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Old 09-16-2011, 11:13 AM
2,186 posts, read 8,512,652 times


2004 Toyota Sienna LE

Rating: 4 out of 5
  • Currently 4.0/5.0

When initially researching what minivan to purchase for my expanding family, the most important factors to my decision were safety, reliability, price, and performance. After completing an exhaustive review of all competing minivans on the market in 2004, I choose to purchase a new 2004 Toyota Sienna LE. Consumer Report magazine named this model the highest ranked minivan in 2004 for safety, reliability, and performance. With a few exceptions, this minivan has been an excellent purchase.

I purposefully waited to purchase the 2004 Sienna because this was the first year the updated, sportier body style became available. I purchased my Sienna new from a Toyota dealer and paid $22,500. This was less expensive than the comparable Honda $25,500 minivan, but more expensive than the $19,000 Kia minivan. However, I believe that the Sienna was the best value in the class.

My minivan has a total of four captain's chairs, two in the front and two in the middle. One feature I was particularly attracted to was the ability to move the two middle chairs around in different configurations. So, if my children are bickering on a long trip, I can move the chairs apart. The chairs can also be combined to create one bench seat.

There is another option where you can have an additional seat mount added directly behind the two front chairs. This extra seat mount can be used for an infant car seat only. In hind sight, I wish we had spent the extra $400 to purchase this option. All of the five seats in the back portion of the Sienna also have the Latch system installed for children's car seats.

The back row provides ample seating for three adults, and it also folds flat for additional rear storage. In addition, the back and middle rows of seats can be completely lifted out so that the minivan can be used for hauling large items. I have been able to move several pieces of furniture using this method, including a large armoire.

There are 15 cup holders throughout the car and several convenient cubbies to stash toys or CD's. I also like the pop-up table that rests between the driver's seat and the front passenger-side seat. It is convenient for holding DVD's or other items that you need to have close at hand.

The 2004 Sienna has been exceptionally reliable, and I have had no major issues with either the reliability or performance of this vehicle. Except for replacing the braking system at the regularly-suggested interval, the only other maintenance that has been necessary is regular oil changes. My gas tank holds 20 gallons of gas, and I am usually able to drive about 520 miles on the highway, or 400 miles in the city, in between refueling sessions. The gas mileage is excellent compared with other vehicles of similar size.

This car was recalled for issues concerning the rear tailgate not staying open, and our Sienna did develop this issue. However, Toyota replaced the worn struts on our tailgate free of charge, and the dealer informed us that it was a free repair for this make and model Sienna.

The LE model is a barebones, no-frills minivan. The doors do not open automatically, and it takes a bit of strength to heft the sliding right-side door completely shut. My eight-year-old is still not able to shut the door correctly. The XLE model comes with automatic sliding doors standard, so if this is an issue, make sure you purchase the more expensive model. In addition, the LE does not come with a DVD system. I was able to purchase an inexpensive DVD system that plugs into the cigarette lighter, but a DVD system does come standard in the XLE model.

Overall, I have been pleased with my purchase of the 2004 Toyota Sienna, and I would recommend this model to families with small children. It transports our family of six comfortably, and I expect to continue driving this minivan for many years to come.

A.K. Taylor

Review by professional reviewer, Aug. 25, 2011
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