My sister and I affectionately called the 2011 Toyota Sienna tester "The Blue Bomber." Though, of course, the South Pacific Pearl paint is more of a teal. Blue just goes better with bomber. So, we went with it.
As a single female in the city, a minivan isn't quite my vehicle of choice, but Toyota is trying to make the minivan cool again with its whole "Swagger Wagon" campaign. One of my tweet buddies even called the minivan "retro cool."
I'm really not sure I'd go that far on either account. But, there are certainly some some things that a minivan brings to the table that a family sedan or SUV does not.
On the plus side, things I loved ...
- The optional dual power sliding doors (part of a $2,735 package on the test vehicle).
- Plenty of cubby holes and storage spaces for purses, cell phones, cords and chargers, iPods, etc.
- Easy entry and exit as well as great visibility out all windows.
- Nice deep rear well that provides good stowage space when rear seats are up.
- Auto up/down function for all windows.
- Easy access to rear seats with the pull of a lever.
- Fuel economy ratings of 19/24 and the fact that I averaged 22 mpg in primarily city driving.
- A base price of $25,345.
However, even though I don't have children, I noticed a few downers that might prohibit a couple of parents from purchasing a Sienna:
- Rear seats are incredibly difficult to maneuver. I could fold the back down, but I didn't have enough strength to pull them down into the rear well for a flat load floor.
- Second-row seats move forward easily, but they'd be cumbersome to remove if you needed a completely flat load floor.
- The power side doors open slowly when using the key fob. They're much faster from the interior buttons.
- There is no deep center console that would fit a small purse or kid-related necessities. The dual glove box is a little too far away for a driver to reach easily -- even when completely stopped.
- Light color of the interior and seat fabric stains easily. The only two options for fabric are a light gray or a beige.
While a minivan is definitely functional, I just can't get on board with the whole cool thing. Though, I absolutely give props to Toyota for trying. For your amusement, I've embedded the "Swagger Wagon" music video. Um. Hmmmmm.