2011 Toyota Sienna SE: Big Car Fatigue
October 11, 2011
How do people drive these things every day? After driving the Sienna around for about three days, I was searching for a Fiat 500 to jump into. Or at least a Civic. From the driver's seat, you know the Sienna is big. You know you can fit the wife, some kids, and some grandparents in for a couple of hours and everyone will have room to stretch out.
You only begin to understand just how big the Sienna and its ilk are when running to the bank to grab some cash, or making a quick-strike to Target, or threading a small strip-mall parking lot just to pick up some take-out. That's when the fatigue sets in. Just give me something small, with quick response and enough power.
Still love big cars, though. Love an old Chevy or Econoline van, or a Suburban with some years on it, powered by a big, thirsty V8. Big cars that are purpose-built for road trips, camping, weekends at the beach, and moving crap around. And minivans fit the bill. They're purpose-built to move people around. Handle weekend runs to hardware emporiums. But man, I don't want to drive one every day. Or rather, I don't want it as the only tool in the driveway.
Here's the part where readers either champion or debase wagons as the in-between solution. And while I like them, and would choose one over a sedan, they don't work for many people. This is when your mind starts building its dream garage of equal parts fantasy and practicality: a compact or midsize sedan for life's daily dramas, a van or SUV for moving around dogs and kids, and a 911 for flushing the blood.
Which leads to the next question: In this time of fashionable, and increasingly forced, austerity, just how many cars do we need?
Dan Frio, Automotive Editor