2011 Toyota Sienna: Rock the SE, Not An SUV
March 23, 2011
When Toyota first started its "Swagger Wagon" campaign for the new Sienna, a friend emailed me a link to the initial video, saying "This is so you!" True, there was a passing semblance between the actors and me and my wife. And we have a kid. But a minivan family, really? My wife has told me many times she'll never drive one, and I own a Corvette. I didn't see it.
But now I've spent about two weeks driving our Toyota Sienna. And things are different. Swagger, not really. But appreciation, yes.
Mostly, this was the first "quality time" I've had with a minivan since joining the parent club. I became more attune to certain qualities. First of all, power sliding rear doors rock. Hands full? Just push a button on the fob or make a quick yank on the outer handle for automatic operation. Getting in and out (and getting little kids in and out of child safety seats) is easy, and the sliding door means no dinging other cars' doors in parking lots. The low-step in height is also nice. (Noticing a trend here? Once you have kids, it's all about making your life easier, because the rest of parenting is irrevocably hard.)
The Sienna also hooks you up with plenty of interior storage, three rows of seating and massive cargo space for all the stuff you'll be eventually carrying. There's also very good outward visibility -- my daughter likes it because she can see more when riding in back. And while the Sienna has exterior measurements similar to a full-size SUV or crossover, it just drives more fluidly and nimbly than either one.
Yeah, I have to say the idea of "rocking the SE, not an SUV" is pretty appealing. If it came to the point where I had a buy a new family hauler, it'd be a tough choice. I still really like the Ford Flex. For one, I just like the way it looks, and two, you can get it with the turbo V6. But I also think I'd be very pleased with a Sienna.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor