2011 Toyota Sienna Long Term Road Test

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2011 Toyota Sienna SE: Spotted on the Dealer Lot

January 23, 2012

Sienna Retail.JPG Some of you have wondered what happens to the long term cars we sell to Carmax. I spotted our 2011 Toyota Sienna SE on Carmax's Web site today. We sold it to them recently for $25,000. Carmax is asking $28,998, a mark-up of about $4,000 (16 percent). For reference, the dealer retail TMV is $26,283. The MSRP on a 2012 Sienna SE with the same options is about $35,100.

Would you buy our Sienna for $29K?

Ron Montoya, Consumer Advice Associate

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2011 Toyota Sienna SE: An Offer We Couldn't Refuse

January 17, 2012

Sienna at CARMAX.jpg There was a warm reception for our long-term 2011 Toyota Sienna to Carmax when I took it there on Friday. Edmunds trade-in TMV had estimated that we would get about $22,660 for our Sienna, which had just over 23,200 miles on the odometer. Carmax had been pretty close to our trade-in TMV price recently and since it only gives price quotes in $500 increments, I guessed the Carmax offer would be $22,500.

"We like to see Toyotas come in," said the representative when I arrived. "They're very popular."

Minivans have great resale value. Families who can't pay for them new -- or are thrifty and don't want to pay the new-car premium-- will wait a few years for the price to drop. The Carmax rep added that customers flock to the Siennas or Honda Odysseys on the lot. This was a good sign.

The price quote surpassed our expectations. Carmax offered us $25,000. This was $2,340 more than the trade-in TMV and even $410 more than private-party TMV. We paid $32,243 for the Sienna (plus tax and title). The MSRP was $34,684. We thought about what to do over the long weekend and decided to take the offer.

Some readers have asked us how we are able to get great prices from Carmax. But the truth is we don't have any inside sources or special arrangements. The people there treat us like any other customer. The offers are competitive because we bring in year-old cars with a number of options on them. It also doesn’t hurt that used-car prices are very high right now.

We don't always get the best price from Carmax, but this time it was an offer we couldn’t refuse.

Final Odometer reading: 23,210

Ron Montoya, Consumer Advice Associate

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2011 Toyota Sienna SE: Minivan Sales Champ

January 06, 2012

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We were performance testing a few minivans this week and started discussing sales numbers. Brent recently polled the child-tethered staff here on which van they would buy.

But which vans did the regular John/Joan Citizen buy in 2011? Data from Edmunds' crack Pricing and Analysis team shows that the Toyota Sienna was the 2011 minivan sales champ.

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2011 Toyota Sienna SE: Breakfast With...The Sienna?

December 30, 2011

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Well, we tried it. Lacks the sheer coolness of the Breakfast with the Raptor we had last spring.

Same fresh air. Same cool kid. Same freaked-out wife.

But the minivan in our face just wasn't as awesome.

Josh Jacquot, Senior editor

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2011 Toyota Sienna SE: Well, That's Mostly Better

December 28, 2011

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For the past few days I've been driving around with our Sienna's fender-mounted mast antenna removed. For reference, Al did a couple recent posts on it (here and here), but mostly it comes down to being a distraction and an obvious sign of cost-cutting.

Yet on my recent nighttime holiday trip with my family, I had to keep the audio system off (sleeping kids in the back). At that point I noticed that the antenna is also kind of noisy as it flaps about in the wind. It got to the point that I just unscrewed the antenna and left in the van. No AM/FM? No problem since I just listen to satellite radio and my iPod anyway.

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2011 Toyota Sienna SE: I'd Buy One

December 27, 2011

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As minivans go, I really do like our Sienna SE. If I were buying a new minivan, the Sienna is where I'd start first. A lot of it comes down to the way it drives. The two biggest draws for me are the V6 (it's strong and sounds good) and the suspension (it's been tuned to be very comfortable without being floaty). I like using the manual gear selector, too, as it expands the accessability of the V6's power.

The other thing drawing me to the Sienna is styling. I could very well be in the minority on this one, but I just like the way it looks compared to our Odyssey or Quest.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 22,420 miles

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2011 Toyota Sienna: Right On, the Sienna

December 19, 2011

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Normally, one doesn't get too excited about driving a minivan. But having just taken the keys to the Sienna, I have to say I'm pretty pleased with the assignment. Sure, it's fun to drive your kid to school in the NSX, or be amused by seeing how many grocery bags you can cram into the 911. But it's also nice to have a break from car guy-dom and just drive a vehicle that's meant for family use.

A Sienna for two weeks? Sure, I'm down with that.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 22,110 miles

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2011 Toyota Sienna: Label Recall

December 15, 2011

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Last week NHTSA announced that Toyota is recalling certain 2011 and 2012 Toyota Sienna vehicles for failing to display the correct vehicle weight capacity stickers. We'll file this one into the good to know, but not too worried about it folder.

