An all-new Sienna debuts for 2011. New sheetmetal, new interior, new transmissions and a choice of two engines mean Toyota is intending to stay on top of the minivan segment.
The Sienna is a complete redesign for 2011. Two engines are available for this year: a 187-horse 4-cylinder and last year's 265-horsepower 3.5L V6. Each engine comes linked to a new-for-2011 6-speed automatic transmission. What the 4-cylinder lacks in power, it more than makes up for in fuel economy--it's capable of 19 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway--a class-leading achievement.
While the Sienna's suspension is tuned toward comfort, the SE trim gets revised springs/dampeners for better handling that approaches that of a car. The standard 19" wheels on the SE trim are a nice complement to that trim's privacy glass, roof rails and smoked chrome exterior trim.
The Sienna is the only vehicle in its class to offer optional all-wheel drive. Toyota's system utilizes a center differential to split power 50/50 between the front and rear wheels under normal driving situations, but transfers more to the wheels that have traction during slippery conditions. Other Siennas are configured as front-wheel drive.
The Sienna comes with a long list of safety features that should lend some peace of mind. Electronic stability control and anti-lock brakes with brake assist are standard, as are front seat-mounted side airbags and side-curtain bags for all three rows. Driver knee airbags are also included. All-wheel drive models are also fitted run-flat tires which allow the Sienna to go up to 100 miles at 55 mph once the tire loses air.
Interior accommodations in the Sienna include three rows of seating and a capacity of either seven or eight. The 8-passenger configuration--offered on LE and XLE trims--includes a second-row bench seat that can slide fore and aft. The 7-passenger models substitute two captain's chairs for the bench. Toyota has dropped "Split & Stow" seating for 2011, claiming few Sienna buyers actually used the feature. Second and third-row seats are removable to expand cargo space however.
CE, LE, XLE and Limited trims for the Sienna span a very wide range of equipment, depending on whether the buyer wants simple and basic or luxurious. The base CE does include most popular equipment such as keyless entry, power windows/locks/mirrors, cruise control, 3-zone air conditioning and a 4-speaker CD sound system; it's the only model to not offer all-wheel drive as an option. At the top of the range, the Limited adds Smart Key remote keyless system, a power moonroof, heated seats, automatic climate control system, woodgrain trim and a parking-assist system, along with a JBL Synthesis sound system with ten speakers, satellite radio compatibility and a Bluetooth hands-free calling interface.
Options at the top of the line include a unique dual-view entertainment system that allows rear seat passengers to watch two different programs on one display, navigation satellite radio, HID headlamps, rain-sensing wipers and radar cruise control.