2012 Toyota Sienna Performance

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Performance

As minivans have grown in size, most have axed their former four-cylinder engines and have uprated their stock-and-trade six-cylinders. The Sienna takes another tack: in its 2011 revamp, it carried over its V-6 engine and brought back a four-cylinder that gives bargain a budget-minded choice that won't feel too much like bargain hunters.

The four-cylinder displaces 2.4 liters and makes 187 horsepower, compared to the 3.5-liter V-6's 266 hp. With either, a six-speed automatic is the only transmission offered. While the EPA ratings don't make much distinction between the two, your checkbook might--and with a passenger two on board, the four-cylinder Sienna performs reasonably well, and reasonably smoothly. It's powerful enough to carry a carpool's worth of kids, and thousands less than the strong V-6.

We've been pleasantly surprised by the four-cylinder's performance, but most Sienna buyers will opt into the strong V-6.
The latest Sienna carries over a straightforward MacPherson front strut and independent rear suspension. Electronic power steering is a new arrival, and it's fine in a vehicle like the Sienna, in which handling is a lower priority than space and fuel economy. While it's no sportscar, the Sienna has smooth ride motions and quick steering, making it nicely maneuverable in city driving.

A special SE edition gets tighter suspension tuning, big 19-inch wheels, and a lower body; it's a gamble that may not register with average minivan buyer, especially as it's a subtle difference from the XLE or Limited feel.

The Sienna is rated to tow up to 3,500 pounds, and itself weighs from 4,275 to 4,750 pounds.

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