This week’s test drive: 2018 Toy­ota Sienna Mini­van

The Republican Herald - - CLASSIFIEDS - By Greg Zyla

En­try price: $ 30,850 Price as tested: $ 49,610

This week we’re en­joy­ing the lux­u­ri­ous sur­round­ings of Toy­ota’s top line 2018 Sienna Lim­ited Pre­mium AWD mini­van, the only mini­van in Amer­ica that of­fers 4x4. With roomy and deluxe ap­point­ments, this Sienna could eas­ily be called a “max­i­van” thanks to its long wheel­base at­tributes and room for seven- pas­sen­gers. New for 2018 is a re­fresh to the ex­te­rior de­sign with an all- new front end along with new lower side rocker pan­els.

Dur­ing our week­long test, we uti­lized the Sienna to move some house­hold items, make a few runs to the home cen­ter and also some shorter mileage runs on back coun­try roads. Over­all, and with ex­tra thanks to the in­fe­rior’s many stor­age of­fer­ings, it was a plea­sure in each and ev­ery man­ner of use.

Toy­ota en­gi­neers, al­beit late to the mini­van party that started with Dodge and Ply­mouth in 1984, have in­deed fig­ured out how to mas­ter any ex­tra cargo room con­cerns that usu­ally plague ve­hi­cles with third row seat­ing, much to our de­light. Sienna’s deep cargo area be­hind its third row split bench al­lows fam­i­lies who might have had to buy an at­tach­able cargo top

loader to stack suit cases be­hind the third row with ease.

Al­though we drove the top line Lim­ited Pre­mium AWD that starts at $ 48,615, con­sumers are to take note that not all Sienna’s cost over $ 40K. The en­try level and well equipped “L” base model starts at just $ 30,850 with the pow­er­ful V6 en­gine as stan­dard and seat­ing that ac­com­mo­dates eight pas­sen­gers.

The stan­dard en­gine that pow­ers all of the Sienna fam­ily is a 3.5 liter V6 that pro­duces 296 horses and 263

lb. ft. of torque. In ad­di­tion to very im­pres­sive ac­cel­er­a­tion and pass­ing per­for­mance, fuel mileage is very good for a near two ton ve­hi­cle, com­ing in at 19 city and 27 high­way for the front drive mod­els while the AWD Sienna still de­liv­ers a de­cent 18 city and 24 high­way. A four cylin­der Sienna is no longer avail­able as the V6 now de­liv­ers bet­ter fuel mileage over­all thanks to an up­dated eight- speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion that re­placed the ear­lier gen­er­a­tion’s six- speed au­to­matic set­ups.

Stan­dard fare on the Lim­ited Pre­mium is pretty much a “full house” sce­nario as not one op­tion was listed on the win­dow sticker. Up­scale fea­tures like dual power slid­ing doors with child pro­tect, power driver and pas­sen­ger cap­tain chairs with lum­bar, heated seats, smart key with push but­ton start, dual moon­roof ( very nice) elec­tro rear view mir­ror, Homelink, multi info dis­play, tri- zone cli­mate con­trol, beau­ti­ful two- tone leather, sec­ond row Cap­tain chairs, En­tune Pre­mium Au­dio with JBL speak­ers, En­tune App Suite, MP3, 5 USB ports, phone com­pat­i­bil­ity, ipod con­nec­tions, aux­il­iary jack, Sir­iusxm satel­lite, am­bi­ent in­te­rior light­ing, up­graded in­stru­men­ta­tion, and much more.

Al­though we weren’t able to test it, the AWD sys­tem is an ac­tive torque com­mand trac­tion sys­tem that re­duces EPA num­bers ver­sus a 2WD Lim­ited as men­tioned above. The AWD sys­tem fea­tures an ac­tive Torque Con­trol that al­lows the 18- inch Bridge­stone all sea­son tires on 10- spoke al­loy wheels to work in uni­son and not al

low any front end pulling to the

left or right un­der full throt­tle ap­pli­ca­tions.

If a trip to the home cen­ter is on your itin­er­ary, you’ll find it easy to re­move the slid­ing sec­ond row and then fold the third row seat into that deep floor. The re­sult is a mas­sive 150 cu. ft. of cargo space at your fin­ger­tips. Also no­table is a spe­cial XLE with Auto Ac­cess Seat model starts at $ 43,225. This seat that swings out­board al­lows ease of en­try for those who need as­sis­tance. ( Great fea­ture if needed, see photo).

Sienna safety is top notch as all Toy­ota ve­hi­cles now ar­rive with its re­spected Safety Sense sys­tem and three months free of emer­gency Safety Con­nect. In­cluded are en­hanced ve­hi­cle sta­bil­ity con­trol, elec­tronic brake as­sist with trac­tion con­trol, 4- wheel anti- lock disc brakes, pre- col­li­sion sys­tem with pedes­trian de­tec­tion, multi- view Bird’s Eye backup cam­era, lane de­par­ture alert with steer­ing as­sist, auto high beams, radar park as­sist and radar con­trolled cruise con­trol. As for air bags, Sienna now fea­tures eight in­clud­ing front, side, cur­tain shield in all three rows and even a driver’s knee airbag. This is per­haps the best stan­dard safety equip­ment of­fered by any man­u­fac­turer. One fi­nal safety note is rear cross traf­fic alert and blind spot mon­i­tor, both stan­dard on top line Pre­mium.

On the high­way, all Sienna mini­vans han­dle well while the Lim­ited Pre­mium re­ally de­liv­ers with all the ex­tra ameni­ties. Most no­table is a Dual View Blu- Ray sys­tem with a large 16.4 inch screen for rear pas­sen­ger en­joy­ment. With two dif­fer­ent in­puts al­low­ing dif­fer­ent movies or games, this en­ter­tain­ment sys­tem makes movies come to life thanks to the En­tune Pre­mium stereo’s 10 speak­ers with sub­woofer.

The re­lax­ing ride comes thanks to a Mcpher­son strut front sus­pen­sion with gas shocks that com­bines with a twist beam coil rear de­sign for ul­ti­mate com­fort and per­for­mance. All Sienna mini­vans de­liver a great ride, good han­dling and quiet in­te­rior. Im­por­tant is the fact you can get into the en­try level “L” Sienna for just $ 30,850 re­tail, so there are many price ranges amongst nine spe­cific trims to choose from.

Im­por­tant num­bers in­clude a 119.3 inch wheel­base, 4,750 lb. curb weight, 20- gal­lon fuel tank, 39.1 to 150 cu. ft of cargo space de­pend­ing on seat ar­range­ment, 3,500 lb. tow ca­pac­ity, 37.4 ft. turn­ing cir­cle and 6.6 inch ground clear­ance.

Sienna is an ex­cel­lent, safe choice in the mini­van mar­ket for your grow­ing fam­ily or small busi­ness. If you need 8- pas­sen­ger seat­ing, the lesser priced Si­en­nas of­fers this seat­ing ar­range­ment. See your Toy­ota dealer for cur­rent buyer in­cen­tives and left­over of­fers.

Likes: New looks, AWD avail­abil­ity, lots of cargo room, safety.

Dis­likes: Pric­ing can get ex­pen­sive, not much else.

( Greg Zyla is a syn­di­cated

au­to­mo­tive colum­nist)

2018 Toy­ota Sienna Mini­van

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