TOYOTA KICKS IT UP A NOTCH
This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!
Published on Sun, Feb 28, 2010
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
By Harold Osmer
Let’s start with a 3.5L V6 engine rated at 266 horsepower. Couple that to an electronically controlled 6-speed sequential shift transmission for seamless power transfer. Throw in a wide stance, electronic power steering, 19-inch alloy wheels, four wheel disc brakes.
Then take your best guess about Toyota’s latest sports car offering.
For more clues, we can tell you this is a third generation Toyota design. More aggressive styling ideas went into the finished vehicle. Enter a sculpted, sportier, classier vehicle. Once we tell you there is interior room for seven people, you’ll finally realize we’re talking about the 2011 Toyota Sienna. Yes, a mini van.
We are far from knocking the value, practicality, and convenience of mini vans. They serve a definite niche in the automotive marketplace and have proven to be versatile tools in households across America. But why on Earth would a guy with an option choose to drive one? That’s the guy Toyota is aiming at with the new Sienna.
Previous vehicle choices for growing families consisted of boxy, boring mini vans or hulking, truck-like SUVs. Then the crossover segment came along and the families started buying in that direction. Several manufacturers have given up production of mini vans altogether. As a leader in the marketplace, Toyota decided instead to reinvigorate its well-liked Sienna. They expect sales in the 100,000 per year range.
Five models will be available. They range from the base Sienna in 4-cylinder or V6, an LE edition with 4, V6, and V6 all wheel drive, and SE sports tuned version, and an XLE and Limited. Trim options are Toyota’s method for packaging options in an efficient manner. You decide what you need, then select your Sienna model to match.
Final assembly for Sienna is Georgetown, Kentucky. Over 85 percent of the parts are from domestic US sources.
Exterior redesign elements include mild fender flaring, sculpted hood, and lower rocker moldings. A top edge rear spoiler conceals the rear window wiper. Door slide rails have been incorporated into the window sills. Dark chrome accents and grill surrounds add visual texture to what had previously been best described as utilitarian.
We jumped the line and were first to drive the SE Sports Edition. Dark Charcoal seating complements the dash and console coloring. The power adjustable driver seat has an extended range of vertical motion, allowing drivers of differing heights to find their most comfortable position. Through canyon passes and over freeways, Sienna SE performed in a surprisingly quick manner, without drama. Ample power found its way to the ground in as smooth a manner as anything on the road today. Whether shifting down or up, Toyota’s electronically controlled transmission is well matched to the 3.5L V6.
Sienna’s SE option is targeted at buyers with an eye toward sportier driving. Other Sienna models are competent road handlers, but the SE brings forth 19-inch wheels, sport-tuned lower suspension, and specially tuned electronic power steering system. Body roll is negligible, torque steer is nonexistent, and overall handling is solid. Combine the positive handling with a very quiet interior and you’ll be tempted to go a little too fast now and again.
All the sporty talk is fun, but mini vans serve a purpose. Try picking up the kids, their stuff, and their friends from school or making Costco runs in a standard sedan. Sienna’s third row seats fold flat with the pull of a single handle. Second row seats lift up and slide forward with split-second accuracy. The second row seats can even be removed completely to expand Sienna’s carrying capacity to 150 cubic feet behind the front seats.
Left/right side sliding doors let passengers enter or exit in tight parking spaces. Wide windows with one-touch up/down controls provide panoramic viewing terrific driving visibility. iPod, Bluetooth, and a range of astounding video entertainment options are available.
In short, Toyota is not going to abandon the mini van market anytime soon. The 2011 Sienna clearly illustrates how function-first designing can include eye-catching, spirited performance.
For more information about Toyota products, go to www.toyota.com
Name of vehicle:
2011 Toyota Sienna
EPA mileage estimates City/ Highway:
4 cylinder 18/26; V6 18/24; V6 AWD 17/23
Sienna 4 cylinder and V6
LE 4 cylinder, V6, and V6 AWD
SE Sports Edition V6
XLE V6 and V6 AWD
Limited V6 and V6 AWD
V6 3.5L, DOHC, 24-valve
V4 2.7L, DOHC, 16-valve
266 @ 6200 rpm (as tested)
187 @ 5800 rpm
245 lb-ft @ 3250 rpm (as tested)
186 lb-ft @ 4100 rpm
4270 pounds (approx)
Front Engine, Front wheel drive
All Wheel Drive (optional)
Front: MacPherson Strut
Rear: Torsion Beam
SE Edition: Sport-tuned with revised coil spring rates, lower ride
Wheels and tires:
17-inch Alloy wheels
4-wheel vented discs with ABS
Front Power 12.9-inch dual piston, Rear Power 12.2-inch single piston
200.2 inches/119.3 inches
70.7 inches (with roof rail)