2011 Toyota Sienna XLE: A Step Up

January 6, 2011

Toyota has gone to great lengths to improve its image throughout the American marketplace, nowhere more so than in the minivan segment.  The 2011 Sienna, introduced earlier this year has a more modern look to it – inside and out – and is far more appealing as a driver’s vehicle than it ever was before.

Of course actually driving minivans isn’t something its operators think about too much.  This is a conveyance meant for appeasing children, hauling toys, tools and whatnot, and generally keeping peace in multi-family neighborhoods.  To that effect, the 2011 Toyota Sienna XLE 3.5-liter V-6 minivan is ready to fulfill all the appropriate needs.

Make no mistake about it: this is not a mini minivan.  It’s big at 200.2 inches in length, 78.1 inches width, stands 70.7 inches tall and rides on a 119.3-inch wheelbase.  It’s not a lightweight hauler either at 4490 pounds.  It has good ground clearance – even in front-wheel-drive guise – of 6.5 inches and has a very nice turning circle of 36.9 feet.  Cargo capacity is an estimable 39.1 cubic feet with a maximum of 150 cubic feet with all but the driver's seat stowed.

This comfortable and well-built Sienna, constructed in Indiana, is purposefully designed for American use.  It has an excellent 3.5-liter V-6 that produces 266 horsepower at 6200 rpm and 245 lb-ft of torque at 4700 rpm. Redline is 6500 rpm and the black speedometer with white numbers and pointers (and teal borders and graphs) peaks out at 110 mph.  There are fuel and temperature gauges to keep all pertinent information within reach and the trip computer resides atop the center stack.

The 2011 Toyota Sienna is not a machine that wants to talk much about power.  Rather, it wants eight people to be coddled, comforted and amused during voyages around town and over the road.  To that extent, Toyota fits seatback pockets for second row access, heated front captain’s seats with adjustable temperature control, removable second-row captain’s chairs and a stowable center passenger’s seat with tip-up and long slide.  The third row has a 60/40 fold and can also be stowed at a moment’s notice.

There are three zones of temperature control and individual temperature settings, so that no one can logically complain about the nature of the airflow within this Sienna, with vents in the roof for second and third row occupants.  Then again, minivans are the sites of family gatherings, so there’s bound to be some bitching – no matter what!

In XLE guise, the 2011 Toyota Sienna has a $32,975 starting price, including destination fees.  This particular Sienna tops out at $39,606, helped by the XLE premium package at $6225.  This includes dual view entertainment center with two wireless headphones, voice activated touch-screen DVD navigation system with panorama camera that includes integrated backup camera with dual views (regular and wide angle), on-screen backup guides, JBL four-disc CD changer with 10 speakers, XM radio with NavTraffic (90-day trial free), auxiliary audio jack, USB port with iPod capability, hands-free phone connectivity and music streaming via Bluetooth wireless technology, smart key system for all doors with push button start and remove illuminated entry, chrome accented outside door handles, rear parking sonar (kinda loud) and safety connect.  Still, there’s an extra charge of $82 for the wireless headphones and another $124 completes the laundry ticket, for carpeted floor mats and doorsill protector.

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