2011 Toyota Sienna Long Term Road Test - Audio & Technology

2011 Toyota Sienna Long Term Road Test

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

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 (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: The Whip Antenna 2

October 25, 2011

Toyota Sienna Whip Antenna Bravo.jpg

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: Hates My USB Cable

October 16, 2011


Here's the message the Sienna gave me last week when I plugged my USB cable into its dash port and connected the other end to my iPhone to listen to a podcast. I do this every day, several times per day, in nearly every car I drive (100-mile round-trip commute, remember).

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2011 Toyota Sienna SE: Redressing a Wrong

July 06, 2011

Sienna-Bad Al!.jpg

Because the Sienna did nothing to deserve running Chingy through its audio system. Rude and reckless, Al! But, I believe we've purged all trace elements through subsequent selections.

Cool thing about the Sienna's Bluetooth audio streaming: leaving the system on the Aux/streaming setting starts playback from where you left off, as soon as the system detects the last paired player. It'll start playing before you've even pulled your phone from your pocket. This isn't uncommon on newer cars, but the Sienna has it down quick and transparent.

Bad thing about the Sienna's Bluetooth audio streaming: it sounds like donkey.

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2011 Toyota Sienna SE: Salt Bath

July 04, 2011

Sienna key.jpg

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 SE: Bluetooth Audio

June 23, 2011

2011 Toyota Sienna SE BT Audio.jpg

A little while back I discovered our long-term 2011 Toyota Sienna SE was ordered with Bluetooth audio. I was a little surprised by this because:

1. It's a van
2. It doesn't even have Navi

Previously I didn't think Bluetooth audio added much value over an iPod cable, but I liked the convenience of not having to hard-wire connect my phone all the time to run the music. It didn't have a lot of functionality due to the lack of Navi display, or perhaps I couldn't figure it out.

And if there's a degradation in sound quality (there must be, right?) I didn't hear it.
(I'll save the "I hate compressed digital music files" manifesto for another day.)

How about you? Is Bluetooth audio a fav feature of yours or on the wish list?

Albert Austria, Senior VE Engineer @ ~12,000 miles

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2011 Toyota Sienna SE: Power Liftgate Video

May 24, 2011


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: Best Satellite Radio Reception in the Fleet

May 10, 2011

Sienna radio.jpg

I spent time in the Sienna today driving around under the concrete byways and parking structures of the Orange County airport while listening XM's Pearl Jam Radio. The route, at many points (like while in the parking structure), completely obscured the satellite antenna's view of the sky.

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2011 Toyota Sienna: Smells Like Hippies and Beef Jerky

April 18, 2011


We headed east to lights of Vegas last Tuesday morning. 1,000 miles of open desert, desert dwellers and a few open throttle passes. However, the photo and video team weren't in the much hyped Lexus LFA. No, we tried to keep up with the supercar in our long-term Toyota Sienna.

The idea was to see how it worked out as a mobile studio, mobile workstation and all around support vehicle. We started out our trip a little frazzled because we had an intense dyno session the day before. But the idea of the adventure waiting ahead of us in (or near) a $375,000 exotic was exciting.

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2011 Toyota Sienna: Big Car, Small Features

January 13, 2011


Check out that itsy bitsy teeny weenie little back-up camera screen at the top of the dash. It doesn't even fill the space allotted for it. This cavernous vehicle has some really tiny features.

Look at the audio display. It only shows the name of the song, no other information from the satellite radio. And it cuts off the name halfway across. "A Trip to the Li--" Huh?

What do you think: as big as they need to be or wasting space?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2011 Toyota Sienna SE: What The Heck Is That Thing?

January 07, 2011


OK, so let's play a little game of "name that part of the car." This closeup makes it too hard so there's an overall which helps locate the "thing."

Big prestige points for the first person to get it right.


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2011 Toyota Sienna SE: Rear-view Camera

December 22, 2010


Over the past week it's actually rained here in Southern California. A day in our 2011 Toyota Sienna reminded me of an important feature to keep in mind when you're shopping for a car with a rear-view camera: Location.

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