Our friends are always interested in the vehicles we test drive, but the Toyota Sienna XLE with Auto Access Seat generated an unusual degree of curiosity. The Sienna XLE is loaded with comfort, convenience, technology, style and safety, but what prompts the questions is the Auto Access Seat, which is a standard feature on this model.
The Auto Access Seat is located as the passenger side second row seat, which, at the push of a button, swings around, extends out of the side sliding door, and descends to a level that allows a passenger to easily sit down. Another push of the button causes the seat to rise, swing around and retract back into the van and lock in place. Clearly designed for individuals with some level of handicap, it not only helps that person, but the caregiver. It increases both comfort and safety.
Several years ago I had an accident, which resulted in knee surgery and the application of an external fixator, which held the bones in place while they healed. I didn’t do much traveling during the seven weeks I wore the device, but I did have frequent visits to the doctor. Getting in and out of the car was difficult, painful and exhausting. The Auto Access Seat would have seemed miraculous to me! Although I have no desire to need such a marvelous aid ever again, I did enjoy trying out the seat for the sake of research. It is simple to use and moves smoothly. I have a family member and several friends who would benefit immensely from this convenience.
Apart from being very impressed with the Auto Access Seat, the Sienna is still a comfortable, convenient vehicle. The minivan has retained a significant popularity in spite of some negative allusions. The Sienna is versatile, with 60/40 split and stow third row seat and removable second row captains chair. This gives a great amount of space for hauling anything from sports gear to furniture. Dual power sliding side doors and power liftgate provide easy and generous access. Additional safety, comfort and convenience are all you would expect and more.
Driving the Sienna is a pleasure. Whether going to work, shopping or taking a road trip with the family, there is power and handling that enhance the comfort and enable the driver to avoid fatigue and drive safely. Sometimes the little details make a big impression, and I really liked the way Toyota put the shifter on the dash, leaving a perfect space between the front seats for my handbag.
The estimated fuel economy for the Sienna is 21 miles per gallon with combined city and highway driving. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price is $40,915, and that includes the Auto Access Seat. Even if you do not need special seating for the handicapped, a traditional Sienna might be a great car for your family.