2011 Toyota Sienna SE: Sullied Reputation
December 02, 2011
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.
I went to the Environmental Protection Agency's Green Vehicle Guide, one of the sources Forbes used to develop its list, and looked up 2011 and 2012 minivans to see how other vehicles in the class stack up environmentally. And it turns out they're all about the same: a little better than average on air pollution and average or worse when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions.
Bottom line: You can't get a super enviro-clean minivan. You have to shift to an SUV or wagon, and that's not always a good trade-off for hardcore minivan people.
That made me feel better about our Sienna. While it can rightly be called the dirtiest minivan in America, it's important to note that it's only a bit more so than its fellows.To really get clean, you have kiss the minivan goodbye.
Carroll Lachnit, Features Editor