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2011 Toyota Sienna: The Doors, Round 3

December 12, 2011

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As the bell rings to start Round 3 of 2011 Toyota Sienna vs. Toyota Santa Monica, let's recap the first two rounds. Josh encountered a problem with the side doors not opening properly and dropped it off at the dealer.

The techs were unable to duplicate the problem so our advisor asked to keep it overnight so her shop foreman could take a look. That was the latest, until my phone rang. It was Toyota Santa Monica...

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2011 Toyota Sienna SE: "Dealing" With The Doors Round Two

December 06, 2011

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Yesterday I took the Sienna to the dealer to address an issue we've been having with its automatic doors for months. If you've been playing along at home you know there's a TSB for this issue and that we haven't had it addressed.

There's a reason for this.

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2011 Toyota Sienna SE: "Dealing" With The Doors

December 05, 2011

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I dropped the Sienna off at the dealer this morning to address the automatic doors which periodically don't fully open when activated by the interior or exterior handles. I was able to duplicate the problem at the dealer.

Here's how that conversation went:

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2011 Toyota Sienna SE: Last Call

December 02, 2011

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Our long-term Sienna has 21,217 miles on its clock as it sits in my driveway today. That means it's nearing the end of its time with us. I'm going to drive it this weekend. Any last requests? Keep it reasonable and I'll report back on Monday.

Oh, and yes, that's our neighbor's 5-Series wagon, which is decidedly cooler than this minivan. And I like minivans.

Josh Jacquot, Senior editor

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2011 Toyota Sienna SE: Sullied Reputation

December 02, 2011

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Learning that the 2012 version of our Toyota Sienna has made Forbes' list of America's Dirtiest Vehicles is like finding out your mom and dad are running an illegal toxic dump in your garage.

It's no shocker to learn that a $1 million supercar like the Bugatti Veyron has air-dirtying tendencies. But minivans have a reputation for being big-hearted haulers of kids, dogs, bikes and home-improvement materials. And when someone tells your Sienna is leading a double life-- that it is in effect choking children on playgrounds and killing polar bears? That's tough.

According to Forbes, the 2012 Sienna has a slighter better than average air-pollution score (6 out of 10, with 10 equaling no tailpipe emissions whatsoever). It contributes 6.11 metric tons CO2 annually to the environment. The EPA gives it score of 3 out of 10 for greenhouse gas emissions, with 10 being the cleanest. And that's how the Sienna wins the dubious distinction of being the dirtiest minivan in America, according to Forbes.

But there's a little more to the story.

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2011 Toyota Sienna SE: Minivan vs. Hotel Bel-Air

November 23, 2011

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As I pulled into valet parking for the Hotel Bel-Air in the Toyota Sienna, it occurred to me that Vehicle Testing Manager Mike Schmidt might have been paying me back for some past transgression by arranging it so I would attend a press event at one of the most fashionable hotels in L.A. in a minivan.

Schmidt later denied it, of course. And the Hotel Bel-Air valet guys took it in stride and said that they get minivans all the time.

Maybe so, because the Hotel Bel-Air is the quintessential suburban hotel, so L.A. in its expression of a design ethic that’s all about sunshine, iced drinks and the sound of sprinklers on a summer morning. If you really know L.A., you head for the Hotel Bel-Air. All those flashy hotels on the Sunset Strip are strictly for hicks and Euro-trash.

And while a minivan might seem out of place at a hotel (especially at this one), it is of course equally suburban in its design ethic. In fact, the Sienna turns out to be better at what it does than the Hotel Bel-Air. It’s all about the difference between design and décor.

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2011 Toyota Sienna SE: Seen in the Wild

November 15, 2011

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Everytime I get in our long-term Sienna SE, I think, "Who buys a minivan these days without a nav or entertainment system??" (Cough,cough, Scott Oldham, cough).

But such is the reality of choosing the "sport" trim.

But just when I was starting to think we were the only ones, there it was, directly in front of me in the Chik-fil-A drive-thru. An identical SE, same color, too.

Maybe the guys from Car and Driver?...

Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 20,472 miles

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2011 Toyota Sienna SE: Milestone

November 05, 2011

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Our Toyota Sienna minivan has reached the 20,000-mile mark. Unfortunately, that means it won't be long before the Sienna leaves the long-term fleet. And when that happens, it will be missed. But don't fret, we'll have a full wrap-up story once we're done with the blogging.

Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 20,011 miles.

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2011 Toyota Sienna SE: The Whip Antenna 2

October 25, 2011

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I previously mentioned this after my trip to Vegas in Feb, but now I have video!!

Anyway, I don't like vans, but if you have to drive one, our long-term 2011 Toyota Sienna SE is about as good as it gets. Our Sienna has good quality throughout. One glaring exception that screams "Cost Cutting!" is that pesky bugger of a whip antenna.

I haven't rolled in the Sienna in quite a while (as my Costco visits are now semi-annual.) But one thing that I did notice was that antenna mast. While cruising down the highway that staff would bend and flex and bow in my peripheral vision. And once something like this catches your eye, it's hard to ignore.

