I had never been the minivan type mom, in fact the first time I drove the Toyota Sienna was at the Texas Truck Rodeo this past October. I liked what I saw and was excited to be able to test drive it this last week. The kids enjoyed it too, they each had space to call their own AND they were comfortable, that’s not always an easy order to fill. They love the configuration in the Toyota Sienna Limited, the second row had captain chairs that reclined; now, throw in a DVD player and it would suffice to say that they were not ready for me to turn in the keys at the end of week.
It was easy to see why the Toyota Sienna is one of the best-selling minivans. It provides space and functionality. That second row that I mentioned with the reclining seats…..slide on an elongated track so that if you need more room in the second row, simply slide back. Likewise if you need more room in the third row, slide forward. The third row is also capable of folding flat and completely stowing away, leaving you with 150 cubic feet of cargo space.
The center console has an easy to reach screen that places entertainment at your fingertips. It is 3 inches closer to the driver than the previous version and looks a lot more modern with a new gauge cluster and a larger display touch screen. My favorite app was the ‘Driver Easy Speak,’ with the push of a button you can access a nearby mic that will allow the kids in the third row seating to hear whatever you’re saying without feeling like you are having to yell. Pretty cool!
The climate control is right next to the gear shift and is easily adjustable. And just as you would expect in a minivan, the Toyota Sienna has ample storage space, with twin glove boxes, cup holders abounding, and side map pockets. It is one of the largest minivans money can buy, seating eight passengers.
The Toyota Sienna is the only minivan to offer all-wheel drive. What is the Sienna? Graceful, peppy, quiet, easy to park and maneuver. What is the Sienna not? It is definitely not a race car, but it does perform nicely. The Sienna has strong acceleration, as the only engine offered is the 3.5-liter V-6 with 266 hp. This 6 speed automatic reaches a cruising speed and sails along quite nicely.
In my opinion, Toyota is being modest when it comes to fuel economy. The 18 mpg/city and the 25 mpg/hwy sound pretty decent, but I was noting 20 mpg/city and 26 mpg/hwy. Not a huge difference but again, just enough to take note, and then smile when you do.
For 2015, Toyota has a variety of options, including navigation, or a DVD entertainment system. The DVD system has a wide 16.4-inch pair of screens and premium audio. It’s a pretty sweet package. Your kids will like it, you will love it!
Trim Options are L, LE, SE, XLE, and Limited.
The L model begins at $29,000 and includes a rearview camera, blind-spot monitors, automatic headlights, three rows of seating, the third row folds away, power windows, three zone a/c, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, remote keyless entry, and a touch screen audio system with auxiliary jack.
The LE model upgrades to an Entune audio system with a USB port and Bluetooth with audio streaming, power front seats, a power tailgate, power sliding doors (this alone would be worth the upgrade to me), sunshades for the rear windows, and phone/audio controls located on the steering wheel.
The SE has suspension tuning giving the Sienna a sporty model to choose from. Add 19-inch wheels, sport trim, leather steering wheel, and LED taillights.
The XLE model adds leather upholstery with heated front seats, and a sunroof.
The Limited model was the model that I test drove. This may have something to do with my being a minivan mom convert. (Insert smiley face). The Limited features dual sunroofs, an overhead console, second-row lounge seats that recline and slide, a third row that folds away with the push of a button and plenty of legroom, and a JBL audio system. The 2015 model however will no longer include lounge seats on all-wheel drive models.
Standard on all Toyota Siennas are power windows, locks, cruise control, CD player, and auxiliary jack, and three zone climate controls.
The 2015 has another benefit, the Sienna is rated to tow up to 3,500 pounds.
Standard safety features include back up cameras, side curtain airbags, a driver side knee airbag, and new for 2015, a front passenger seat cushion airbag. This brings the total of airbags to eight.
The Limited adds front and rear parking sensors. A pre-collision protection system is also offered on higher-level trims.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the Toyota Sienna a rating of five stars. The Institute for Highway Safety gave “good” ratings in all categories tested. The number of LATCH anchors for child booster seats has increased for a total of four positions in the Sienna.
The Toyota Sienna will make you a believer in minivans, just remember that not all minivans are created equal, the Sienna is the exception.
by Tabatha Moran Chovanetz