Minivan updates have been few and far between as of late, but the segment is heating up. Toyota released significant changes in its 2011 model Sienna, beating Honda to the punch as it prepares an updated 2011 Odyssey.
The Sienna's power train doesn't break any new ground, relying on a conventional 3.5-liter V-6 with variable valve timing. Its 265 horsepower ensures good acceleration, although the engine sounds strained during high-speed passing.
Siennas can be had in seven- or eight-passenger configuration. The eight-passenger model uses bench seats for middle and third rows, while the seven-passenger version has two captain's chairs in the middle.
In the Limited trim version, the side doors and rear tailgate are all power-operated. Pulling the side door handle causes the door to slide open, while buttons on the inside activate the closing mechanism.
The Sienna can be had in front-wheel- or all-wheel-drive versions, but the latter incurs a 2 mpg penalty. As for ride quality, we didn't find it particularly soft, but there was a lot of body movement during quick maneuvers.
Toyota includes this small LCD at the top of the dashboard, so non-navigation-equipped Siennas can still show rich information. Leaving it in place with the navigation equipped Sienna is a cost-saving measure on the part of Toyota, so the company does not have to reconfigure the dashboard completely.