Not super annoying -- but it did get my unwanted attention.

What do you think? Is the whip antenna a dealbreaker for you?

Albert Austria, Senior VE Engineer @ 19, 340 miles

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2011 Toyota Sienna: Sticking Doors w/ Video

October 24, 2011

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Last week I vowed to make a video the next time the Sienna's sliding doors stuck. It happened this morning at the car wash.

It's not clear at the beginning of the video that slider is already open (and stuck), but it is -- ever so slightly. This is usually how the problem goes: I grab the handle expecting the door to slide open on its own and it opens a little bit and stops.

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2011 Toyota Sienna SE: The Sticking Doors

October 18, 2011

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This has happened to me probably four or five times in the 10 months we've had the Sienna. Periodically, one of the sliding doors will stop after partially opening or closing. This time it happened while I was running to catch a plane or I'd have made a video. Seems to happen to both doors.

This is where the door stopped. Took me about 20 seconds to work it closed after grabbing my bag. The problem is puzzling because the solution is slow. This time the doors were unresponsive to the key fob and the interior buttons. What's more, the Sienna's sliders aren't meant to be operated manually. Ever.

So when you pull on them -- in either direction -- you're working against the mechanism, which means you've got to be slow and careful in working the door into the fully open or fully closed position where the mechanism is again willing to take over.

I'm curious if any other Sienna owners are experiencing this problem. Given the fact that it's happened to me more than once and the fact that the doors clearly aren't broken, I'm wondering if it's something I'm doing. Could be. After all, I don't even know even know how to use the USB port.

Next time there will be video. I promise.

Josh Jacquot, Senior editor

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2011 Toyota Sienna SE: Turn Signals? Maybe.

October 14, 2011

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Last night I jumped in the Sienna to come home and was less than a block from the office before I noticed the turn signals didn't work. Either of them. Hit the stalk either up or down and nothing happened. No blinking on the dash. No blinking outside.

It was dark so paranoia immediately hit. If the signals don't work, do the brake lights? I can testify that it's quite diffcult to observe brake lights from the driver's seat. Even at night. Eventually, I satisfied myself that the brake lights were functional. And then, just to see what would happen, I punched the emergency flasher button, which miraculously resurrected the signals. After that the stalk worked as well. And they worked this morning.

Weird. Unnerving.

Josh Jacquot, Senior editor

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2011 Toyota Sienna SE: Big Car Fatigue

October 11, 2011

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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.

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2011 Toyota Sienna SE: Angle Of Reproach

October 07, 2011

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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...

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2011 Toyota Sienna SE: Would You Sticker Your Bumper?

October 07, 2011

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You've seen them, "Student of the Month," "Honor Roll," stickers your child brings home from school, anxious to apply them to your car's rear bumper.

Lately, I've noticed most minivans or SUVs displaying stickers on the rear hatch near the bottom of the glass, not on the painted bumper.

Where would you put yours?

The debate rages on in our house. Meanwhile, it's proudly displayed on our kitchen fridge.

Kelly Toepke, News Editor

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2011 Toyota Sienna SE: Retained Value

September 07, 2011

010_Sienna_SE.jpg Popular minivans like our Toyota Sienna SE have excellent resale value. People are always in need of a spacious vehicle to carry their families, but can’t always afford these minivans when they are new. But after depreciation has taken its hit, these vehicles are a great choice for budget-minded consumers in need of a family hauler. After the kids have grown up, the minivan's retained value will help the owner get the most for his trade-in.

However, retained value isn't always dictated by the best-selling vehicle. If that was the case, the Dodge Grand Caravan would have the highest resale value. Instead, popularity in the used-car market is what really drives resale value. Hondas and Toyotas have a general reputation for being reliable vehicles and thus tend to do better in the used-car market. So where does the Sienna rank in terms of retained value?

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2011 Toyota Sienna SE: Clear Tail Lights

September 02, 2011

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Back in the mid to late '90s, clear tail lights were all the rage. I even bought a set for my car, though they didn't last very long. Nearly every cop who saw them wanted to give me a fix-it ticket. I got tired of being hassled and put the factory ones back on.

Nowadays clear tail lights are all over the place. The Lexus RX350 has them, as did our departed Mitsubishi Outlander GT and even our Toyota Sienna, though these lights are exclusive to the SE trim level. All other Sienna models have the more traditional tail lights with red reflectors.

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2011 Toyota Sienna: Bumper Damage Repaired

August 14, 2011

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We posted last week that our 2011 Toyota Sienna was not aging well cosmetically. The most significant damage was to the front bumper. Take a look.

See the damage to both the bumper plastic and the wheel liner plastic? The metal screws holding the liner to the bumper ripped right through in multiple locations. This made the bumper itself sag, which caused it to catch on objects (namely, cement parking stall blocks), that in turn pulled the bumper off even further.

