The Sienna is one of those cars that you don't really notice until
you look for it, and then you see Toyota's popular people hauler around
every street corner, and in every other parking space at the local mall.
you think to yourself—are all of the soccer moms and dads in America
on some sort of email list that I just don't get, and what do they know
that I don't.
The answer is pretty straightforward. They know a good minivan when they see one.
don't get me wrong. The Sienna does not inspire any sort of driving
passion, fun, or road lust. What makes the Sienna a "good minivan" for
countless families is that it just goes about its business in a
straightforward and unpretentious sort of way like that guy in the
cubicle next to you who's always on time, and gets his work done in a
neat, timely, and orderly manner.
Let me give you an example of
what I mean. I was driving the Sienna to the post office and to
Goodwill loaded down with boxes when my young son points to a forlorn
cyclist walking his bike along the sidewalk.
I get hit by a trainload of karma. It was not all that long ago that it
was me walking my bike, flat and airless tire rubbing on the frame,
down a very very long street home.
So obviously I have no choice
in the matter. I flick on the turn signal, make a quick u-turn, and ask
if I can help. It turns out I can as the fellow cyclist has a flat, no
spare, and like me, a few miles to walk back to his home in cleated
I happily double push and hold the "open says me"
bottom on the Sienna's key fob and the tail gate magically, or is it
electrically, opens revealing a huge Sienna maw full of boxes. We do a
bit of creative redecorating thanks to the magic, or is it manual,
stowing rear seats, and the cyclist and his bike get a fast and free
ride home as my karma train happily leaves the station.
Sienna has this unique ability to tickle that practical part of your
brain that appreciates smart engineering and useful utility.
give you one more example of what I mean. Recently I was running the
Bolder Boulder 10K when I need a useful place to get changed and refuel
before a bit of endurance sports reporting. The Sienna with its tinted
rear windows and handy mesh window shades proved to be the perfect
place to strip out of my sweaty running clothes and into my dry work
Sienna was the handy space for a quick presto chango—and I can assure
you that thanks to Toyota's clever interior architecture no innocent
bystanders were mooned in the process.
So is the Sienna the perfect mom, dad, and kid hauler for weekend soccer families in the burbs?
I'll let you decide because it really depends.
Do you live to drive or drive to live?
you live to drive you may want something with a bit more raw and
untamed personality. Perhaps a seven seater SUV like the Nissan
Pathfinder would suit your lifestyle better?
But on the other
hand if you drive to live, in other words you spend your time commuting
from work, to school, to the local soccer field, to the grocery
store–the Sienna might just be the ideal no fuss vehicle for you.
you the Sienna is not perfect. The styling to my eyes is uninspired and
perhaps a bit too anonymous. The driver controls, while simple and easy
to operate, are a bit too Tonka toyish and remind me of those
over-sized bottoms found on so many noice maker toys for 3 to
And perhaps the most frustrating thing of all is the
key fob which makes you first unlock the passenger door, and then all
of the other doors before you can open the electric sliding side doors
and/or rear cargo hatch. I counted three indivudual clicks plus a hold
to open the tailgate when the car is locked.
And before you leave
me a comment saying that I'm being way too picky just consider how
often you use that fob to load the car. And yes you probabaly can
reprogram this function by studiously studying the owners manual.
All I can say is good luck with that!
the plus side my tester Sienna had a great big sun roof, electrically
opening side windows in the sliding side doors, a crisp and clear
radio, three way adjustable heating and cooling zones, and of course
Toyota's reputation for quality.
Plus the Sienna can really haul
when you stomp the go peddle. I was pleasantly shocked at how fast my
266 horsepower V6 AWD XLE blue tester scooted in and out of traffic.
Are all Sienna's mirage metallic blue (Toyota's color description not
mine) because that's pretty much all the colors I saw once I started to
So in a nutshell, the Sienna ticks all of the right
boxes when it comes to utility, form, and function, and surprisingly
even acceleration. It could be the perfect car for the growing family
as long as your other mode of transportation has a badge that ends with
such letters as "STI" or "SRT8" or "AMG' or "GT" or "M" or "Turbo" or
perhaps even "Glide".
2009 Toyota Sienna XLE AWD
Price as Tested: $37,7350.
Engine, Transmission: 3.5 Liter (DOHC) V6 with VVT 5-speed ECT Automatic Transmission
PocketDyno Test Data
1/4 Mile: 17.30 second at 83.27 mph
0-60 mph: 9.48
Max Acceleration: 0.42 g's
EPA Fuel Economy Estimates
City: 16.0 mpg
Highway: 19.0 mpg
Combined: 18.0 mpg
As tested: 19.0 mpg
CO2 per year: 13,043 lbs
Click HERE to follow me on Twitter for the latest news and updates.