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Is the Gen 1 Sienna the right vehicle for me ?

namenloser22namenloser22 Posts: 2
edited August 2016 in Toyota

I am new to the US American car market. In Germany (where I am from) I am driving a 88 230E and a 91 250TD Mercedes. For the next year I am studying in SC and now I am looking for a car.
After quite a bit of research I think the Gen 1 Sienna might be fitting my needs. I don’t need the car for daily commuting since I am living very close to the campus. What I am looking for in the Sienna is:
- A good long distance cruiser who isn’t upset by some runs to shopping malls
- A reliable car, which can be fixed at most repair shops
- A car which fits a 6 foot 6 tall driver
- Decent gas mileage
- A car in which I can camp on longer road trips
The last point is very important for me.
In Europe I am used to camp in in my Mercedes Wagon, although the roof is quite low I can sleep in it. During my stay in the US I am planning some longer road trips and it would be great if I could camp the trunk.
During my recherché I stumbled along those cars:
E300 Mercedes Wagon (first or second gen)
Need premium gas
Are not known for reliability in the US (in Germany we say they are unbreakable which I can proof by my own experience as long as you service them often)
Very hard to find
If something breaks really expensive to fix
Honda Odyssey
Bigger then Sienna
Better availability
Big problems with the transmission?
Needs more fuel?
Chrysler Town and Country
Bigger then Sienna
Needs more fuel
Not as reliable
What I really like about the Gen 1 Sienna is that it is based on a Camry. During my studies in New Zealand I owned a 93 Toyota Prominent (Which is basically a beefed up Camry) and I loved the car.
What I am not sure about is, I have read about problems with the engine of the Sienna. How are they affecting the daily life with the Van?
My budget is about 5000 USD (but it would be great if I could stay under the budget so that I have more money for travelling ). I am going to rent a car for the first week, so I am looking for a car of which are many on the market.

Greetings from munich


  • steverstever Posts: 52,462
    Not a lot of money to work with.

    I've been "camping" out of a minivan for decades (including a year-long road trip in a Quest). But I never once slept in the van. If you plan to "camp" free in a Walmart parking lot (permitted in most areas), that's one thing. But we always found it easier to find a nice camp site and flop up a tent. Campsites are a bit different in the US - the sites aren't stacked up right against each other, and we often camp in the national forests where you can camp in the middle of nowhere.

    If you went the tent route, you could expand you search to sedans or hatchbacks or whatever you fit in. And a smaller ride would be easier to park and better on gas.

    Our road-tripping Quest died two years ago. We replaced it with a high mileage 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan. It has Stow and Go seats that disappear in the floor, so you could put a big mattress in there. We now have, er, 258,000 km on it and haven't done anything to it other than maintenance.

    So I wouldn't rule a Chrysler out. They are cheaper to buy used, and if you do break down, there are more dealers around than the other brands (that was a big issue with the Nissan Quest out in the boonies).
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    For $5000, you will be restricted to higher mileage vehicles in the van category. In this case, you really have little choice but to choose a Japanese brand in my opinion. If you buy a small hatchback and use a tent, you might find a better vehicle, have more choices, and more privacy when you camp out.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 26,119
    I suggest looking at a Mazda5 or last gen Mazda MPV. Both are quite a bit cheaper in the van category. They are smaller, yes, but certainly roomier than a Benz wagon.

    '10 Equinox LS; '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '14 Town&Country Limited; '18 BMW X2. 49-car history and counting!

  • The problem with the Tent Camping idea is, that I am not a fan of tents :D . I sleeping really bad in tents, but in cars it is no problem.

    So I'd perfer buying a van over a normal car + tent.
    @qbrozen Do you think a MPV is a better choice then a Sienna ?
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 26,119
    It is a less expensive choice. If you focus on the '02 and up models, you get the Duratec V6, which is a pretty good engine. It would be difficult, of course, finding a low mileage example. But you could spend as little as $2500-$3k on a good one. If you want something newer and more efficient, the Mazda5 really wouldn't cost much more than that.

    Just through a quick search, here are the lowest mileage examples I found of each.


    '10 Equinox LS; '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '14 Town&Country Limited; '18 BMW X2. 49-car history and counting!

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