We weren't overjoyed about the Millenia S's base price, a robust $3,600 more than the Miller-cycle equipped Millenia cost when launched as a '95 model. A testimony to the still-strengthening yen, yes, but the Millenia S at least still looks to be a decent value once the standard-equipment list is scrutinized: dual air bags, antilock brakes, full-speed traction control, leather-trimmed upholstery, power windows, seats, mirrors, locks and moonroof and a thumping Bose AM/FM/cassette/ CD-changer stereo.

And of course, the innovative Miller-cycle engine. To once again recount the Miller-cycle's workings, the 2.3L V-6 delays closing of each cylinder's intake valve until 70 degrees after bottom dead center on the cylinder's compression stroke. The resultant "shorter" stroke means the Miller-cycle doesn't have to work nearly as hard to overcome its own functional and pumping forces as it compresses the intake mixture. After the intake mixture is ignited, a conventional full expansion stroke is retained.

To aid in the complete filling of each cylinder, a screw-type Lysholm supercharger -- with intercooler -- packs in a denser intake mixture and provides more power than expected from an engine of such diminutive displacement. A slight, almost comforting whistle from the Lysholm compressor is the only occasional evidence of the Miller-cycle engine's rather exclusive hardware.

What is pronounced is the Miller's horsepower -- 210 at 5,300 rpm -- and acceleration for the 3,400-odd lbs. (1,543 kg) Millenia that's clearly at odds with the engine capacity (see chart). Also helping is the generous 210 ft.-lbs. (285 Nm) dose of torque that peaks at a purposeful 3,500 rpm.

The independent agency tha performance-tested the Millenia believes the Millenia's "numbers" are somewhat misleading, saying that a large degree of "torque management" from its traction-control and engine/transmission systems conspire to produce soft acceleration times.