January 23, 2012
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
January 17, 2012
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 doesnt 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 couldnt refuse.
Final Odometer reading: 23,210
Ron Montoya, Consumer Advice Associate
January 06, 2012
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.
December 30, 2011
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
December 28, 2011
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, 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.
December 27, 2011
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
December 25, 2011
While you can never hope for a White Christmas in Southern California (except for maybe in the local mountains), one of the cool things about celebrating the holiday So Cal style is heading to the beach after opening presents. And hitting the waves if you're a surfer. It was a Christmas tradition in my family for years when we lived in LA, before moving way up the coast and too far from the beach to make it a quick trip.
I was nostalgically thinking about this Christmas ritual while doing a year-end organizing of digital pics and came across this one from last summer, when Dan Frio and I took the Sienna for a surf at Malibu.
I knew my friend's 9'5' Tyler fit in our long-term 2011 Honda Odyssey Touring, and the Sienna does have a factory rack with cross rails. But rather than bothering with strapping the boards to the top, my 10-foot beater longboard and Dan's 9'2" fit snugly down the center, with a few inches to spare.
No wonder you see so many minvans at surf spots along the California coast, especially belonging to the
old dudes more mature surfers. But as grizzled surf journo Rob Gilley points out in "Ode to the Man Van," minivans are the most functional urban surf vehicles on the road -- age and image be damned.
And if a Sienna is good enough for Mavericks charger and "Brawny Towel Man" Grant Washburn, it's good enough to transport me and Frio to two-foot Malibu.
Doug "Dreaming of a White Water Christmas" Newcomb, Senior Editor, Technology
December 21, 2011
Four-year-old girl. Eight-month-old boy. Wife. Two large suitcases. One medium suitcase. One small suitcase. One garment bag. Portable crib. Space heater. Two cardboard boxes full of Christmas presents. One large cooler. One medium cooler. About six tote/reusable grocery bags full of various things. Pack of diapers. Diaper bag. Two duffel bags. Laptop bag. Two backpacks. Two pillows. (And a partridge in a pear tree.)
December 19, 2011
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
December 16, 2011
We've been sitting on five BFG Mud Terrain T/A tires for our 2012 Jeep Wrangler for a couple weeks, wainting for the wheels to arrive. Yesterday was the day, and I wasted no time hauling them over to Stokes Tire Pros to get them mounted.
The only long-term vehicles in our fleet capable of the job are the two minivans, the 2011 Toyota Sienna and the 2011 Honda Odyssey.
I chose the Toyota because the sliding nature of its middle row allowed me to load all five 33-inch tires and five boxed 17-by-8.5 wheels in back without removing any seats. The same job in the Odyssey would have required removal of some or all of the middle row.