Ok, so there are folks who have moved on from “minivan mania” but then there are those, who still require functionality and space in their vehicles for their sapling set and gear…enter the 2014 Toyota Sienna.
Minivans have been stigmatized, true dat, but the Toyota Sienna, now in its third generation, doesn’t quite fit into the preset mold. The wagon has swagger or visual pizzazz and is not just a box that hauls around people. The minivan is easy-on-the-eye, space-efficient to boot and capable of seating seven or eight. In the looks department, the design and lines on the Sienna have a flow. The vehicle has a forward-leaning beltline that adds a hint of aerodynamic appeal; aggressive grill that nearly flows into the vehicle’s HID headlamps and shapely taillights. In the world of minivans, the Toyota Sienna has a more contemporary design than its competitors like the Chrysler Town & Country and the Honda Odyssey.
The interior of the Sienna can vary from basic uninspiring low-rent hard plastics, to swankier with simulated wood accents, depending on the trim and there are five of them–L, LE, SE, XLE and Limited. Comfort is the operative word when describing the Sienna’s innards. Exquisitely bolstered seating, ergonomically right and user-friendly controls and an abundance of space throughout to accommodate all body types. The fit-and-finish of the Sienna’s well laid out interior is neat. At the highest point on the totem pole is the Sienna Limited (the test vehicle), the seating comes in leather. The Limited also adds a brilliant touch, lounge seating captain’s chairs! The folks in the second row get to recline a-la La-Z-Boy style with the built-in footrests that are provided, a real soothing addition but stretching out depends on how far the front seats can move forward, particularly if a person is above average height.
The third row is accessible via second-row chairs that tip forward and the seats also have a long-slide feature to maximize legroom for taller passengers. A useable third row for adults makes the Sienna a draw as well. The seating in the third row is comfortable and can actually nicely accommodate someone a little north of six feet. The third-row seat cushion is not short, so adults won’t experience that ‘circulation cut-off feeling’ in their thighs that appears to be a staple design of third row seating.
The main draw that truly underlines minivan practicality are the optional power-sliding rear doors and the Sienna has them on both the driver and passenger sides making ingress and egress just an effortless task.
Cargo room in the Sienna is ample-plus, really ideal for active families that have to tow lots of gear. The Toyota minivan has 39.1 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row that expands to 87.1 and 150 cubic feet behind the second and first rows, respectively. There are also more than enough stash areas for small items throughout the vehicle and a generously-sized center console.
Electronically-speaking, the Sienna’s available navigation system includes Toyota’s Entune that offers an array of smartphone-connected services like the Bing search engine, Pandora streaming radio, and real-time traffic, sports and stock information. The do-dads that control the vehicle’s touchscreen interface are a breeze to use. The optional rear seat entertainment system with a 16.4-inch display that features a split-screen monitor, offers top-notch resolution and audio and allows the kiddies to watch a their fave dvd on one side and a video game on the other that can play simultaneously, it’s the perfect child shusher.
The Sienna comes with a 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces 266 horsepower and 245 lb-ft of torque. Getting behind the wheel of this minivan is pleasurable, smooth, it has just the right amount, as it moves with purpose. Braking in the Sienna is noteworthy and its agility is more than first rate for a vehicle of its size. Steering this Toyota offers just the right feedback, precise and effortless. For those who want a bit more athleticism and off-the-line punch behind the wheel, they should consider the SE which offers a sportier driving experience.
Fuel economy for the Sienna comes in at a decent 18 mpg city/25 mpg hwy and 21 mpg/combo and with the AWD option, fuel economy is hurt by just a tad.
You won’t go wrong choosing the 2014 Toyota Sienna against the rest of the competition because it gives you the comfortable, flexible, accommodations you expect in a family hauler, plus you get the class-exclusive option of an AWD.
Prices start at just under $28,000 for the base model. Need more info? www.Toyota.com
Check out the “Swagger Wagon” video featuring rapper Busta Rhymes and starring the Toyota Sienna.