Minivans have always been superior as people movers. They're easier to park and drive than SUVs, have a low step-in height for easy access, plus comfortable seating and cushy ride characteristics.
The 2011 Toyota Sienna, now in its fifth generation, has been designed for those reasons since the beginning. But for 2011, as transportation needs change, so does the Sienna.
The all-new 2011 Sienna is still very much a transportation solution for moving up to eight people. But it is now more versatile, with more flexible interior configurations, and available in a broader range of models. There are models aimed at practical transportation, models driven by luxury tastes, and even a sport model, the SE, that drives and handles more like a sports sedan.
Interior seating arrangements have been completely redesigned and can now be re-arranged more easily to carry passengers, haul cargo, or any mix of both.
Visually, the 2011 Sienna looks less like a minivan than previous generations, with lower, longer lines, and a wider stance. Toyota designers have altered the profile and stance to make the Sienna more appealing. The 2011 Sienna is based on the same platform as the prior generation, with the same wheelbase, but it has more interior room.
The 2011 Sienna is available in five grades, with seating configurations for seven or eight. Sienna is available with the 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine; higher grades are all V6-powered. Front-wheel drive is standard. All-wheel drive is available with the V6.
We found the four-cylinder a good choice. It gets a couple miles to the gallon better fuel economy and works nearly as well for everyday driving. The Sienna SE handles quite well and will be appreciated by more aggressive drivers. The SE sits lower, on a sport-tuned suspension and steering system for quicker feedback and better handling. At the other end of the spectrum is the Limited model, which glides along nice and easy, and it has steering assist that makes it easier to park.
The Toyota Sienna is made in America, designed in California, developed at Toyota's technical center in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and assembled in Indiana. It will be sold only in North America and Puerto Rico.
The 2011 Toyota Sienna ($24,260) comes standard with cloth upholstery, tri-zone manual air conditioning with air filter and rear-seat control panel, seven-passenger seating, power windows with auto up/down and jam protection in all positions, 60/40 split and stow third-row seat with one motion stow, removable second row seats with tip-up and long-slide feature, cruise control, windshield de-icer, integrated color-keyed rear spoiler, AM/FM/CD with four speakers, 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels with 235/60R17 tires. Sienna is also available with a V6 ($25,500).
Sienna LE ($25,345) upgrades with eight-way adjustable driver's seat with lumbar support, third-row sunshade, six-speaker audio, XM Satellite Radio, steering wheel controls for audio and telephone, Bluetooth for hands-free cell phone operation, compass and outside temperature displays, dual power sliding doors, HomeLink garage door opener. Sienna LE V6 ($28,900) is similarly equipped. LE AWD V6 ($30,550) adds all-wheel drive, 18-inch wheels with 235/55R18 tires.
Sienna XLE V6 ($32,175) and XLE AWD V6 ($34,515) upgrade with leather upholstery, automatic air conditioning, power liftgate, power moonroof, heated front seats, anti-theft system, leather-wrapped steering wheel, wood trim, towing package, power rear quarter windows.
Sienna Limited V6 ($38,500) and Limited AWD V6 ($39,770) get upgraded 6CD JBL audio with 10-speakers, overhead consoles, integrated antenna, chrome door handles, push-button start, smart key, deluxe mirrors, dual panel moonroof, sonar parking system, second-row captain's chairs, third-row power seats stow in floor, memory for driver's seat, four-way power front-passenger seat, leather with wood steering wheel, 18-inch wheels with 235/55R18 tires.
Sienna SE ($30,550) features special body trim, 19-inch alloy wheels, and it comes with exclusive instrumentation and unique interior colors and trim.
Options include navigation and a rear-seat entertainment system.
Safety features include Toyota's Star Safety System with anti-lock brakes (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist, Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), and Traction Control; the mandated tire pressure monitor system; three-point seatbelts in all seating positions with adjustable seatbelt anchors on front and second row seats, driver's seatbelt Emergency Locking Retractor (ELR), and Automatic Locking Retractors (ALR) on all other seatbelts; front seatbelts with pretensioners and force limiters; driver and front passenger Active Headrests; driver and front passenger airbags with Advanced Airbag System; driver and front passenger seat-mounted side airbags; driver knee airbag; three-row side curtain airbags; side impact beams in front and sliding side doors; LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children); child protector sliding door locks; jam protection for power windows. Optional all-wheel drive enhances safety in adverse conditions. The Pre-Collision System is optional with Dynamic Radar Cruise Control. Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management System (VDIM), Hill Assist Control (HAC), Safety Connect, and front and rear sonar are optional or included on premium models. All of this stuff is a very good idea.
All prices are Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Prices (MSRP), which may change without notice at any time. Prices do not include destination charges.