2011 Toyota Sienna: Why I Didn't Use It
December 12, 2011
Please excuse the crappy picture, but our recent RTI ramp construction project provided me with an opportunity to explain why I am unlikely to trade in my 2004 Honda Odyssey for a 2011 Toyota Sienna.
It's the center console, or, in my car's case, the lack of one. Instead I have a fold down tea tray between the front seats. It holds drinks when I want and gets itself the heck out of the way when I need the space for something else. At some point since we've owned it my wife improvised a console storage compartment by sliding a wicker basket underneath for things like pens, cell phone power cords and CDs.
EDIT: I had previously painted the 2011 Honda Odyssey with the same Sienna brush, but it turns out that EX models and above have a removable front console that I hadn't previously played with. That's great, but, like the middle-middle seat, there's still a question of where to put it when you take it out. But at least you can take it out.
Getting back to my Odyssey for the moment, it can do things the Sienna cannot, such as hauling 10-foot hunks of steel tubing inside the cabin with the hatch closed. In addition to the RTI project, I have previously hauled 10-foot conduit when I rewired my garage, 10-foot 2x6 and 4x4 lumber when I built my daughter a loft, as well as other such projects I've since forgotten.
All of this goes down easily with no seat removal (my car has no middle-middle seat), no reconfiguration beyond flopping the third row into its well. The only real prep I have to do is lay out a couple furniture blankets to protect the carpet.
Sometimes the evolution of a vehicle takes it further away from the thing that made it a must-have in the first place. For me, at least, the addition of fixed center consoles in minivans is a step in the wrong direction.
As for the 2011 Honda Odyssey EX Touring, I'll try that removable console on for size next week when I go buy that 10-foot ladder I've got my eye on.
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing