2003 Toyota Sienna XLE 3.0+ from North America


High priced car with a serious flaw


This is related to a test drive of a nicely loaded Toyota sienna XLE. First off, the dealer gave us the story of how they have a lot of the minivans in stock and no one else does. He also said that the MSRP was the price, no haggling. They wanted 37k for it, where the invoice from the net was 30k. So we drive it anyway. The shifter is conveniently located in the center of the dash where the radio normally is. I found a problem I think. There isn't a lockout button for moving the shifter. It is a weakly gated shifter (read zig zag) When in overdrive the shifter can be bumped into neutral very easily. I did a little test at extremely low speed, and bump the shifter. It slid all the way to park, locking up the transmission abruptly. I think this is a serious safety issue, and should be addressed.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 8th November, 2003

13th Nov 2003, 17:46

Shifter where the radio is? I think you tested a 2004, not a 2003.

16th Feb 2004, 09:37

The radio of the 2004 Sienna is near the top of the dash. The Dashboard mounted shifter is near the climate controls. So you tested a 2004 Sienna. Oh, which XLE model did you look at? XLE is around 30K. XLE Limited with some options is near 37K. Maybe he wasn't trying to rip you off. You can't complain about the bumping problem. We have a 2004 Sienna and a 1995 Camry. The Camry has a button lock for the transmission. I was driving up a hill when my son was changing the CD, his hand bumped the transmission and then the Camry went into Neutral. He didn't even hold the button, it just went up to neutral.

18th Mar 2004, 08:45

The gated shifter is a HUGE design flaw. I just recently was able to shift from drive to reverse by accident at speeds above 50 mph. The problem occurred when I was switching from 4th to 5th; I guess I flicked the shifter too hard and it wound up in reverse for a second. It didn't engage in reverse, but did make a huge Pop sound! The car still drives fine, but I wonder how much damage I really made to the transmission?

2003 Toyota Sienna CE ? from North America


The best choice for a minivan..


The sliding doors are starting to rattle. I believe it is from the plastic molding on the doors rather than the jamb.

I have noticed that the 2003 Sienna "sways" on the interstate when approaching 70mph. I am thinking it to be the tires as our 2000 handled well and the vehicle has not changed much. The tires are different.

General Comments:

My wife was in an accident with our 2000 Sienna that we purchased used. We really liked the van. We purchased a 2003 when the new 04's were just arriving. The deal on the 03 was just too good to pass up. Knowing what we were getting, we were pleased with the deal (I wish I put a little more $$ on an 04).

I looked at the Kia Sedona as well. The Kia looks nice!!! The five star ***** safety test impressed me as well!) It seems that the rating (consumer) for the Kia is average, I was not going to take a chance. They offered me thousands less, better warranty, free oil changes and tires for the life of the vehicle. Still, I had to go with Toyota. Am I crazy?

My first car was an 89 Tercel. My second was a pickup (can't remember the year, but it was the last year it was built in Japan!).

I am certain if the accident did not happen we would still be in the 2000 Sienna. It did not have the problems (minor) that our new one does. Still, we are very pleased with our 03 Sienna.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 5th September, 2003

2003 Toyota Sienna CE 3.0L from North America


Not a good vehicle


I've had trouble with both of the sliding doors (non-power operated ones) as the button you push from the inside to open the doors sticks making them useless. Now I have to carry a bottle of WD-40 with me when I have passengers.

The check engine light has also come on a couple times and the key no longer works to open the hatch.

Considering the van has only been dealer serviced and has such low mileage it's been a very poor vehicle indeed.

General Comments:

Overall, I am disappointed with the van. In my opinion Toyota has begun to use poor quality parts.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 14th June, 2003

7th Jul 2003, 07:54

Not to add to your worries, but the Sienna has had problems with engine sludge. I mention this because one of the symptoms is illumination of the check engine light. This light can indicate a number of problems, some serious some not, so it is important to get this checked. Other signs of sludge are smoke in the exhaust and using high amounts of oil. Toyota is supposed to remove the valve cover and check for sludge if you have any one of these symptoms.

25th Jul 2003, 09:57

Toyota is still trying to attribute these problems to lack of maintenance so that they can get out of the sludge policy. Besides, the 2003 is not even covered under the policy. If you get them to pull the valve cover, be sure to be there when it happens so you can view for yourself the condition of the engine. If it is sludge, you will know it from the black goo coating your engine. Take photos. Demand to have the engine replaced and to have your warranty to extend 8 years from installment of the new engine, like the sludge policy provides for owners of 1997 - 2002 Siennas.