The 2011 Toyota Sienna has gained some notoriety for its "swagger wagon" ads, but in truth, Toyota doesn't need to sell the Sienna as a cool van alternative. It's a winner on its strengths alone, and along with today's Chrysler minivans and the Honda Odyssey, is one of the best family cars available.We're giving the Sienna one of a handful of perfect 10 scores here at FamilyCarGuide. The Sienna's packaging is perfect for families, and its safety gear is nearly without equal. It's slightly behind the Chrysler minivans in seating flexibility and entertainment options, but it still offers a four-cylinder powertrain and all-wheel drive, which give car shoppers more choices for their specific family-car needs.
Inside the Sienna, you'll find three rows of seats that occupy an overall space bigger than just about all other vans. Headroom is ample in all seating positions; there's good knee room in front and in the second-row seats as well. Those middle seats are captain's-style chairs; they slide on tracks and stretch out for major road-trip comfort. Still, they don't fold into the floor like those in the Chrysler vans, which ultimately makes the Sienna a little less practical, if you use it for hauling cargo as well as people. The third-row seat is sized for children, and it does fold and tumble to create a flat load floor.
From a safety perspective, the Sienna is among the best vehicles on the road. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives it four stars overall, and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has awarded the Sienna its Top Safety Pick honors. The usual curtain airbags and stability control are standard, and a panoramic rearview camera and parking sensors are offered, as is adaptive cruise control--but blind-spot monitors are not available.
The Sienna also offers Bluetooth and a DVD entertainment system with a wide, 16.4-inch screen that can be virtually split into two 8-inch screens for separate game players or DVD watchers--but the Sienna doesn't have the streaming satellite TV or rolling WiFi options you'll find in the Chrysler vans.