2011 Toyota Sienna SE: Better Than Odyssey?
July 19, 2011
Back in March I road tripped with the family in our long-term 2011 Honda Odyssey Touring. Destination: Mammoth Lakes, CA. Last week I road tripped with the family in our long-term 2011 Toyota Sienna SE. Destination: Big Bear Lake, CA.
Two lakes. Two vans. And so the question is: Which is best?
If this were a generation of vans ago I'd be voting Odyssey all the way. But now this is a tough decision. This new Sienna in SE trim is very likable. In fact, there are a few things about the Sienna I prefer.
1) Steering. I prefer the heft and on-center feel of the Sienna's steering. On the highway it just feels more locked in.
2) Suspension tuning. The Sienna SE has no wasted body motions. None. Zero. Zilch.
3) Driver's seat. On road trips I'm more comfortable in the Toyota. I think the bottom seat cushion is longer and it works better for me.
4) Shifter. It's gated. Has a manual gate. And I love the fact that you downshift the van from 6th to 4th gear just by moving the shifter over into the manual gate.
Still, I'd buy the Odyssey. Why? Well, because there are two very important things I prefer about the Honda. The inside and the outside. Lets face it, the Toyota is hidiously ugly inside and out. And the Honda isn't.
I also find it extremely frustrating that the Sienna SE's low hanging bodykit scrapes itself up on every curb and driveway like this is some low slung sports car. If I was making payments on this thing and it was collecting road rash at this rapid pace I would not be happy.
Meanwhile, the Honda's steering, suspension tuning, driver's seat and shifter aren't so inferior to the Toyota's that they are deal breakers for me. And honestly, anything else I can think of on these two vans is basically a wash.
But the Toyota's design is a deal breaker from where I sit. Too bad. It's a nice driving van that has treated my family and our staff very well.
By the way, I also prefer Big Bear.
Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief @ 15,027