Toyota Sienna thought about nearly everything and made a great car even better.
I never wanted a minivan. Kind of like I never wanted to live in the suburbs. So the thought of driving a Toyota Sienna, well, not so much. As I’ve gotten a bit older and a bit more mature, I’ve realized that most of the rash proclamations I made in my 20s about the things I would never do have, in fact, come to pass.
Realizing that we couldn’t afford a spacious house with a yard or a private roof terrace in New York City, we moved north to a small village on the Hudson River shortly before our girls were born. The subsequent arrival of our third daughter launched us headlong into life in a minivan. And I say “life in a minivan” because with three busy kids and lots of family travel, a good deal of life does happen in our minivan–a 2006 model that we will likely replace relatively soon.
When given the chance to attend a preview of Toyota’s brand new Sienna this fall, I was intrigued. We’d been thinking about the Sienna for our next van for awhile, and this would be a great opportunity to get a good look at everything Toyota’s updated “swagger wagon” had to offer.
Great choice for an adventuring family
Our current van has front wheel drive. Living on the Hudson means that pretty much everything is up from the river. I have had to abandon the car at the base of our hill more than once when spinning wheels prohibited me from getting home in the snow. On a ski trip in Vermont last winter, the van couldn’t get back to our ski lodge from the mountain and we had to leave it parked at a restaurant in town and call our hotel to collect us.
Most recently, we found ourselves mired in mud on a remote logging road in northern Maine where some friendly ATV-ers managed to pull us to solid ground. As a family that enjoys off-the-grid travel, we’ve realized that a vehicle with all-wheel drive is paramount. The Sienna is the only minivan on the market to offer all-wheel drive.
State-of-the-art tech=safety and convenience
Beyond its capability in getting you out of the snow and mud, the 2015 Sienna offers tons of features that make it a great vehicle choice for any family. Because I spend so much time driving, whether it’s schlepping kids to activities or embarking on a road trip, I was intrigued by what Toyota refers to as the Sienna’s “infotainment” system–a combination of audio, navigation, Bluetooth and video technology.
Using the hands-free Driver Easy Speak system, drivers are able to navigate to a destination, call for a pizza, or choose a soundtrack just by telling the system what she wants to do. There is also a small speaker above the driver’s side seat that amplifies the driver’s voice to the vehicle’s rear–perfect for when you want to speak to your kids without having to shout.
The new Sienna also offers ample cargo space, a variety of seating configurations with seats that fold quickly and easily, and plenty of outlets for your tech.
Comfort, style and a smooth ride
Part of the reason that I eschewed the idea of a van in my youth is because I love driving small cars. I grew up with my dad driving MGBs and Fiats and currently love borrowing his Mini Cooper. But with three kids, their friends, travel gear, cellos and violins and a doggy, a sporty little vehicle isn’t practical right now.
The 2015 Sienna offers a great deal in the way of style and I found myself coveting the way the stitching along the seats and dash was reminiscent of a chic leather bag. Seating up to 8 people comfortably, the 2015 Sienna offers a choice of bisque fabric, chestnut leather (my favorite) or black leather and comes in 9 shiny exteriors.
The ride is safe, smooth and quiet and taking it out on the highway gave me the chance to enjoy the Sienna’s easy handling.
My current van has a bad blind spot and I loved the Sienna’s blind spot monitors that blink on the side view mirrors when there is a vehicle lurking in the blind spot.
Having experienced all of this, I can confidently say that the new Sienna is certainly a front runner for our next family car.
What We Loved
- Stylish interiors
- Smart Key system
- Back up camera and blind spot monitors
- Versatile infotainment system equipped with Driver Easy Speak Voice Recognition
- Fantastic JBL audio
- Spacious cabin with comfortable lounge seating
- Plenty of cargo space
- All-Wheel drive
- 8 standard airbags
- LATCH system
- Third row can be folded and stowed or set up with one hand, though it takes some practice
What You Need to Know
- 5 models to choose – L, LE, SE, XLE, & Limited – offer a variety of options at a variety of price points
- Interior and exterior accessory packages available
- Pricing starts at about $28,000 and tops out at about $46,000 fully loaded
- Uses regular gas
- Spare tire is included but it’s located under the center frame of the car
Disclosure: I was Toyota’s guest to review the Sienna, and was provided with transportation and accommodations; opinions expressed are all my own.