For 2006, the Toyota Sienna minivan receives numerous upgrades. All models are equipped with standard front seat, side seat and side curtain airbags in all three rows; there’s a new bumper with revised grille, headlamps, rear lamps and body side moulding; the base sound system is MP3 capable and equipped with an auxiliary input for MP3 devices; an optional DVD rear seat entertainment system is available on all models; a standard roof rack is added to the base CE; new power folding mirrors with memory, integrated turn signals, puddle lamps and driver’s seat position memory are optional on XLE FWD and standard on XLE AWD; all LE and XLE models are equipped with Optitron instrumentation; and the wiper sweep area has been increased front and rear.

The Sienna comes in a variety of configurations, starting with front- or all-wheel-drive (and it’s the real thing, turning all four wheels all the time). In FWD, it’s available as the CE, in seven- or eight-passenger seating; the LE, in seven- or eight-passenger; and the XLE, in seven-passenger only. AWD models are seven-passenger only, in CE, LE or XLE trim levels. All models use a 3.3-litre V6 hooked to a five-speed automatic transmission; traction and stability control are standard on the FWD XLE model, and on all AWD models.

The base CE model includes CD/MP3 player with six speakers and wheel-mounted controls, dual air conditioning, cloth seats, power locks, power front windows and middle-row windows, floor mats, cruise control, keyless entry, 16-inch steel wheels, side window defoggers, swing-out rear windows, heated mirrors, variable intermittent wipers, intermittent rear washer/wiper, and LED taillamps.

The LE adds premium fabric seat material, power driver’s seat, outside temperature gauge, compass, overhead console box, integrated garage door opener, dual power sliding doors, 16-inch alloy wheels and fog lamps.

The XLE adds upgraded stereo with ten speakers, tri-zone automatic climate control, leather interior with heated front seats, power passenger seat, auto-dimming rearview mirror, 115-volt power outlet, sunshades, power rear hatch, anti-theft system, 17-inch alloy wheels and power sunroof.

The Sienna is among the largest of minivans; it’s smooth and quiet, and very well finished inside. It lacks DaimlerChrysler’s superb Stow ’n Go seating configuration, but that’s about all. GM’s extended minivans are slightly longer, but don’t make as good use of their room and lack Toyota’s interior quality; the Ford Freestar is relatively cramped inside and doesn’t measure up in performance. In quality and features, it’s pretty much neck and neck with the Honda Odyssey; between the two, it’ll come down to brand preference, and whether or not you want all-wheel-drive.

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