Which Toyota Sienna? looking for a good minivan

hi all

first post: i need a minivan! it will be used for small cartage needs, family roadtrips, and camping

i live in outer NYC and am not a commuter. i can’t stand driving on the east coast! but i need to be able to get out of town sometimes this summer, and also need to be able to drum up some extra work as a guy with a van in these bad financial times

i like what i’ve seen and heard about the Siennas. i was hoping to find one where all the rear seats fold into the floor, but it seems like only the 3rd seats do that…?

anyways i thought i’d ask if you had recommendations (or horror stories!) about the various generations, and specific years/models. or if you would recommend a different van

i’m cheap! honestly am hoping to spend less than $3000. can do some maintenance & simple repair work myself, but will pay a mechanic for serious work. i could be convinced to spend more on a better car, but i am assuming there would be some work to pay for upon purchase. i don’t mind old cars… as long as the thing works and the stereo is good :wink:

thanks much

These days asking for dependable vehicle for 3000.00 is dreaming. What kind of work do you think you can get just because you have a van ?
Also at that price what other years have had is irreverent because the problems may have been fixed and the vehicle might develop some new ones .

For $3000 you’re probably looking at a decrepit old Sienna that’s got a ton of miles, serious rust and it’s probably WAY overdue for a timing belt

I don’t know if you care about fuel economy, but I’ll say this . . . those older Toyotas with V-6 don’t get very good fuel economy at all

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My 1999 Sienna is over 300k, and got 25mpg on a recent 3500 mile road trip. The rear seats come right out, so you have the entire space available when needed. I’ve built a custom platform with drawers instead, which works for road trips and camping, as well as a good work / tools rig.

When I bought it 4 1/2 years ago, it was a big risk, but the price was $1000 cheaper than any other Sienna around. That was because the odometer was non functional, and there was no service history. But the body was straight, paint good enough, and interior only dirty, not ripped. After I bought it, my mechanic determined that the transmission and radiator had been replaced fairly recently, and eventually he discovered that the timing belt was also relatively new. Recently, when talking to a dealer admin person, she found the mileage from dealer service records was about 275K in 2014, about a year before I bought it. Evidently the first owner had it for 15 years and serviced it at the local dealership. I’ve since replaced the cluster, I’ve added around 35k miles, so it’s over 300k.

The worst thing I can say about the Sienna is that door handles are poor, I’ve replaced several. Big deal. That’s a nuisance, but user serviceable. Other than that, I’m very happy with it. It’s needed little more than some front end work, those door handles, and soon I’ll do complete front brakes and struts, which is expected on any car.

All that for $1400. Like I said, my gamble worked out. I hope you do as well. But do consider the rust issue. In CA, that’s not a factor but will be for NY.

Only Chrysler and Dodge minivans have middle row seats that fold into the floor. Many others have 3rd row only, and the middle seats can be heavy. They typically do come out. IIRC, the Hyundai and Kia middle rows fold forward agains the front seats.