In late 1997, Toyota launched the front wheel drive MY 1998 Sienna in the North American market as a replacement for the mid-engined Previa.
The reputation of this generation was marred by a class-action settlement for an engine oil sludge problem which affected the V-6 engines in many Toyota models.Symptoms of the problem include oil smoke in the exhaust, oil quickly becoming dark or black after an oil change, gasoline odor in the oil, high oil consumption, and eventually engine failure.New styling allowed for a drag coefficient of C=0.30.EPA Fuel economy was 17 city/25 highway, 16 city/22 highway for AWD. The Sienna came standard with anti-lock braking, brake assist, electronic brakeforce distribution, traction control and a tire-pressure monitoring system.Built on an extended platform of the Toyota Camry, the Sienna was appropriately marketed as the "Camry of minivans," capitalizing on the Camry's popularity and reputation.
It is named for the Italian city of Siena, in the region of Tuscany. The LE and XLE models were equipped with 2nd row captain's chairs while the CE models came equipped with a 2nd row 2-passenger bench seat.
Trim levels, in order of increasing standard and available features were: CE, LE, and XLE, and XLE Limited (renamed Limited in later years).
The most distinguishable difference on the XLE Limited model was the horizontal chrome bar placed above the rear license plate.
The XLE models offered leather seats and a wood trim package.
The Sienna also touted best-in-class fuel economy of 16 city/22 highway miles per gallon. A year after its release, the Sienna faced new competition from the redesigned Honda Odyssey minivan, which was larger and offered a V6 like the Sienna.
All 2004–2007 Siennas had a factory tow package (hitch kit and trailer lighting connections not included) and a 3,500 pounds (1,600 kg) towing capacity.