We didn't want to take it to the body shop, but realized that no combination of c-clamps, washers or Gorilla Glue would put Humpty back like new. So after 4 days under the knife and $1,000 our Sienna was fixed. The wheel liner is new. The front bumper is new. One (fortunate?) byproduct of the surgery is that the pre-existing front bumper scuffs are now gone.

Total Cost: $998.52

Days out of Service: 4

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 15,707 miles

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2011 Toyota Sienna: The Minivan Life

August 05, 2011

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Our 2011 Toyota Sienna lives a rough life. It's the minivan life. Sure, passing the keys around to 30 different drivers exaggerates the abuse, but minivans are made for this sort of thing.

If the minivan in your driveway is pristine, I commend you. Then I ask, are you really using it? I draw the comparison to owning a truck. If you don't have a dent here or a ding there then maybe you don't need it. I'm not trying to justify the degree to which our Sienna is marred. But I am saying that when it comes time to repair the front bumper cover, we aren't going to worry about these dings and scuffs. Not until we get closer to selling it, at least.

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 15,707 miles

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2011 Toyota Sienna: That Doesn't Look Right

July 29, 2011

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Our 2011 Toyota Sienna is looking a little ragged. The bumper looks like this right now. I guess our Band-Aid repair job held just about as long as you'd expect such a fix to last. A visit to the body shop is in our future.

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager

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2011 Toyota Sienna SE: Spotted in the Wild

July 28, 2011

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"Spotted in the Wild" is term that was coined by someone here to indicate a car-sighting during the course of one's daily doings. I think that someone was Caroline. And I'm hoping it wasn't Monticello, as he might request a royalty for this post.

Anyway, many of the Toyota Siennas I have seen in SoCal lately have been in SE trim. Previously, I would have thought this weird, believing that not too many people would want a sporty minivan. But the Sienna in SE trim only has better vehicle dynamics than the Odyssey (and every other minivan) and also looks better. The rest of the Siennas are worse, of course -- floaty and ugly.

The SE version of the Sienna is really good. It's the best minivan out there.

Albert Austria, Senior VE Engineer @ ~ 15,500 miles

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2011 Toyota Sienna SE: Still Minivans?

July 19, 2011

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Why, yes, minivans have grown. Here's a quick comparsion between the modern-day 2011 Toyota Sienna and the first-generation Dodge Grand Caravan:

2011 Toyota Sienna:

Wheelbase: 119.3 in

Length: 200.2 in

Width: 78.1 in

Height: 68.7 in

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2011 Toyota Sienna SE: 15,000 Smiles

July 18, 2011

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We bought our long-term 2011 Toyota Sienna SE only seven months ago, but it has been a workhorse. Yesterday the minivan covered its 15,000th mile. Four miles later I drove it through an automated car wash and took the above photo with the cool green mood lighting.

Meanwhile, the van has yet to need a repair or an unscheduled dealer visit. But it is coming up on its third oil change.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief @ 15,004 miles

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2011 Toyota Sienna SE: Family Vacation

July 11, 2011

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Back in March the Oldham clan grabbed our long-term 2011 Honda Odyssey and went skiing. We packed up the van and headed for California’s Mammoth Mountain. Well, it’s vacation time again. This time our destination is California’s Big Bear Lake and our transport of choice is our long-term 2011 Toyota Sienna SE.

I would have taken the Odyssey again without hesitation, but I thought it would be fun to take the Sienna this time and compare it to the Odyssey. Sort of a family trip comparison test.

The Sienna and I will return next week with the full report. Wish me luck.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief @ 14,614 miles

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2011 Toyota Sienna SE: Salt Bath

July 04, 2011

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No electronics in the Sienna’s keyfob, or at least none that I can discern I’ve damaged after several hours in seawater this weekend. Many of the cars in our fleet have buttons embedded in the keyfob, or they’re simply transponders to the ignition. They’re not the kind of keys you can string around your neck when headed out for a surf. Until I invest in a lockbox, I'm mindful of these little plastic communicators.

I didn't do any research on the Sienna key before getting it wet. Didn’t know if it contained an expensive Intel chip or what. But whatever was in there looked pretty well sealed. I sought a second opinion.

“Looks safe to me,” our electronics editor Doug Newcomb said. Doug had a stake in the assessment; if we were wrong, we faced a long walk back to Topanga. The Sienna opened its doors manually and fired right up after I toweled off the key. So far, so good. No unintended anything, unless you count calm reflection during a gorgeous sunset drive back from Malibu.

Dan Frio, Automotive Editor

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2011 Toyota Sienna: School Bus and Luck

June 07, 2011

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Yes, another blog about stuff in the Sienna. But for me, this was unplanned. I just happened to be lucky enough to drive the Sienna when I was in need of cargo space.

I bought a mirror a week or so ago. When was hanging said mirror last night, I noticed very small cracks in the glass. There is no real way I would have gotten this 55 lb monster into my car or my wife's car easily. Yes, our Sienna saved the day.

