Thursday, September 2, 2010
With New Sienna, Toyota Makes the Minivan Kinda Cool
The 2011 Toyota Sienna is still a minivan, make no mistake about it.
But its remodeled styling, new four-cylinder engine and better gas mileage make the Sienna more attractive than ever, even to many folks who aren't big minivan fans.
The first thing you notice about the new Sienna is its updated appearance.
No longer does it loudly scream "Soccer Mommobile."
Instead, it just looks like a cool vehicle that you can tote your family and friends around in.
Toyota says the look is inspired by the styling of its Camry sedan and Venza crossover.
You might not necessarily think of those vehicles as being at the cutting edge of style, but by minivan standards, this is haute couture.
Check out the dramatic side paneling and the tapered hood. There are three really neat grille designs, one with chrome blades, one with black blades and one with black mesh.
A rooftop spoiler is standard, and the middle trim level has sporty-looking clear taillights and 19-inch wheels.
The interior features captain's chairs in the second row, and you can opt for a middle seat that also can be tucked away in the rear cargo area when not in use. Those seats slide fore and aft.
The third row is a 60/40 bench that can fold into the floor if you need extra storage space.
Toyota says the new model is a bit shorter than the previous version, but is wider.
All in all, you'll likely find that the space allocation is very efficient, offering roominess for passengers and cargo.
It might seem a little strange to characterize the engine of a minivan as peppy, but that's exactly what it is in the Sienna.
There is a 2.7-liter four-cylinder that makes 187 horsepower and gets 19 mpg city, 24 highway.
There is also a 3.5-liter V-6 that makes 266 ponies and gets 16 mpg city, 22 highway.
The Sienna features five trim levels: base, LE, sport-tuned SE, XLE and Limited.
For convenience, you can get a keyless access system with push-button start, power liftgate and power sliding doors.
You'll be transporting the family safely in the Sienna, also, since it has seat-mounted front and side curtain airbags. And Toyota says the Pre-Collision System can sense when a wreck is about to happen, alert the driver, tighten the seat belts and apply the brakes.
The Sienna ranges in price from around $25,000 to roughly $40,000.
Toyota has found a whole new realm for the minivan, and it's much hipper than before.