2010 Toyota Sienna CE
2010 Toyota Sienna CE. Click image to enlarge

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Review and photos by Jil McIntosh

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2010 Toyota Sienna

Oshawa, Ontario – It’s seen good times, it’s seen tough times, but one thing’s for certain: the minivan segment remains a viable competitor on the Canadian automotive scene. Cars may have a smaller footprint and SUVs may be sexier, but if you have to move a lot of people in comfort, and with relatively good fuel economy, you simply can’t do any better than a minivan.

I had to take two people and a lot of gear from Ontario to Pennsylvania, and for the journey, I had a 2010 Toyota Sienna. I’ve done this trip in cars, trucks and SUVs, but a sliding-door van is still the best vehicle for the job.

The Sienna starts with my tester, the base front-wheel drive seven-passenger CE, at $29,500, and goes up to $39,990 for a FWD Limited. Toyota’s the only minivan manufacturer offering all-wheel drive, and these models range from the CE AWD at $34,505, to the Limited AWD at a hefty $50,980.

The 2010 model marks the last for this generation: an all-new Sienna will emerge for 2011.

All Sienna trim lines share a 3.5-litre V6, mated to a five-speed automatic transmission, making 265 horsepower and 245 lb-ft of torque. Fuel consumption is officially rated at 11.7 L/100 km in the city and 8.1 on the highway; over the course of my 1,889-km trip, I ended up just about in the middle, with a respectable 9.9 L/100 km (29 mpg Imp) overall.

2010 Toyota Sienna CE
2010 Toyota Sienna CE
2010 Toyota Sienna CE. Click image to enlarge

Among its competitors, it rates the highest horsepower, although its torque is mid-pack. The minivan market has been shrinking in recent years, and choices are now limited to the Honda Odyssey, Kia Sedona, and the Dodge Grand Caravan, which also doubles as the Chrysler Town & Country and Volkswagen Routan. (Among the previous “last standing” models, the Nissan Quest has been discontinued, and Hyundai now offers its Entourage, a sibling of the Sedona, for fleet sales only.) From originally being one of the pricier minivans in a more crowded segment, Sienna is now pretty much positioned among its peers. You can get into a minivan for as low as $21,445, with the Dodge Grand Caravan’s base SE Canada edition – 175-horsepower V6, and no Stow ’n Go disappearing seats – or a base Sedona at $28,945, but you can’t get electronic stability control on the Kia model until you get up to the $35,195 trim line. Competitively-powered and similarly-equipped to the Sienna, the Town & Country starts at $32,745, the Odyssey at $31,690, and the Routan at $28,075. Even more in its favour, the Toyota offers the lowest city fuel consumption numbers.

The CE may be base, but it’s still nicely outfitted: dual-zone climate control with second-row controls, stereo with auxiliary input, reclining and folding second-row captain’s chairs (replaced with a bench seat if you order the eight-passenger model), power windows, keyless entry, cruise control, tilt and telescopic steering wheel, and the expected safety features: electronic stability control, curtain airbags, front seat side airbags, and a tire pressure monitoring system. Not added to my ride, but available as an option on all models, is a rear-seat DVD entertainment system.

2010 Toyota Sienna CE
2010 Toyota Sienna CE. Click image to enlarge

Moving up to the next level, the $33,990 LE FWD, mostly adds trim: 16-inch alloy wheels instead of the CE’s steel ones, plus fog lamps, power driver’s seat, electronic gauges, garage door opener and metallic dash accents, along with power sliding doors.

No company makes what would be considered a “short-wheelbase” anymore, and while the Sienna is shorter than its competitors, it’s only by a few millimeters: this is a big, roomy vehicle. Fortunately, it doesn’t drive like it. The steering is light and responsive, and at 11.2 metres, its turning circle matches the Odyssey as the tightest of the bunch. That can be an important consideration in a vehicle that, by its nature, will be spending a lot of time in and out of parking spots.

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