliable, but they don't display Chrysler's ergonomic excellence in this area.

Audio and climate controls are mounted high on the center dashboard for good access, but the ashtray and second power plug are down low and angled out of the way. The column-mounted shifter works well, slipping cleanly into the desired gear, but I kept bumping the windshield wiper stalk and activating the wipers when I shifted into Park. And the seats, even in the top-of-the-line XLE we tested, lacked side-to-side support to keep you comfortably anchored. The optional leather made the slipping and sliding even more noticeable.

The Sienna has three trim levels: CE, LE and XLE. The $21,560 CE is pretty bald for the money. Air conditioning, cruise control, cassette player, and power windows, locks and mirrors are all optional. The second sliding door isn't even available. Since Toyota has the capacity to build only 70,000 Siennas a year, it is focusing on the better-equipped models.

Most people will likely opt for the mid-line LE for its superior package of features-for-the-dollar. The $24,395 five-door LE comes standard with the second sliding door, air conditioning, power windows, locks and mirrors, cruise control, radio/cassette player, privacy glass (important for cutting down on heat gain), and access to most of the options list, including the captain's chairs, six-speaker audio system, integrated child seat, and power sliding door.

If you want all the frills, you need the $27,520 XLE. This is the only model that offers leather trim and a gloriously huge power moonroof ($2,390 for both), as well as the premium six-speaker audio system with radio, cassette and single-slot CD.

Ride & Drive

When you start with a Camry, you start well. The Sienna has borrowed heavily from the Camry, using its 3.0-liter V-6 engine, four-speed electronic transmission, steering system, gearbox, and front suspension.

The result is a minivan with a ride as good as is out there. A big, tall box will never ride and handle as well as a low, sleek sedan, but the Sienna is pretty darn good. It would be better, though, with a stiffer suspension. It soaks up bumps well, but leans a bit too much in corners for our tastes.

As the sole engine choice, the Toyota V-6 is easy to live with. It doesn't feel as zippy as it does in the much lighter Camry, but it's smooth, reliable, and economical. At 194 horsepower, it's efficient, too, making 44 more horsepower than either the Chrysler or Ford 3.0-liter V-6s.

But it's not the most powerful engine out there. With both Chrysler and Ford, you can order 3.8-liter V-6s with a lot more torque for easier cruising with a heavy load. The Toyota V6 also requires premium fuel, which is unfortunate in a run-around-town family vehicle.

Final Word

What's not to like? The Sienna is a minivan that meets all the performance and function standards in the marketplace, and it's made by Toyota here in the USA.

The Sienna lacks a few gee-whiz features that can be found on some of its competitors, notably the rear audio jacks on the Ford and GM models that let you and your kids enjoy separate music, and the OnStar navigation and emergency service package that can be ordered with GM minivans.

In the Sienna's favor, though, is Toyota's reputation for superior quality and reliability, high resale value, and excellent crashworthiness. Probably the only real drawback buyers can expect will be at the dealership where the Sienna's limited availability -- and likely popularity -- will cut down significantly on wheeling and dealing.

Order our 200+ page magazine of reviews. Send $8.00 (S&H included) to New Car Test Drive, 2145 Crooks Rd. Suite 200, Troy, MI 48084

©1998 New Car Test Drive, Inc.

Printable Version

1998 Toyota Sienna Van

Safety Ratings help

What do the Safety Ratings mean?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) performs independent crash testing of new vehicles and then assigns them a score based on their performance. The overall crash test rating is based on how a vehicle performs in the following tests:

Driver Crash Grade:

Measures the chance of a serious injury to a crash test dummy that is placed in a driver's seat and driven into a fixed barrier at 35 MPH. A five-star rating means there is 10 percent or less chance of injury.

Passenger Crash Grade:

Similar to the driver crash grade, only now the focus is on the passenger.

Rollover Resistance:

Simulates an emergency lane change to measure the likelihood of a vehicle rolling over. A five-star rating means there is 10 percent or less risk of rollover.

Side Impact Crash Test - Front:

Focuses on the front side of a vehicle. It simulates crashes that can occur in intersections by striking a 3,015-pound weight against the side of a vehicle at 38.5 MPH. A five-star rating means there is 5 percent or less chance of injury.

Side Impact Crash Test - Rear:

Similar to the front side impact test only now the focus is on the rear passenger.

Driver Crash Grade

No consumer rating

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Passenger Crash Grade

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Side Impact Crash Test - Front

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Side Impact Crash Test - Rear