But when I was walking back to the van from exchanging the mirror in the store, I focused on the reflectors at the lower corners of the rear bumper. The more I looked at them, the cheaper they appeared. These were the smaller versions of the reflectors I see on school buses around here. I bet I could find this at a bike store as a part intended to attach to the spokes of a little kid's bike.

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2011 Toyota Sienna: Remembering its Great-Grandad

June 02, 2011

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Throughout its three generations, the Toyota Sienna has been a pretty traditional, inside-the-box type of minivan. That's certainly not a bad thing, because if you're buying a minivan, you're almost certainly looking for traditional, simple and functional all the way.

But let me take a moment to honor a time when Toyota's minivan was, quite frankly, just a little bonkers. That's right, the Toyota Previa.

You want untraditional, how about a midengine minivan? Check out the diagram below from the 1994 Previa brochure. Sitting underneath the front seats is the 2.4-liter 138-horsepower four-cylinder placed on its side at a 75-degree angle. This increased interior space, evened out the weight distribution and lowered the center of gravity. This weirdo powertrain was also hooked up the rear wheels, while there was an option for all-wheel drive (a rarity today amongst minivans, but less-so then) and a limited-slip differential. And get this, you could get a five-speed manual ... in a minivan. Of course, that wasn't unique at the time since you could also row your own in the Chrysler vans. The manual died after 1993.

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2011 Toyota Sienna: Free Maintenance Booklet

May 29, 2011

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It finally arrived. The Toyota Care free maintenance coupon booklet for our 2011 Toyota Sienna is here. Thank goodness. And just 3 months after we submitted the paperwork, the second time If you are counting, that is 4 months and 12,000 miles after we bought the van and completed the necessary paperwork the first time.

Now we are on track. Let's do some maintaining.

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager

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2011 Toyota Sienna SE: The New Man Van?

May 26, 2011

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In today's post I will posit that the 2011 Toyota Sienna is the new Man Van, inheriting the title from the Dodge Grand Caravan and before it the Chevy Astro/GMC Safari twins. It's a simple three-part argument:

1) All Man Vans either have motor* or are rear-wheel drive.

2) The Toyota Sienna SE has motor.

3) Therefore, the Toyota Sienna SE is a Man Van.

But I'd press the issue even father than that by saying the Sienna looks the part of a Man Van in a big way. Just check out the monochromatic treatment going on here:

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2011 Toyota Sienna SE: Power Liftgate Video

May 24, 2011

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The Sienna's door came be opened and closed by a button on the overhead console between the driver and the passenger or a button on the van's keyfob. It can also be opened in the traditional manner by pulling on a handle located on the exterior of the door just above the license plate and it can be closed with this button, which is located on the door's bottom and is only visible when the liftgate is open.

Great feature. One of those things you miss on vehicles like this once you've gotten used to having it. My wife and I owned a Passat wagon before the Mazda CX-9. The Passat had a power liftgate. The Mazda does not. We miss it.

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2011 Toyota Sienna SE: Broken Trim

May 23, 2011

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This weekend I was loading my kids' bikes into the back of our long-term 2011 Toyota Sienna SE. Don't tell anyone, but in the process I scratched up the pillar trim and destroyed the plastic cap thing that covers the third-row seatbelt mechanism.

Hey look, the Sienna's rear windows pop out. I never noticed that before. I wonder if the rear side glass in the Honda Odyssey can be opened. I'll check and get back to you.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief @ 12,176 miles

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2011 Toyota Sienna SE: If This Van's A Rockin'....That's Perfectly Normal

May 05, 2011

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( Title stolen from here.)

I hadn't driven our Long Term 2011 Toyota Sienna SE since the epic 2011 5-minivan comparison. Minivans tend to get a lot of love in our office because we have (we in general, I certainly do not) kids and dogs and stuff to move around and minivans are great at that. So when I saw the van open, I snagged it quick. What I didn't notice during the comparison was how much this vehicle rocks like a dinghy in the bow-wave from passing vehicles.

There's a left-hand-turn on my way home that has me stopped while cars fly by at a maximum of 30 mph. The van is super-quiet and you can't hear them go by, but MAN can you feel it. The Sienna doesn't shake, it just floats around on the suspension for a few seconds until the next car sends it into motion again. Not a deal breaker, but annoying and something I'd have to deal with every day.

I just figured the "sporty" version wouldn't be as willowy as a normal Toyota.

Mike Magrath, Associate Editor @ 11,080 miles

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2011 Toyota Sienna SE: It's Huge!

April 28, 2011

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The alley behind my house, which leads to my garage, is decorated with slashes, gouges and torn paint remnants from delivery vehicles. As I lumbered down the alley in the 2011 Toyota Sienna SE, I was afraid I was going to make a new contribution to this gallery of woe. The rearview mirrors cleared by inches. Once I was safely in the parking area (forget about putting this baby in the garage) I saw that our new Sienna has an assortment of damage including a door ding, curb rash and the right front fender has been flexed so that the gaps are now uneven. All because this is bigger than expected and harder to safely pilot.

