2011 Toyota Sienna Limited
2011 Toyota Sienna Limited. Click image to enlarge

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Review and photos by Greg Wilson

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2011 Toyota Sienna

Victoria, British Columbia – Now into its third generation, the redesigned Toyota Sienna minivan arrives as a 2011 model with all-new styling, a completely redesigned interior, more interior room, more comfortable seats, easier interior access, more features – and notably, sportier handling. As well, there’s a new base four-cylinder model that’s priced $1,600 lower than the base 2010 Sienna V6, and a new SE (Sport Edition) trim with a stiffer suspension, 19-inch tires, and sporty styling add-ons. The new Sienna is still the only minivan available with optional all-wheel drive.

2011 Toyota Sienna base four-cylinder
2011 Toyota Sienna SE V6
2011 Toyota Sienna base four-cylinder (top) and 2011 Toyota Sienna SE V6. Click image to enlarge

At the 2011 Sienna’s introduction to Canadian media in Victoria, British Columbia, Chief Engineer, Kazuo Mori, explained his objectives for the new Sienna: “I wanted to create, in the new Sienna, a minivan for people who like cars. Minivans are typically parked next to many different types of cars in a driveway or garage. Luxury sedans… sports coupes… you name it. Owners purchased these cars for the passion they inspire. I thought, ‘Why not make a minivan that gives them the same passion.’ ”

This passion is most evident in the new Sienna SE model which features 19-inch low-profile tires and alloys, a sport-tuned suspension, sport-tuned electric steering, unique front & rear bumpers and side skirts, smoked head lamps and tail lights, and a sportier interior with unique gauges and sport fabric seats with leatherette trim. While it’s difficult to make a large, bulky vehicle like the Sienna look sporty, there is a sort of hulking menace to the SE model, and I can confirm that the SE is definitely more fun to drive than most minivans.

Other 2011 Sienna models have also benefitted from its wider track (front +53.3 mm/rear +20.3 mm), resulting in improved handling and stability. As well, the new Sienna has a more aerodynamic body (0.30 cd) which includes an under-body aerodynamic cover to smooth air flow, a rear spoiler with hideaway wiper, privacy glass, standard 17-inch alloy wheels, and projector beam headlamps.

Compared to the 2010 Sienna, the 2011 Sienna’s length has been reduced by 20.3 mm (0.8 inches) but its overall width has increased by 20.3 mm (0.8 inches) and its height has increased 45.7 mm (1.8 in.). The wheelbase is unchanged. The redesign has produced a more spacious cabin that is longer by 38 mm (1.5 in.) and wider by 30 mm (1.2 in.) for front passengers.

2011 Toyota Sienna SE V6
2011 Toyota Sienna base four-cylinder
2011 Toyota Sienna Limited
2011 Toyota Sienna Limited
2011 Toyota Sienna Limited
2011 Toyota Sienna SE V6 (top); 2011 Toyota Sienna base four-cylinder; 2011 Toyota Sienna Limited; removable second-row centre seat; 2011 Toyota Sienna Limited. Click image to enlarge

The 2011 Sienna’s completely new interior was designed by Benjamin Jimenez, a native of Burlington, Ontario, who also did the interior of the 2009 Venza and the 2008 Avalon.

Innovative new features include second-row captain’s chairs that fold up, clamshell-like, to allow third row passengers easier access. These seats can also be removed completely from the van without tools. While Toyota considered hideaway second-row seats, like Chrysler’s Stow-n-go seats, they decided that the sacrifice in seating comfort wasn’t worth the extra utility.

Also new is an easy-clean seat fabric that should prove popular with parents of young children, and new tri-zone automatic climate control that gives rear passengers the benefit of automatic temperature control.

Perhaps the most interesting new feature is the second-row Lounge chairs (available in the top of the line Limited model) which recline fully with a retractable “ottoman” foot support, a la Lazy Boy. Available in the top-of-the-line Limited model, these recliners allow you to sit back with your beverage and relax while watching a movie on the Sienna’s new extra-wide video screen (416 mm/16.4 in.) which folds down above the second row. Its split-screen technology enables rear passengers to watch two different videos on the same screen using the Sienna’s DVD player for one video, and a portable DVD player for the second video. Rear passengers also get two wireless headsets, USB and 12 volt outlets. Videos can also be played on the front navigation screen when the Sienna is in Park and the parking brake is set.

2011 Siennas are still available with seven or eight-passenger seating; the latter includes a new removeable second-row centre seat that stores in a cavity on the left side of the cargo area when not in use. It’s a lightweight seat that’s easy to snap into place when you need an extra seat. When it’s not there, a small tray between the seats include two cupholders, and it’s low enough that you can walk through between the seats.

The Sienna’s sliding side door openings have been increased by 50 mm (2 in.), making it much easier to slide into the third row. As well, a special indentation in the door opening at head height helps prevent head bumps. To make it even easier, some models are equipped with power sliding rear doors and a power rear hatch.

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