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The 2011 Toyota Sienna may be the Japanese automaker's third-generation minivan, but Toyota emphasizes that the new Sienna is becoming more carlike than ever. Want proof? How about the new Sienna SE sport van, which actually handles like something you'd want to drive, outside of Krogering?
The Sienna gets smart updates to its drivetrains and its interior package for 2011, but not to its seating configurations, which still lag the class-leading Dodge Grand Caravan and Nissan Quest in flexibility. To compensate, Toyota's offering a pair of business-class seats for the second row, just in case your kids don't have enough first-world problems.
The Sienna is offered in a broad model range, and remains the only minivan with an all-wheel-drive option. Available with either a four- or six-cylinder engine and in seven- or eight-passenger versions, the new Sienna strikes us as a worthwhile take on a more fun to drive minivan, though Toyota might not like the fact that we like the cheap four-cylinder version best of all. There's just not much reason to spend a lot on the V-6 versions, since the smaller engine is powerful enough--and since almost all of the safety goodies are standard.
The Sienna's competition includes the Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country, the the Nissan Quest and the Honda Odyssey. It's a solid competitor, and really, any of these can be justified for your reason of choice. But let us toss you a curveball: how about a Ford Flex, with the best handling and looks of all, almost all of the seating variety, and most of the cargo-carrying usefulness of a minivan?