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2011 Toyota Sienna SE: 10,000 Miles Already

April 18, 2011

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Last week, while it was chasing a very black Lexus LFA around the southwest, our long-term 2011 Toyota Sienna SE blew through 10,000 miles on its odometer.

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2011 Toyota Sienna SE: Chasing an LFA

April 12, 2011

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Have you been wondering where our long-term 2010 Toyota Sienna SE has been all week?

Well, it's been chasing a Lexus LFA around Southern California. That's right, we've been using our long-term Sienna as a chase vehicle for our Ultimate 2012 Lexus LFA Road Trip. Hey, the photo and video crews didn't fit in the $375,000 supercar, so they had to go somewhere.

I just think it's incredible that the same car company designed, engineered and built both. Lets see Ferrari do that.

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2011 Toyota Sienna: A Speedo Clarification

April 04, 2011

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I realize now that I should've been clearer about why I didn't like 55 being at the center of the Sienna's speedometer. It has nothing to do with wanting to do 140 mph in a minivan -- stopping at a buck 10 is way more than sufficient for this thing. Instead, this is entirely a psychological relation between seeing the speedometer in my periphery, my sense of speed and my right foot.

There is something disconcerting about seeing that needle buried and I'm pretty sure I'm subconsciously slowing down because of it, since I've been "programmed" to equate such a needle position as being indicative of a grossly illegal speed. I equally remember being freaked out by my friend's old '96 Cherokee for the same reason. Now, this is a problem when it's quite common on Los Angeles freeways to drive in the 75 to 80-mph range with traffic regardless of what the speed limit says.

Perhaps this explains why Siennas are always going so damned slow around here (well, at least a small part of the explanation). Perhaps this a great way to make everyone slow down. Perhaps this is the CHP's worst nightmare because they won't be able to collect money from the citizenry. Perhaps I'm alone in my psychological peripheral speedometer phobia, but I still think it's a little weird, a little disconcerting and quite possibly the end of the world. OK, maybe not the last bit.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 9,002 miles

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2011 Toyota Sienna SE: New Edition Coming

April 01, 2011

There is no such thing as the Kirkland Sienna Ford paired with Eddie Bauer; Lexus cozied up with Coach. Now Toyota shacks up with Costco. This is too late for our long-term test, unfortunately, but Toyota recently announced plans to team up with wholesale membership warehouse chain Costco on a vehicle. The 2012 Toyota Sienna Kirkland Edition will be tailored to the needs of bulk shoppers and families.

In addition to all the features available in the base 7-passenger Sienna, Kirkland-spec versions will feature:

  • built-in freezer compartment
  • $250 Costco gasoline credit
  • remote uploading of photos from your phone or camera directly to the Costco Photo Center through the car’s USB port
  • extended cargo compartment with room for a whole pallet of frozen bagel dogs
  • cargo area pre-loaded with 1,000 size 4 Huggies Snug + Dry diapers.

No word on pricing as of yet. Any Costco shoppers out there? What would you be willing to pay for the cache and extra utility of the Kirkland Sienna?

Bryn MacKinnon, Senior Editor, Edmunds.com @ 4,111 miles

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2011 Toyota Sienna: Burying the Needle

March 31, 2011

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I had my passenger take this pic of the Sienna burying the needle at the oh-so-blazing speed of 80 mph. With the center of speedo being 55, I pretty much do a double-take every time I look down from the highway since my mind initially says "Holy crap, are we doing 130?" But we're not. Well, I sorta am, but as Dorothy said in the Toronto production of the Wizard of Oshawa, "We're not in Canada any more."

Sure, the Sienna is most likely to be driven by suburban domestic engineering and care-giving specialists gingerly tip-toeing around town with precious cargo aboard, but this speedo still seems a little ridiculous. It's like I'm driving a GM car and somebody's switched the instruments to metric.

My preference would be for 80 to be at the top (and I don't like speedos that start with 0 at 6 o'clock), but it's not exactly a make-or-break preference. Nevertheless, 55 is a little too grandma.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 9,002 miles

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2011 Toyota Sienna: '08 Model Wins J.D. Power Reliability Award

March 29, 2011

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The Sienna may be less popular than the Odyssey with you, our gentle readers, but at least the model's earning some props for reliability: It was the big winner in the minivan segment in J.D. Power's recently released 2011 Vehicle Dependability Study. The study looked at three-year-old models (from model year 2008), tracking problems reported over a 12-month period.

Toyota's people mover was a top scorer in all four categories: Overall Dependability, Powertrain Dependability, Body and Interior Dependability, and Feature and Accessory Dependability.

Does a win like this make you more likely to favor the Sienna?

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor

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2011 Toyota Sienna SE: P235/50 R19?

