Toyota Sienna Minivan Riding Like a Sedan

Toyota’s popular Sienna minivan is all-new for 2011. Now in its third-generation, Toyota adapts to current trends of consumer demands with Sienna’s new looks, more sedan-like ride, plus lots of options for entertainment and convenience-based technologies.

With the all-new 2011 Sienna comes a renewed visual appeal based off a couple of technical changes to its dimensions. While the wheelbase remains the same as the previous version, the new Sienna is wider and slightly shorter. The wider stance gives it a car-like ride that is more noticeable with a new smooth-shifting transmission, along with added aerodynamic underbody parts and an engineered reduction in the coefficient of drag to 0.306 Cd. The 2011 Sienna compares with a sedan-like ride from its front MacPherson strut suspension in combination with a linear-feeling rack-and-pinion steering system.

The fresh look is sportier and more youthful with strong high shoulders, confident and elongated grille with headlamps angled higher to draw the eye up to the big visibility factor of the expansive windshield.

For the first time since Toyota initially introduced the Sienna to the American public in 1997, the minivan is now offered with a four-cylinder engine. Making the 2.7-liter four-cylinder an appealing option for buyers is the news that it’s mated to an electronically controlled six-speed automatic transmission, which is also a first for the Sienna.

The Sienna base grade and the Sienna LE are both standard equipped with the 187-horsepower four-cylinder that returns EPA-rated fuel economy figures of 19 miles per gallon city and 26 mpg highway.

With a starting price of $24,460, the 2011 Sienna lineup offers many options to a variety of minivan buyers, as proven by Toyota’s pricing strategy that can climb over $40,000. At the entry-level price, the value-driven Sienna base model is a smart choice for buyers in the minivan market with its inclusion of triple-zone climate controls, remote keyless entry, eight-way power adjustable driver’s seat, power windows with automatic up/down, plus seven airbags including a driver’s knee airbag.

In addition to the Base and LE trims, the Sienna comes in an all-new sporty SE trim added to the stable for 2011, plus XLE and Limited models. The minivan can seat seven to eight people. Front-wheel-drive is the standard configuration while all-wheel-drive is available as an option on LE, XLE and Limited trims.

The tester was the Sienna Limited with AWD with a base price of $39,770. As you’d expect at this price point, the minivan is posh and nicely equipped with buyers who are looking for luxury. Among the Limited’s extensive equipment list are new Lounge Seating Captain’s Chairs in the second row, two independently operated dual-sliding moonroofs in the first and second rows, front and rear bumper parking sonar, plus a host of premium options.

The standard engine on this top-of-the-line model is the 24-valve, 3.5-liter V-6. The new, state-of-the-art six-speed automatic is the transmission matched to the V-6. This is a smooth-behaving transmission with sequential shift that goes about its business quietly and adeptly, which I enjoyed while traveling around in this 4,735-pound people and cargo hauler. Its towing capacity is rated at 3,500 pounds.

Sienna’s V-6 has a horsepower rating of 265 at 6,200 rpm and torque of 245 lb.-ft. at 4,700 rpm. The EPA rates the fuel economy of the AWD model at 16 mpg city and 22 mpg highway (18/24 mpg on FWD models). — Connie Keane, Motor Matters

Manufacturer photo: The 2011 Sienna has a distinctly new sportier profile complemented with distinctive window shapes and a deliberately hidden door slider within the window graphic. The strong high shoulder and distinct fender flares visually emphasize the wheels. The interior features upscale quality and elegance. Sleek seat designs add flexibility and roominess, while central climate and audio controls are integrated into a single graphic element.

VEHICLE TYPE_________________ 7/8-passenger AWD minivan
BASE PRICE___________________ $39,770 (as tested: $44,919)
MOTOR TYPE___________________ 24-valve V-6 w/EFI
DISPLACEMENT_________________ 3.5-liter
HORSEPOWER (net)_____________ 265 at 6200 rpm
TORQUE (lb.-ft.)_____________ 245 at 4700 rpm
TRANSMISSION_________________ 6-speed automatic
WHEELBASE____________________ 119.3 in.
OVERALL LENGTH_______________ 200.2 in.
TURNING CIRCLE (curb-to-curb) 37.3 ft.
FUEL CAPACITY________________ 20 gal.
EPA MILEAGE RATING___________ 16 mpg city, 22 mpg highway

Copyright, Motor Matters, 2011

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