Toyota Sienna, How Do I Miss Thee? Let Me Count the Ways...Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Have you have ever borrowed something that fit you like a glove? Perhaps a beautiful dress or a gorgeous pair of pumps? You then look in the mirror and think, wow! Yeah, that's what I'm talking about. It's that feel-good feeling that makes you feel like a million bucks. Now, I love a great dress just as much as the next gal but when it comes to vehicles, nothing gets my heart rate going as much as... a minivan.
There. I said it.
So you will understand why, when offered to test out the 2011 Toyota Sienna as a Disney Junior Mom, I nearly fell out of my seat. How could a girl who's been driving a minivan since she first got her license refuse an opportunity like that? Right? People are often surprised to learn the following. When my dad asked me what we should get as the next family vehicle after our first minivan was kaput, I did not hesitate when I said another minivan. Heading into university, my friends wondered why I didn't pick a smaller, 'cooler' car. I'm not entirely sure why, only that I was comfortable with driving them. Three minivans and two kids later, my husband and I now own our very own. My husband did a lot of research and it was a toss-up between the Honda Odyssey and the Toyota Sienna. I remember one of the things my husband took into account was the re-sale value of both models after ten years, which were pretty much the same. All I knew is that I wanted a new minivan!
Now, while I really like my current vehicle, which is a 2007 base model, there are certain features in the 2011 Toyota Sienna that I really miss. It's been four weeks since I had to part ways with the Swagger Wagon, such sweet sorrow. But I will attempt to highlight some of the things which my hearts longs for. Apart from the cool exterior and sporty 19" aluminum alloy wheels.
One of the first things that caught my eye was the dashboard. This is what you get to look at when driving around in a 2011 Sienna Sport Edition. Pretty awesome. (Insert wide-eyed grin here.) I love the look of the speedometer and the leather wrapped steering wheel is just so nice to handle. I quickly noted the USB audio input, for my phone charger, but was happily surprised to hear that I could sync my iPhone via Bluetooth so that I can not only listen to music stored on my phone but also answer incoming phone calls, hands-free, and talk using the car speakers. My mother called while we were on the highway and I thought for sure it would be noisy on her end. But she said she could hear us crystal clear. This is definitely a feature I would want in my next minivan.
The sporty gear shift was really cool though it took some getting used to. The climate control came in handy while driving to our camping destination as did the adjustable cup holder, which was able to accommodate my large Disney Junior tumbler.
The next feature that caught my eye was the middle row extended Long Slide function. This is probably what I miss the most about the Sienna. Apparently, the dashboard was pushed back to provide more cabin space and they added a little to the width of the minivan as well. With the slide function, you get incredible range in terms of accessing the middle and second rows. But that's not all. My kids are no longer within range to kick the back of my seat. Which means I get to enjoy an even smoother ride!
This also means that I have A LOT of space to move around when installing car seats.
Also, note the markers that fell between the seats. With the long slide function, it was SO easy to retrieve them. I was worried they could fall into the tracks but that never happened.
The removable and storable centre seat can accommodate an eighth passenger or be easily stored in the back. Once removed, you have a couple of extra cup holders.
The retractable window shades for the middle row were nice and wide. They are wider than the ones in our current minivan, but then again, the windows are wider too.
Another must-have feature is a large storage space at the back. The Toyota Sienna had ample space for the tonnes of camping gear we brought with us. And it also fits our double Chariot stroller perfectly.
The second row Lounge Seating is great and easily folds away with an almost seamless design. Did I mention how easy it is to stow them? The seats are like they're on hydrolics or something. I was able to lift and store with one hand while I recorded this video with the other.
Finally, I have to point out my kids' favourite feature. The sun roof! It was a fun feature but something I could do without. Base models start at $27,900 (as of this posting) and the SE model full of several additional features goes for about $36,600.
So all in all, I had a wonderful week in the Sienna. We took it camping, we visited Ontario Place. Twice. And I drove to Hamilton with tunes a-blaring in true SwaggerWagon style. What do you think? Doesn't the Sienna suit me?
Disclosure: I’m part of the Disney Junior Mom program and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.