March 28, 2011

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Before heading to the mountains to chase the recent storm that dumped feet of snow up at Mammoth I stopped at a Kragen Auto parts store to purchase some snow chains for our Toyota Sienna. The conversation that followed went something like this:

"Do you have chains for a P235/50 R19 tire?"

"Sure let me look it up... Are you sure that's the size?"

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2011 Toyota Sienna: Natural Habitat

March 21, 2011

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I did a school run today in the Sienna. As you can see, minivans seem to be drawn to preschool parking lots like wildebeests to a Serengeti watering hole. There were even a couple older family relatives to keep our Sienna company.

The driver of the red Sienna saw me in our long-termer and asked a few questions about it. I then asked if she liked driving hers. Her response was interesting to me.

"Not really," she said. "This probably sounds weird, but every time we go on a trip my husband insists on packing up as much stuff as possible. His logic is: "We have all this space, why not use it?" It's annoying. For me, I'd rather just take less crap and not need such a big vehicle."

Normally it seems Americans think bigger is always better when it comes to cars. But not in this case.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 7,684 miles

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2011 Toyota Sienna SE: 7,000 Miles on Cool Wheels

February 23, 2011

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Our long-term 2011 Toyota Sienna crossed the 7,000-mile mark on my watch.

After 7,000 miles it still looks new, at least to the casual observer. As Mike Schmidt noticed, if you look closely at the underside of the body cladding there are some obvious scrape marks.

One item I noticed as the car was being towled off at a car wash was how attractive those 19-inch chrome wheels look. They never stood to me before, though I thought the van had a generally appealing look. I only noticed the wheels this past week.

In my opinion that's the sign of a perfect wheel design -- doesn't overwhelm the car's overall appearance, just subtly enhances it.

Karl Brauer, Edmunds.com Editor at Large @ 7,007 miles

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2011 Toyota Sienna SE: The Whip Antenna

February 16, 2011

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Our long-term 2011 Toyota Sienna SE is a great value. It rings up at just under $34,700, not bad considering that includes pretty much everything you need, except Navi. But something had to give to get to that price.

On all Sienna trim levels (including SE and XLE) except the Limited, Toyota has included a mast radio antenna instead of a glass-embedded unit. I don't like it.

These whip antennas are fine on El Cheapo-mobiles, but certainly not on something over $30K.
Our expectations have changed.

Toyota is the king of smart cost cutting, eliminating items they believe the customer won't miss anyway. But sometimes they go too far, and customers do indeed miss them.

And you? Would you care if ended up with a whip antenna on your ride?

Albert Austria, Senior VE Engineer @ ~6,700 miles

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2011 Toyota Sienna SE: Liftgate is Too Low

February 11, 2011

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How tall are you? The rear liftgate on our 2011 Toyota Sienna is 5 feet, 11 inches. That puts the door right at forehead level for me. So far it's caught me twice and each welt was as painful as the other. I can't remember any other rear liftgates that are quite this low.

Is this tall enough for you, or am I in the minority?

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2011 Toyota Sienna SE: Low Profile

February 08, 2011

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It's lowered appearance makes our 2011 Toyota Sienna SE look sportier. But from a practical standpoint there is a drawback. Less ground clearance only increases the danger posed by steep driveways and tall curbs. At least this damage was minor.

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2011 Toyota Sienna: The Winner

February 07, 2011

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Have you read our 2011 Minivan Comparison Test?

The Sienna that participated in that test was our very own long-termer. It unseated previous minivan champ, the Honda Odyssey, as well as beating the Nissan Quest, Chrysler Town and Country, and Dodge Grand Caravan.

It has the best blend of comfort, performance and value under $40,000.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2011 Toyota Sienna SE: Eight Passengers in a Pinch

January 31, 2011

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I went to Vegas over the weekend with 6 other people, and our long-term 2011 Toyota Sienna SE can be configured to seat either 7 or 8 passengers. The Sienna has a clever 8th seat that fits between the 2nd row Captain's chairs, and when removed stores conveniently in the cargo area.

Instructions printed on the removable seat make installation pretty easy: just unfold and snap in the bottom and the seatback (you also have to pull 2 small straps.)

I didn't have a scale handy, but would estimate that 8th seat weighs about 15~20 lb.

You can see...

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2011 Toyota Sienna SE: The First of Many

January 28, 2011

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"You're going to Vegas, again?!" bellowed the Senior Copy Editor. "It seems like you go every other month!"

"Oh, please," I replied. "I went only 6 times last year." Over a year that averages out to... Nevermind.

So this will be our long-term 2011 Toyota Sienna SE's first trip to Vegas in its year-long stay, and my first in 2011.

The Sienna has many fine attributes including 3-zone HVAC, 2nd row captain's chairs, and a transverse mounted 3.5L V6 driving the front wheels. But I chose it solely for its 7-passenger capacity.

It will also be the first trip to Vegas ever(!) for two of my friends. Can you imagine?

