2011 Toyota Sienna XLE: A Step Up Page 2

January 6, 2011

2011 Toyota Sienna LE

There are a few things lacking on the 2011 Toyota Sienna as tested.  One is auto lights that allow the vehicle to ascertain when it’s getting dark enough to turn on the headlamps.  There’s also an inordinate amount of hard plastic in the Sienna, particularly on the dash area that gives is a cheap look, including the “wood” trim.

The electric power steering, as is standard with the breed, doesn’t have great on-center feel and is quite light to the touch in all aspects of driving.  The all-wheel-ABS disc brakes have good feel and don’t feel grabby; the suspension feels okay but transmits plenty of road noise – maybe there’s a lack of sound insulation here that leaves a disconnect here?  Toyota fits Michelin P235/60R-rated tires on the twinned, seven-spoke 17-inch alloy rims that add some elegance to the exterior of the Sienna XLE.

Mileage isn’t bad, considering the size and weight of Sienna, at 18/24 mpg from the 20-gallon tank.  I put 380-plus miles on the Sienna in the space of a week and still had nearly a third of a tank to draw on, using the machine for both long and short trips.

Standard equipment includes one-touch tilt/slide moonroof and one-touch operation for all windows, steering wheel controls with audio on the left and phone operation on the right.  Toyota fits the full spectrum of front, side and head curtain airbags, driver’s knee airbag, front active headrests, enhanced stability and traction controls, ABS with EBD and brake assist.

Driving the Sienna’s six-speed automatic transmission in manual mode is never a problem, provided one is paying attention, something that’s occasionally difficult with seven possible occupants in the Sienna XLE.  The shifting is fairly quick but the system does not allow for laziness, as it will not shift down for the driver.

While I fully understand the need for haulers like the 2011 Toyota Sienna XLE, there are times when I wonder if there’s too much “stuff” and too little substance on these minivans.  While I appreciate the ability to open and close doors with the fob and all of the items onboard that intend to make the user’s life easier, this minivan seems to have a disconnect somewhere that doesn’t resonate well.

Sure, I liked the 2011 Toyota Sienna XLE.  But love it?  I don’t think so.

© 2010 Anne Proffit

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