Saturday, February 28, 2015

Sienna's wonders arrive a little late for reviewer

Mark Glover’s AutoGlo car reviews also can be seen on the Business page of The Sacramento Bee’s website

Sacramento, California – I can’t remember the last time I reviewed a minivan.  I’m serious.

Minivans are the punch lines to many an automotive joke these days, looked upon as some relic of baby boomer vacations past.

I’m not in that joke-cracking crowd, and to be honest, I looked at the recently tested 2015 Toyota Sienna SE Premium front-driver with no small amount of wistfulness.  In my head, I thought: “Where were you when I really needed you?

Sure, I rented minivans for various family outings when the kids were small.  But they weren’t anything like this primo Sienna.

The tester had room eight passengers and side doors that could be powered open/closed with the push of a button on the key fob.  Interior space was generous.  Wall-to-wall leather.  Power features to the max. A rear seat entertainment system offered dual-view screenings of Blu-Ray discs.


Just think how much easier this would have made a daylong drive with the kids back in the day.  Yeah, you young families don’t know how good you have it these days, by cracky!

All this rolling family fun and luxury doesn’t come cheap.  The tested Sienna started at $39,680, but it was sufficiently stuffed with enough features to justify that price.

The Sienna's 3.5-liter V-6 rated at 266 horsepower is not a tire-shredder, but I think most will find it more than adequate for the tasks required of a minivan.

Fuel mileage ratings are, shall we say, somewhat UGH!   The Sienna drinks the fuel at a rate of 18 miles per gallon in the city and 25 mpg on the highway.  With California gas prices currently rising at the approximate speed of nuclear fission, that’s something to consider at the dealership.

The Sienna’s design is classic minivan, but I was definitely struck at how low it rides.  Kids and various small adults can climb into the thing without damaging shins or overstretching thigh muscles.  Good to know.

Interior audio projection was most impressive, the better to keep your young passengers sufficiently focused and entertained while the driver handles the important motoring chores.  Also worth noting: a large army of airbags all around the interior.

In sum, the Sienna is a four-star example of the rather remarkable evolution of minivans over the past generation or so.

But I’m still asking: “Where have you been all my life, beautiful?”

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