2011 Toyota Sienna Review – A minivan with swagger

Expert Reviews Toyota

2011 Toyota Sienna front row seating

Comfort is King

There are improvements inside to make the vehicle more family-friendly, and that’s really where Toyota makes its mark both in the minivan and sport utility segments. Toyota is at the top of the leader board when it comes to family friendly interiors. Busy families spend a lot of time in their minivans, and the Sienna’s designers kept that in mind.

The new Sienna has room for seven or eight passengers, depending on the seating configuration chosen. The middle row has an option for two captain’s chairs to create a pass-through to the rear seat or a standard bench row seat.

All Sienna second-row buckets have dual armrests and a full 23 inches of travel, allowing them to slide rearward for better leg room or move closer to the front seats for child-tending. Eight-passenger models accommodate a middle rider in the second row with a central seat section that can be removed and stowed in the rear; doing so reveals a cupholder and storage tray.

2nd row captain's chairs3rd row seats fold flat into cargo floorsliding center console

The 2011 Toyota Sienna doesn’t answer the Dodge Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country by adding the interior versatility of second-row seats that stow in the floor or swivel into a table-and-chairs arrangement. But Toyota goes every rival one better by equipping the 2011 Sienna Limited with what it calls Lounge Seating. This is a pair of second-row buckets that recline into La-Z-Boy thrones complete with pop-out leg rests.

The third row, which seats three (and is best left to the kids) has a 60/40 split and can be folded completely flat into the floor either in sections or all together to create a larger cargo area when the seat isn’t needed for passengers.

And those back rows can be entertained by an available rear entertainment system. The optional Premium Package includes a dual-view 16.2-inch screen that can be used in a split-screen mode and can display input from separate sources – say individual DVDs or a movie and a video game.

16.4 inch dual input split widescreen entertainment display16.4 inch dual input split widescreen entertainment displayUsable cargo space behind 3rd row

The 2011 Sienna XLE AWD and Limited models come with an illuminated center console that slides to serve both the first- and second-row seats. Sienna’s third-row is a 60/40 split bench and Toyota says there’s room for five golf bags behind it. The third-row folds into a floor well (with power operation on front-drive Limited models) and the second-row seats can be removed.

Also of note is a new-to-Toyota Panorama Camera rear monitor that displays on the navigation screen. It can provide a 180-degree wide-angle view to the rear and includes on-screen back-up guides to help drivers reverse from parking spots or driveways.

Safety for Everyone

Seven airbags are standard equipment as is Toyota’s Star Safety System. All 2011 Siennas come with torso-protecting front side airbags, head-protecting curtain side airbags for all three seating rows, and a new driver’s side knee airbag. Toyota’s latest Safety Connect telematics system is standard on the 2011 Sienna Limited and optional on the XLE. It offers automatic collision notification, stolen vehicle location, an emergency assistance button, and roadside assistance; a complimentary one-year trial subscription is included.

Toyota’s Star Safety System – a combination of five systems designed to work together to keep you safe – is standard on all Sienna models. When you’re driving under slippery conditions, your tires have a tendency to lose traction with the road. Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) constantly sits in the background, monitoring two things: steering angle and direction of travel. When it senses that the steering angle no longer corresponds with the direction of travel the VSC kicks in, reducing engine output and applying brakes to individual wheels as necessary.

2011 Toyota Sienna

Traction Control is very similar to VSC in the sense that it reduces output and applies individual brakes upon sensing loss of traction, but the difference lies in the way that it monitors the traction and how it applies the correction. In simple terms, traction control monitors wheelspin.

Anti-lock Brake System (ABS), which most of are familiar with since its been standard equipment on most vehicles since 1990′s, senses when you hit the brakes hard, and effectively “pumps” the brakes much faster than any human could possibly pump them. This pumping keeps the wheels from locking up, slows the vehicle much faster, and allows the driver to maintain steering control while under hard braking.

Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD) basically senses the weight distribution in the vehicle, and applies the brakes in accordance to minimize forward tilt. For example: you’re driving along with some heavy cargo or passengers in the back and must come to a quick stop. Without EBD, you apply the brakes and the vehicle tilts forward, reducing the effectiveness of the rear brakes and sliding the cargo forward. With EBD, the system senses that there is extra weight in the rear, applying more braking to the rear wheels, helping to keep the vehicle balanced and even.

2011 Toyota Sienna conversation mirror

Brake Assist was designed to have you never notice that it’s there. Brake Assist applies more braking pressure under a panic stop to help you avoid your collision.

Toyota has loaded the Sienna with innovative features that make it safer and more versatile than many of its competitors. For example, like many manufacturers the Sienna is equipped with a radar-based blind spot monitoring system that warns the driver if there is a vehicle in the right or left blind spot. This is an incredible safety feature that is the ABS of the 21st century.

Real Men Drive Minivans

The new Sienna faces stiff competition from the redesigned 2011 Honda Odyssey, which is due to go on sale fall 2010 and has been its most formidable import-brand competitor. The redesigned 2011 Nissan Quest also gets a fresh start and is scheduled to reach showrooms spring 2011.

When it comes to the minivan, there are three market segments: the fans (adopters), foes (rejectors), and a gray-area segment (the hesitators), those who understand the utilitarian aspects of the minivan but are hesitant to drive one, perhaps perceiving a “soccer mom” stigma. Which one closely matches your persona?

RATING 4.0 4.5 4.0 3.5 4.0 4.0 4.0/B


2011 Toyota Sienna Photo Gallery

2011 Toyota Sienna

2011 Toyota Sienna Specs

ToyotaThe official website of Toyota – www.toyota.com
Buying a minivan isn’t an easy thing to do in the United States, because culturally, it’s a rite of passage to the un-hip, elasticized-waist side of parenthood. However, if you’re a real car lover and you drive a 2011 Honda Odyssey with an open heart, you’re not going to choose a crossover over this van.

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  • reviews.carreview.com says:

    2011 toyota sienna review a minivan with swagger.. Outstanding :)

  • Toyota driver says:

    If you want night view on the navigation screen when the headlights are on, hit the display button and the next screen will have the “day” view button. Just press it to put on night view.

    • Derek says:

      I also discovered lowering the brightness of the instrument cluster lights gets the nav-screen to switch into night-mode automatically. Apparently, the gauge lights were set a maximum brightness.

  • here says:

    2011 toyota sienna review a minivan with swagger.. Huh, really? :)

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