2011 Toyota Sienna SE: Angle Of Reproach
October 07, 2011
This isn't the first time our 2011 Toyota Sienna SE got into a fight with a driveway...and lost. This time it happened at City Park in Corona, California, a place the Sienna and I had never been.
I was pulling into the 6th street parking lot, where I failed to see a steeper-than-usual driveway lurking in the deep shade as I rushed to complete my left turn before oncoming traffic bore down on me.
The noise was not pretty. Neither was the resulting scar on the front bumper.
Not only did it suffer the unsightly wound shown above, the rearmost front bumper clips near the front tire well popped loose as the ragged asphalt tried to bend the bumper under the car. Those popped back in easy enough with no ill effects, but you'll have to take my word for it as my camera battery chose that moment to die.
Our SE rides lower on its sport-tuned suspension than other Siennas (10 mm, I think). It also wears a deeper, more aggressively-styled front spoiler, particularly at the outside corners. Either factor worsens the Angle of Approach on its own; together they're a double-whammy.
And the SE's lowness and sporty bumper treatment are not restricted to the front...
The story is much the same at the rear, where the SE's Angle of Departure is also slightly less favorable than that of an LE or XLE. Here our Sienna's rear bumper also made friends with the asphalt, but the resulting scuff is much more benign, much harder to notice.
Yeah, this was a big one, and I should have seen it coming. But even if I had tiptoed through or angled across more, this driveway was steep enough that our SE would have grounded out anyway. The only surefire avoidance maneuver may have been to use a different park entrance from another street.
A normal LE or XLE Sienna might not have suffered the same fate, but it's hard to know -- this was a steep driveway that appeared to date back to the 1930's, back when cars had zero front overhang.
As for the repair, we'll hold off fix the damage at the end in case we accumulate some more. This wasn't the first time and it may not be the last.
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing