The redesigned 2011 Toyota Sienna is once again among the very top minivans. With a solid reputation for dependability and low maintenance costs, the new Sienna also offers a smooth and powerful V6 engine, a comfortable and spacious interior and available all-wheel drive (AWD) versions for added driving assurance in locations prone to inclement weather.
And new for the 2011 model year is the introduction of a four-cylinder model, a 6-speed automatic transmission, a split-screen display monitor for the rear entertainment system and availalable second-row reclining seats. What's more, there's also a new sportier model, the Sienna SE, that features a sport-tuned suspension along with more aggressive styling.
For those shopping in this segment, there are some worthy competitors also deserving of possible consideration. The Sienna's longtime rival, the Honda Odyssey is certainly a good one. While the Sienna generally has held the edge in terms of its quiet ride and exclusive all-wheel drive availability, the Odyssey has been considered the leader in terms of relative handling agility and responsive steering. The new Sienna SE, however, now offers the same appeal to consumers who value better performance capabilities. Another good candidate is the Kia Sedona. While it may lack some of the interior quality and refinement of the Sienna and Odyssey, it's a value-packed minivan with loads of features and solid performance at a significant price discount.
Trims, Standard Features And Options:
The 2011 Toyota Sienna minivan is available in five trims: base, LE, SE, XLE and Limited. The LE and XLE come in 7 and 8-passenger choices, the base and Limited are 7-passenger only while the SE comes in an 8-passenger configuration only. All five models come standard with front-wheel drive while the LE, XLE and Limited are also offered with all-wheel drive.
Even the base Sienna is well-equipped with standard features including full power accessories, triple-zone air conditioning, 17-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, dual sliding rear doors with power-down windows, a telescoping steering wheel and a 4-speaker audio system with a CD/MP3 player and an auxiliary audio jack.
The four-cylinder Sienna LE also comes standard with steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, heated side mirrors, a 3.5-inch display with a back-up monitor, privacy glass, an 8-way manual driver seat and floor and overhead consoles. The V6 LE then adds power-sliding side doors, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, Bluetooth, second and third-row sunshades, roof rails, front seat power lumbar supports and a 6-speaker stereo with satellite radio, Bluetooth audio, iPod connectivity and a USB jack.
The sport-oriented Sienna comes much the same as the V6 LE but also adds 19-inch alloy wheels, lower body skirting, a special front fascia with foglights, a larger air intake and mesh inserts, tinted headlights and taillights, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, leatherette/cloth upholstery, unique instruments and a 6-speaker sound system with a CD/MP3 player and an auxiliary audio jack.
Moving up to the XLE adds a sunroof, leather upholstery, a power liftgate, heated front seats, a power driver seat, a unique metallic gray grille insert, triple-zone automatic climate control, auto up/down power windows, wood grain interior trim accents and a towing preparation package. The XLE with AWD is also equipped with second-row lounge seats with pop-up footrests.
The top-of-the-line Limited comes standard with a dual sunroof, two-tone leather upholstery, 18-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry and ignition, a satin chrome grille, driver memory functions, power-folding side mirrors with puddle lamps, signal repeaters and auto-dimming, a leather-and-wood steering wheel, second-row lounge seats, a power-folding/split third-row seat and a 10-speaker JBL surround-sound audio system.
Available optional features on the Toyota Sienna depend on the geographic location and trim level and are grouped into packages. Among the most popular options are a navigation system with a backup camera, adaptive cruise control, rain-sensing wipers, xenon headlights and a rear entertainment system with a split-screen display capability.
Engines, Powertrain And Gas Mileage:
Powering the base and LE models is the new 2.7-liter inline-4 that produces 187 horsepower. Also available on these models, and standard on the others, is a 3.5-liter V6 that's good for 265 horsepower. All models are now equipped with the new 6-speed automatic transmission, while Sienna LE, XLE and Limited V6 trims are also available with all-wheel drive. A front-wheel, Limited V6 was timed from a standstill to 60 mph in a very quick 7.9 seconds.
The EPA-estimated gas mileage for the four-cylinder front-wheel-drive stands at 19 mpg city and 26 mpg on the highway. The V6 front-wheel-drive models are rated at 18 mpg city and 24 mpg highway, while the fuel economy for the V6 all-wheel-drive comes in at 16 and 22, respectively.
Standard safety features on all 2011 Siennas include traction control, stability control, antilock disc brakes (ABS), front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and a driver knee airbag. In addition, the LE comes with a rearview camera (rearview mirror display) while the Limited is equipped with front and rear park assist (optional on the XLE). Those choosing the navigation system also receive a wider-range 180-degree camera that displays on the navigation system's larger screen.
While government crash tests had not yet been completed at the time of this writing, the 2010 Sienna earned five out of five stars for side-impact protection for both the driver and passengers. In front-impact crash tests, it received four stars for driver protection and five stars for the front passenger.
The 2011 Sienna's interior cabin is attractively designed and generally consists of high-quality materials, although some of the plastics are not impressive. The seating is very comfortable and supportive while the gauges and controls are easy to see and user-friendly. Particularly nifty is the new split-screen entertainment system which allows two media sources at the same time, showing a movie on one side and a video game on the other, for example.
Siennas with the 7-passenger configuration come with second-row captain's chairs that tip up to allow for easier third-row access as well as slide to provide additional legroom. It should be noted, however, that these seats are fairly heavy and can be difficult to maneuver. The 8-passenger models feature a 40/20/40-split second-row bench with a center section that slides close to the front seat, very useful for easier access to a toddler.
Storage capacity in the new Sienna is also quite generous overall. And with the second-row seats removed and the third-row folded flat, the Sienna offers a gigantic 150 cubic feet of cargo space.
The power plant of the V6 Sienna has always been considered topnotch and capable of providing excellent performance. It again will not disappoint. The new 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine, however, while being both smooth and relatively quiet, is more challenged and performs adequately with light loads and during highway cruising. Other situations, for example ascending hills or passing with a full passenger load, are more lethargic. And while the excellent 6-speed automatic lends a big hand to the four-cylinder, it's gas mileage performance really isn't much better than the V6.
The Sienna's overall handling is quite competent, if unexciting, while the ride quality is smooth, comfortable and quiet. The new and sportier SE provides additional agility, but at the expense of a slighly firmer ride, although still comfortable.
How To Get The Lowest Price:
Best Negotiating Tactic: Well, there's definitely a 'best way' when it comes to new car buying. If you want to get the best bottomline, out-the-door price you need to know exactly who to talk to at the dealership, how to make the contact and how to make this person eager to quickly drop prices as low as possible to get your sale.
Those of you in the market for a used car may want to check out this article about how to buy a used car at the lowest price. It details a super effective buying method, one that often beats down prices to wholesale levels.
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In addition, you can also try Wholesale Car Auctions in your own geographic area. While there can be a lot of junk vehicles at these auctions, there are often absolute gems sprinkled in as well. This article reviews what to expect at open-to-the-public car auctions and how to locate them in your own area.