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No more exciting than a toaster, but comes close to being the perfect minivan appliance.
Camry genes, excellent crash-test ratings, refined powertrain, optional stability control system, available side airbags.
Dull styling, small size, lacks optimal utility.
Available Sienna Minivan Models
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Nothing major is in store for Toyota's minivan this year. The most significant change is the availability of a new "Symphony" special edition for LE models. This special edition includes items like keyless entry, a roof rack, captain's chairs for the first two rows (six-way power driver seat), a premium JBL audio system, power swing privacy glass, color-keyed heated power side mirrors, an overhead console with HomeLink and painted bumpers and cladding. There's also a new color this year exclusive to the Symphony: Lunar Mist Metallic. The base CE model's Extra Value package now includes a roof rack and keyless entry for no extra cost.
Despite the fact that it's five model years old and doesn't offer as much utility and functionality as newer competitors, the Toyota Sienna is one of the top choices in the minivan class. With the Sienna, Toyota has placed an emphasis on safety, quality and performance.
There are three models: the base CE, the mid-level LE and the top-level XLE. All come standard with five doors. Under the hood is a smooth, powerful and refined 3.0-liter V6 mated to a four-speed automatic transmission that drives the front wheels. This powertrain setup can also be found in the Toyota Camry, fitting since the Sienna is built on a stretched and modified Camry platform. In the Sienna, the engine produces 210 horsepower and 220 pound-feet of torque.
The Sienna's rigid and lightweight unitized body performed exceptionally well in government crash tests. Standard safety features include ABS, front seatbelts with pre-tensioners and force limiters, front height-adjustable seatbelt anchors, a low tire-pressure warning system and daytime running lights. Every Sienna can also be ordered with optional side airbags and a stability control system that helps prevent dangerous skids and spins.
The Sienna driving experience is similar to the Camry in that it's pleasantly non-confrontational. Steering is sure, if not quite nimble. The suspension does a good job of soaking up road imperfections, and wind noise is kept to a minimum. Braking is exceptionally competent. Acceleration from the V6 is acceptable for almost all situations, and the cabin is quiet at highway speeds.
The Sienna was designed to offer optimum interior roominess in a compact, easy-to-maneuver package. The interior has a definite Camry feel to it, constructed and trimmed in high-quality materials. Dual power doors are optional, and removable modular seating allows for custom configurations to accommodate a variety of cargo requirements. A second-row bench seat or captain's chairs and third-row seats can be folded or removed to accommodate bulkier cargo. Third-row seats also add a 50/50 split-folding and tumble feature for additional cargo space, but can't match many competitors for overall user-friendliness. What the Sienna needs to remain competitive in the class is a third-row seat that folds flat into the floor like newer models from Honda and Mazda. More comfortable front seats would help, too, as the current chairs are firm yet unsupportive and don't offer a wide enough range of adjustment.
Overall, Toyota does not make the biggest or most useful minivan, but it does make a reliable, safe, well-performing and refined alternative to a number of family haulers on the market.
Laura's old car was costing her a small fortune every month for gas and repairs. She didn't even want to drive her kids to the park any more. But buying a new Kia Soul changed all that.