This one is for the minivan naysayers.
I’m sure we all know someone who’s declared they “will never own a minivan” for one reason or another. For me, it’s always been the way they handle… I’m used to the large SUVs, built on truck chassis, that drive like trucks. The cool-factor has been an issue too, if I’m honest. To me, nothing says you’ve settled for a family car like a minivan instead of something cool that YOU really love.
After driving a Chrysler van for our last trip, I had to admit minivans are very practical for trips. What I didn’t expect from the 2015 Toyota Sienna was to be blown away by how cool minivans are these days!
Girls weekend away – let’s go on a road trip!
I was a little saddened that we were to have the van for a week, yet didn’t have plans to go anywhere besides normal around-town errands and shopping. You just don’t get a feel for how comfortable something is until you’ve spent several hours in it. When a friend asked if I’d like to join her and some ladies for a trip over to Dallas, I offered to drive. Five ladies traveling two hours each way seemed like a good test of the van, and it was!
My absolute favorite feature of the 2015 Toyota Sienna
I have three words for you: Driver Easy Speak. This set of third-row speakers connected to the Bluetooth system up front carries the driver’s voice to the backseat, enabling those riding in the very back of the van to hear the conversation and keeping the driver from needing to shout to be heard. I grew up riding in a 15 passenger van and felt left out of most conversations happening up front, so I can really appreciate this new technology!
We tested it out on our road trip. Once when I turned the Driver Easy Speak off because of some feedback and static, my friend who was sitting in the back asked if I could please turn it back on so she could hear again. It really does make a difference!
Luxury and comfort – The Toyota Sienna has it All
I’d been told about the reclining seats with foot rests. In my head I was thinking, Yeah, right, I bet those are flimsy. Wrong. I tried them out myself first and for a moment I forgot I was in a vehicle! When I showed the kids how the seats work, my oldest decided he would like our next family vehicle to be a Sienna so he can kick back and watch movies on road trips. You really can’t blame him!
And after our road trip my friends all said they enjoyed the comfortable seats and Jennifer said even the back seat was comfy.
We were also impressed with the widescreen DVD player with wireless headsets and a remote.
As a music lover, I enjoyed the fantastic sound system and the media player that has options for a split screen so you can see and navigate through your music, even while you’re using the navigation system!
The little things that make the Sienna great
Will I buy a Sienna for our next family car?
I can’t answer that yet. It’s definitely my first-choice when it comes to minivans and if I had to pick a good road tripping vehicle to borrow or rent, I’d pick a Sienna. But, I still find myself leaning towards a mid-size SUV. Yes, I’d sacrifice the great gas mileage and the reclining seats, but I think for every day use, I’d still want that truck feel that you just don’t get in a minivan.
For a look at the Sienna with the optional center seat in the second row, see 2015 Sienna Review: Keeping Up with Modern Families.
What we loved
- A foot rest for your left foot. Seriously. Every car should come with this! I’ve driven one other vehicle that had a place to rest the foot that’s not on a pedal and since then I’ve wished for it in ever car. The Sienna has it and boy is it nice when you’ve got a long way to go!
- Deep deep cargo space. Wow! I got groceries to last us a week and they didn’t even make a full layer across the bottom of the minivan’s cargo space. Because it is built to store the rear seats, the cargo space is very deep. I can totally see this car having enough luggage space for the seven people it seats!
- Sunscreens on every rear window. Remember those clip-on or suction cup shades we grew up with? I bought some for our car and they’re such a joke. They don’t stay on the windows. The Sienna has built in shades, so all you have to do is pull them down and hook them to the lower part of the window frame. They are effortless and amazing and a feature I want on our next family car.
- A moveable center console. This is something I’d never seen before. The front center console also serves as a console for the second seat, but rather than being stationary and hard for short arms to reach, the back half is on a track and can slide back towards the second row so the kids can reach the cup holders. My kids thought this was pretty cool. And I even found a use for the cubby space created when the console is extended… I had to travel with a plant one day and it started rolling around while I was driving, so I set it there and didn’t have any more trouble. Ha!
- It doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to fuel. Perhaps my biggest surprise came at the fuel pump. After a week of driving which included a trip to Dallas and back, I still had over an eighth of a tank of gas. I was just thinking how nice it was that a tank lasted me all week, including the trip, when the pump stopped at just $32. Yes, I’d used some fuel points for 10 cents off per gallon, but I filled it with the highest grade of gas!!! My old SUV uses the low-grade and still costs over $50 to fill and there’s no way I’d get to Dallas and back on that!
What you need to know
- Takes regular gas
- We got 24mpg in the Sienna. I was so pleased!
- Basic model is $28,000; cost for the Sienna I drove is $45,020
Toyota provided the Sienna for this review; opinions expressed are my own.