I'll try to make it special for them. Any suggestions? (Keep it clean.)

Albert Austria, Senior VE Engineer @ 5,800 miles

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2011 Toyota Sienna SE: 5,000 Miles Already

January 17, 2011

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We've only had our long-term 2011 Toyota Sienna for five or six weeks, but we've already blown through the 5,000 mile mark. No problems to report. In fact, the Sienna SE is fast becoming a staff favorite.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief

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2011 Toyota Sienna SE: Zero Range

January 17, 2011

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Yesterday I tested our long-term 2011 Toyota Sienna's range readout. As you can see it clicked all the way down to 0 Miles on its Distance to Empty display, as it should. And I managed to drive the van over 13 miles with it reading zero range before I chickened out and finally stopped for fuel.

I also learned that the Toyota illuminates a small fuel pump shaped warning light on its main instrument cluster when you have 24 Miles of range remaining. And it stays on until you gas up.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief

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2011 Toyota Sienna SE: First Door Ding

January 15, 2011

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Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief @ 4,921 miles

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2011 Toyota Sienna: Our Favorite Caption

January 07, 2011

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Thanks to ergsum for this week's favorite caption.

Here are the other eye-openers:

I swear that was a plain brown shed before you started playing Hendrix. (oldchap)
Dude, what's in this air freshener? (oldchap)
Me, Myself, and Eyes. (sogge)
That minivan's a looker! (altimadude05)
Who's watching the watchers? (tomslick2)
The Seinna came with its own eyePad. (ergsum)
The new "Mystery Machine" (mrryte)
Eye see that Dan stopped at Weed again on the Oregon road trip. (technetium99)
Om, sweet Om! (actualsize)
And you thought the Outlander "See You" was creepy? (dragonflight)
Nice looking karma you've got there. (actualsize)
knock knock knocking on heaven's garage door (mrryte)
That's no garage; that a spaced station! (technetium99)
Sienna trip (deagle13)
Eye SE U (sideswiper)
Third Eye Blind Spot Monitoring (actualsize)
NirVANa (teampenske3)

What was your favorite?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2011 Toyota Sienna: You Write the Caption

January 07, 2011

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It's our first caption contest of 2011, so let's start the new year off right.

Vehicle Testing Director Extraordinaire Dan Edmunds sent me this photo from his Oregon trip. I don't know about you but I feel like I'm being watched. Too much social media perhaps?

What is your caption? We'll post our favorite this afternoon.

Remember when we reach 100 comments, I ring the bell. When we reach 200, I do the happy dance.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2011 Toyota Sienna SE: Oregon Road Trip - Organic Curb Feelers

December 31, 2010

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There we were, driving down a winding two-lane road in our 2011 Toyota Sienna the morning after heavy overnight winds had registered a peak velocity of 69.5 mph on Dad's wind gauge. Limbs of all sizes, from myriad twigs and simple leaf litter to larger branches that required us to stop and drag them aside, made the trip down Carpenterville Road much slower and more deliberate than usual.

"Do you hear something dragging?" I asked at one point. A loud scratching noise became obvious as soon as everyone stopped talking to listen.

No specific encounter could explain the two-foot twig that was lodged in the Sienna SE's sporty lower rocker trim but, then again, there were so many pine boughs on the ground that parts of the road looked like it had a two-day growth of green stubble on it.

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2011 Toyota Sienna SE: Oregon Bound!

December 22, 2010

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It's a done deal. We're taking our new 2011 Toyota Sienna SE to Oregon for Christmas. A few commenters have pooh-poohed this, saying it's too big.

But our family still lives smack in the middle of the minivan demographic. If we were driving our own car, it would be a minivan because that's what we actually own, what we need, what we use. Our lifestyle is not quite ready for downsizing much below the Ford Flex, a near-minivan we've enjoyed on this trip numerous times.

OK, our presents and luggage would certainly fit in the Raptor, but I prefer to keep such things secure and dry during a long, soggy trip, so the Raptor is out. Besides, I took that one to Oregon last summer: been there, drove that.

No, the Sienna makes too much sense this time. It's the kind of vehicle we'd take on this trip regardless of where I happened to earn my living. And I'm interested to see how the SE's allegedly sportier suspension handles the warped roads up near the California redwoods and the Oregon coast.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing

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2011 Toyota Sienna SE: Brakelights Recall

December 22, 2010

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Photo by Kurt Niebuhr

Just last Monday, before we announced our newest long-termer, the 2011 Toyota Sienna SE, Toyota recalled 94,000 2011 Sienna minivans to fix defective brake lights. Apparently the "stop lamp switch bracket could, in limited circumstances, be deformed by the driver's foot during parking brake operation," Toyota said. This could cause the brakelights to stay on or for the brakes to remain partially engaged.

Recall notifications are expected to go out in January. We'll take our Sienna in after the holiday.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

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Edmunds Insurance Estimator

The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2011 Toyota Sienna in VA is:

$108 per month*
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