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Safety Features & Equipment

Braking & Traction

4-Wheel ABS Std
Tire Pressure Monitoring System Std

Passenger Restraint

Driver Air Bag Std
Passenger Air Bag Std
Child Safety Locks Std

Road Visibility

Intermittent Wipers Std
Variable Inter. Wipers Std


Alarm Std
Printable Version

1998 Toyota Sienna Van

Original Warranty  help
Original Warranty
An original warranty is the warranty associated with a vehicle when it is brand new. In addition to the original warranty, select items, like tires, are typically covered by respective manufacturers. Also, an act of Federal law sometimes provides protection for certain components, like emissions equipment.
The original warranty is often broken down into multiple sections, including:
Basic Warranty:
Typically covers everything except for parts that wear out through normal use of the vehicle. Examples of non-covered items are brake pads, wiper blades and filters.
Drivetrain Warranty:
This warranty covers items the basic warranty does not protect. Wear and tear items such as hoses will not be covered, but key items like the engine, transmission, drive axles and driveshaft often will be.
Roadside Assistance:
The level of service differs greatly with this warranty, but many manufacturers offer a toll-free number that helps provide assistance in case you run out of gas, get a flat tire or lock your keys in the car.
Corrosion Warranty:
This warranty focuses on protecting you from holes caused by rust or corrosion in your vehicle's sheet metal.
Please check the owner's manual, visit a local dealership or look at the manufacturer's website to learn more about the specifics of the warranties that apply to a vehicle.

Basic 3 Years/36,000 Miles
Drivetrain 5 Years/60,000 Miles
Corrosion 5 Years/Unlimited Miles

Toyota Certified Pre-Owned Warranty  help
Certified Pre-Owned Warranty
To be eligible for Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) status, vehicles generally must be recent models with relatively low mileage. CPO vehicles must also pass a detailed inspection, outlined by the manufacturer, which is measured by the number of inspected points.
Warranty coverage can vary from one manufacturer to the next. While most certified pre-owned programs transfer and extend the existing new car warranty terms, others offer a warranty that simply represents an additional year and mileage value. Always check with the manufacturer for the specific warranties they offer.
Common features and benefits of Certified Pre-Owned warranties include:
Age/Mileage Eligibility
To even be considered for certification, a car must be a recent model year and have limited mileage. The exact requirements are established by individual manufacturers.
Lease Term Certified
Some manufacturers offer certified pre-owned cars for lease. The length of the lease is often shorter than a new car lease, but it will cost you less.
Point Inspection
These inspections entail a comprehensive vehicle test to ensure that all parts are in excellent working order. The point inspection list is simply a numbered list of exactly what parts of the car are examined. While many inspections range from a 70- to 150-point checklist, most are very similar and are performed using strict guidelines. Ask your local dealer about specific details.
Return/Exchange Program
Some manufacturers offer a very limited return or exchange period. Find out if you will get the sales tax and licensing/registration fees back should you return or exchange the car.
Roadside Assistance
Most certified pre-owned programs offer free roadside service in case your car breaks down while still under warranty.
Special Financing
Reduced-rate loans are available through many certified pre-owned programs. Manufacturer-backed inspections and warranties help eliminate the risks involved with buying pre-owned, so buyers who qualify can take advantage of the great offers.
Transferable Warranty
When a new car warranty transfers with the certification of the car and remains eligible for the next owner, it is known as a transferable warranty. Once the original transferable warranty expires, an extended warranty takes effect.
Warranty Deductible
This is the amount for which you are responsible when repair work is performed under the warranty. Some manufacturers require a deductible while others don't, so always ask.

12-month/12,000-mile Comprehensive Warranty*

7-year/100,000-mile Limited Powertrain Warranty**

1-year of Roadside Assistance***

160-Point Quality Assurance Inspection

CARFAX® Vehicle History ReportTM****

Certified customers are eligible for standard new car financing rates*****

*Whichever comes first from date of Toyota Certified Used Vehicle purchase. The Comprehensive Warranty covers any repair or replacement of components which fail under normal use due to defect in materials or workmanship. (Program not available in Puerto Rico and Hawaii.)

**Whichever comes first from original date of first use when sold as new. See your Toyota Certified Used Vehicles dealer for warranty details. Program not available in Puerto Rico and Hawaii. For AL, FL, GA, NC & SC, warranty coverage differs in the following ways: 7-year or 100,000-mile Toyota Certified Limited Powertrain Warranty coverage begins on January 1st of the vehicle's model year and zero (0) odometer miles and expires at the earlier of seven years or 100,000 odometer miles.

***From date of Toyota Certified Used Vehicle purchase. Covers most services, including flat tires, lockout service, jump starts, fuel delivery up to 3 gallons and towing for mechanical breakdown or collision recovery to the nearest Toyota dealership. Services provided exclude any parts required. Coverage not available in Mexico. See Certified Warranty Supplement for warranty details.

****Beginning December 1, 2005 CARFAX® Vehicle History ReportsTM are a required part of every Toyota Certified Used Vehicle. See your local dealer for details.

*****Rates mentioned are for standard new car rates, and do not include new car specials or subvented rates. Not all buyers will qualify. Financing available through Toyota Financial Services for qualified buyers only.
Age/Mileage Eligibility 7 years / 85,000
Lease Term Certified Yes
Point Inspection All TCUV vehicles must pass a comprehensive checklist that includes a 160-point inspection. This way you can rest assured that your pre-owned Toyota is in perfect condition. To see full inspection list visit http://www.toyotacertified.com/inspection.html
Return/Exchange Program No
Roadside Assistance 1-year of Roadside Assistance from date of TCUV purchase.
Transferrable Warranty Yes
Warranty Deductible $50

Learn more about certified pre-owned vehicles

Printable Version

1998 Toyota Sienna Van

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