2000 Toyota Sienna LS 6 cylinder from North America
Looking for a reliable minivan? Move on
At 16,000 miles, white smoke appeared on startup. After taking it to the Toyota dealer, the oil had formed a "sludge", and the engine needed to be re-built.
Radio went out for no reason. Replaced under warranty.
Niggling complaints - rattles, squeaks, and unpleasant noises coming from all over the inside.
After my mediocre experience with a 1995 Dodge Caravan, I figured I would go for a vehicle from across the pond, because Toyotas supposedly have good reliability, and hold their resale value well.
As it turns out, the only thing I got by switching to an import van was a snotty dealer and perhaps one of the worst vehicles ever made. I'm not saying Domestics are superior, but this is a shining example that when it comes to cars, you can't stereotype.
OK, so onto the van. The dealer was your classic "let's haggle" slimebag. I knew that going in... Toyota dealers seem to have this cocky attitude, and my experience seemed to prove this theory correct. He would sell it to me for $2,000 over sticker, because they were in "high demand," and they only had "two left, and didn't know when they were getting more." After an hour of negotiation, I got the exact van I wanted, and got it for the actual sticker price.
The van itself was not too shabby. Seemed well built, minus the squeeks and rattles that appear on bumpy roads. The kids liked it well enough, except in the middle rear seat, where a nasty hinge kept prodding them in the rear. But as a 6 passenger hauler, the van worked quite well. It reminds me of a Camry in its driving manners. Fluid, but not fun. But hey, minivans and fun don't mix.
The first year of ownership was rather problem free, with the exception of a Radio that decided to stop working for no reason. But a little after 13 months of ownership, we noticed a huge white cloud of smoke upon startup. Yikes! So we took it to the Toyota Dealer, and he diagnosed the problem: the oil was forming a thick sludge in the engine, and had practically destroyed it.
And then Mr. Slimebag continued to inform me that this was caused by improper maintinence of the vehicle. As ready as I was to bite his head off, I marched out of there, and pulled up the receipts from each oil change (every 3,000 miles on the SPOT), each done by Jiffy Lube.
But once again Mr. Slimebag informed me that because I didn't pay the Toyota dealer's inflated prices for an Oil change (which were usually twice for me what they were at Jiffy Lube...) they would not fix the engine, and informed me that it was caused by the apparent inferior quality of Pennzoil.
After this I was furious. That night I researched this problem on the internet, and surprise surprise... it's a very common problem in Toyotas. After printing out documented reports on this, as well as a recently posted issue on Toyota's website addressing this, I marched into the dealer and told him he could either fix my engine, refund my money, or show up for court. I don't take this kind of crap, especially when my safety, and my kid's safety is at risk. Reluctantly, the dealer offered to rebuild the engine.
This has been nothing short of a horrible ownership experience. 2 weeks after the van was fixed we sold the van, and purchased a Ford Explorer.
Had the Sienna been a reliable minivan, I could care less if the dealer was dishonest. But if I'm stuck with a horrible piece of scrap metal, I am not the person to mess with. I certainly hope this is an isolated case, but I certainly have been burned off of Toyota for quite a long time ahead.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No
Review Date: 13th June, 2002
Just goes to show you, Toyota... just like all the other apparent stalwart bastions of apparent reliablity... have had to lower their standards to compete. No matter what kind of reviews come out now about Sienna, I will NEVER consider it.
I have a 2001 Sienna and have 33,000 miles on it. It is two years old, I have had Toyota dealer do a maintenace every 2500 miles (oil and oil filter change) I have not had any problems with this vehicle. I had to have the power door worked on, but that is all. My wife drives this vehicle and would not trade it for any other. I can only hope this remains the case.