2011 Toyota Sienna SE: Bonding With the Bus
July 05, 2011
When the sign-out sheet came around on Thursday, I initialed for the Sienna, really only planning to need it Friday afternoon. With the Wife and Kid enjoying daily rain and wilting humidity in Japan, I didn't need a soccer bus for the weekend. The whole fish-and-a-bicycle thing. As it turned out, the holiday weekend became a great chance to bro down with the Sienna. Chirp the tires and make the Swagger Wagon one of the fellas. It came through spectacularly.
It hauled boards to the beach, no need to hassle with racks, and left plenty of room for backpacks, wetsuits, coffee cups and maple bars. It transported five hungry dudes in business-class comfort after someone made an inspired suggestion for Fiesta Grill fish tacos. It hung on the Fiat 500's tail as Doug Newcomb whipped the latter up Topanga Canyon to fetch his board. I didn't remember the Sienna being as flat and composed, nor hanging onto the right gears, as it was while it climbed the twisty grade.
And to prove we don't doom the Sienna solely to a life as moving van and furniture mule, we had it carry a 12-pack of Red Stripe over to where the band jams, man. With strong sun, temps in the high 80s and 80 percent humidity, the weekend was made for fish tacos and Jamaican lager (as Takahashi can attest about the latter anyway).
The Sienna didn't particularly stand out when I drove it during Edmunds' minivan comparison several months ago. I liked the Quest best for its fold-flat second row, seamless CVT and deep reservoir of Nissan power. But I may have short-changed the Sienna. I'm still not digging the way the second-row seats slide and fold; seems like it creates too much wasted space. But there's plenty of motor, and the smooth-shifting transmission responds quickly to throttle input, whether creeping behind another bumper or hauling at open freeway speed. The Sienna just does the job.
Now it just needs some DVD so we can watch Bruce Lee films en route to the next Pacquiao fight.
Dan Frio, Automotive Editor