Toyota redesigned its Sienna minivan for 2011, affirming its commitment to stick it out in a segment other automakers have fled over the past decade. Wider but slightly shorter than its predecessor, the Sienna offers a four-cylinder or V-6 engine and seating for up to eight people. All-wheel drive continues to be offered on the V-6 Sienna, the only minivan to offer that feature. Major competitors include the Honda Odyssey and Chrysler's twins, the Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan.
The Sienna comes in five trim levels: base, LE, SE, XLE and Limited. This is the first Sienna generation to offer a sport-tuned SE variant with a firmer suspension, 19-inch wheels and racier exterior details. The SE, XLE and Limited come standard with a V-6, which is optional on the base and LE. All-wheel drive is optional on the LE V-6, XLE and Limited.
New for 2012
Changes are minor for the second model year of the current design. A power front passenger seat and automatic headlamps are new standard features for the XLE trim, and the optional rear-seat entertainment system for the SE is now packaged with a moonroof.
The Sienna's styling borrows from Toyota's Venza wagon, complete with Camry-like headlamps, wraparound taillights and a wide, bladed grille. Each trim level gets a distinct grille, with the SE getting a blacked-out version with a mesh insert. Other SE accoutrements include lower side skirts, clear-lens taillights and 19-inch wheels. Seventeen- and 18-inch alloys go on other trim levels.
A roof spoiler is standard, and it conceals a rear window wiper. Fog lights go on the SE, XLE and Limited. All-wheel-drive models come with run-flat tires. Exterior features include:
- Projector beam headlamps and daytime running lights
- Available power moonroof
- Available power liftgate
- Available power sliding doors
The Sienna's dashboard has been designed so both the driver and front passenger feel a majority of the space is theirs, Toyota says. Its swoopy lines convey separate spaces for both occupants, with large dials for major functions like temperature adjustment and stereo volume.
Depending on seating configuration, the cabin accommodates seven or eight occupants. Standard second-row captain's chairs have a walk-in feature that tips up the bottom cushion and slides the seat forward for third-row access. A removable center seat is optional; it stows in a nook behind the third-row seat. The third row folds into a storage compartment behind it to create a flat load floor.
The Sienna's second-row seats are removable, creating maximum cargo capacity of 150 cubic feet. There's 39.1 cubic feet behind the third row and 87.1 behind the second row.
Load up the options, and you can get heated leather seats, tri-zone automatic climate control, dual moonroofs and a navigation system. The optional rear entertainment system has a wide flip-down screen that can play two different inputs — two DVDs, for example, or a DVD and a video game — side by side, with passengers listening to their individual programming via wireless headphones. Interior features include:
- Standard cruise control
- Standard tilt/telescoping steering wheel
- Standard CD stereo
Under the Hood
The Sienna's four-cylinder engine comes from the Venza and Highlander. The 2.7-liter engine makes 187 horsepower and 186 pounds-feet of torque. The 3.5-liter V-6 makes 266 hp and 245 pounds-feet of torque. Both engines work with a six-speed automatic transmission. Mechanical features include:
- Both engines run on regular gas
- Front- or all-wheel drive
Toyota's optional Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management system integrates stability control with various drivetrain components for better response during evasive maneuvers. On Limited models, the optional adaptive cruise control system works with Toyota's Pre-Collision System, which can alert the driver and tighten the seat belts should it detect a rapidly decelerating car ahead. A backup camera is optional. Standard safety features include:
- Antilock brakes
- Electronic stability system and traction control
- Active front head restraints
- Side-impact airbags for the front seats
- Side curtain airbags for all three rows
- Knee airbag for the driver