?2015 Toyota Sienna SE?
A minivan to be reckoned with
Toyota unveiled their third generation Sienna minivan for 2011 at the 2009 Los Angeles Auto Show, and it has continued to evolve, driving more like a sedan and conforming to the latest thinking in personal comfort, while easily accommodating cargo with a high degree of versatility, and able to handle large loads. The first Toyota Sienna appeared on the scene as a 1998 model, and was based on a stretched and modified Camry platform. It was powered by the same 3.0-liter V6 that powered both the Toyota Camry and Avalon.
The 2015 lineup of the Toyota Sienna will consist of five grades: a base model L FWD; the LE, an SE sport model, the upscale XLE, and the top-of-the-line Limited. There are also Preferred and Premium Packages optionally available that provide specific enhancements for SE, XLE and Limited grades. The standard drive configuration is Front-wheel drive with Toyota?s Active Torque Control All-wheel drive on demand version available ? (the only one in the segment) in LE, XLE and Limited grades. The Toyota Sienna van will accommodate either 7 or 8 passengers, depending upon the seating setup selected, featuring long-slide second row seating. Pricing will range from $28,600 for the L grade FWD to $46,150 for a Limited Premium AWD. The volume leader is expected to be the SE trim level which is base priced at $34,900 and at $39,680 for the Premium version. The Destination, Processing and Handling fee of $885. Is not included.
Powering this latest Toyota Sienna, which Toyota refers to as their ?Swagger Van? is a 3.5-liter DOHC, 24-valve V6 that delivers 266 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm while also generating 245 pound feet of torque @ 4,700 rpm. The V6 mates to a Six-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission with intelligence (ECT-i), a lockup torque converter, and featuring uphill/downhill shift logic. The 4-cylinder engine is no longer available. Towing capacity is 3,500 pounds.
In terms of its visual appearance, the Sienna displays an intriguing and sporty profile with a high and wide shoulder that conceals the side door slider within the window graphic. Fender flares are bold and distinctive, giving emphasis to the wheels. Up front, the face showcases a bold look, with headlamps angled higher than the updated grille. The rear displays sculptural corners that surround the newly designed, jewel-like LED taillights. The early design influence came from Toyota?s F3R show concept vehicle.
Moving to the interior, logic and function remain the key elements, while the instrument panel design showcases a distinctive swept shape that is not only attractive, but creates the impression of increased room for both the driver and front passenger. Seat designs are both sleek and comfortable. The 2015 Toyota Sienna SE delivers a sportier and bolder presence overall, that is also classier and more aerodynamic.
My test Toyota Sienna was a pre-production prototype SE Premium trim FWD model with the 3.5-liter V6, finished in a Salsa Red Pearl metallic outside, with a Black interior. The base sticker read $34,900 while the final total came to an estimated $40,585 after factoring in the Premium level features and $885 Destination and Handling fee along with the SE Premium Package that adds navigation and a rear set entertainment system along with all of the L and LE model?s features included, as well as: smoked headlamps with LED, sport tuned suspension, LED rear combination lamps, 19-inch alloy wheels and tires, a sport mesh grille, perforated leather-trimmed seats (heated front), a 4.2-inch Multi-Information-Display, a sport meter cluster. Other standard fare included: a Touchscreen audio system, Backup camera, Integrated Blind Spot Mirror, Auto on/off headlights, an engine immobilizer
Class leading 8 airbags, AM/FM/MP3 CD player, six speakers, XM Radio (including a 90-day trial subscription); auxiliary audio jack; USB port with iPod connectivity; hands-free phone capability and music streaming via Bluetooth wireless technology; Vacuum Fluorescent Display; and steering wheel audio Toyota?s Entune Audio Plus with a 7-inch touchscreen provides a new level of entertainment connectivity.
SUMMARY: The 2015 Toyota Sienna SE really drives, handles and rides more like a sport sedan than a minivan, thanks to retuned springs and shocks. Even the appearance of the SE grade is a cut above its siblings, with a ground effects kit and lower stance. Added sportiness comes from features such as the smoked headlamp lenses, exclusive mesh grille insert, integrated fog lamps set at a wide angle and the 19-inch six-spoke alloy wheels.
The performance attributes more than matched the aggressive ?Swagger Van? look of the Sienna thanks to the Sport-tuned Electric Power Steering system and revised suspension tuning. Acceleration is brisk for a six-cylinder minivan and the handling genuinely feels like that of a luxury sport sedan. It stays flat through aggressive twists and turns, showing no hint of body roll.
Seating is both comfortable and supportive, the center stack-mounted, gated shifter is conveniently located, and the white-faced analog gauges are well positioned and easy to read, in addition to adding to the sportier flair.
When it was first introduced, Toyota marketing insiders felt that the SE model Sienna would account for roughly only five percent of sales, but the take rate has grown substantially and will continue to do so, since it not only handles better, but looks better as well. Tall people 6?3? or more will want to pay close attention to the liftgate when accessing the rear cargo area, due to its lower overall stance Those in lesser height ranges won?t be affected. Sports oriented females seemed to prefer the sleeker, more aggressive image projected by the SE treatment. In any event, the versatility and functionality provided throughout the entire 2011 Sienna lineup makes for a winning minivan ? one that is sure to infiltrate the ranks of Acura, Honda, Mazda and Chrysler. Paddle shifters and a hill holding feature would make it even that much better.
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?[wptabtitle] SPECIFICATIONS: 2015 Toyota Sienna SE [/wptabtitle]
|Base Price:||$34,900. (SE FWD V6)|
|Price as Tested:||$40,565. (SE Premium V6)|
|Engine Type and Size:||3.5-liter DOHC, 24-valve V6 with VVT-I, electronic fuel injection and electronic Toyota Direct Ignition.|
|Horsepower (bhp):||266 @ 6,200 rpm|
|Torque (ft./ lbs.):||245 @ 4,700 rpm|
|Transmission:||Six-speed electronically controlled automatic (ECT-i) with lockup torque converter with uphill/downhill shift logic.|
|Drive Train:||Transversely mounted front engine / Front-wheel drive or AWD|
Front – Independent MacPherson strut with 1.02-inch stabilizer bar.
Rear – Torsion Beam with 0.79-inch stabilizer bar.
|Brakes:||Power-assisted four-wheel discs (vented front) with ABS, TRAC, enhanced VSC, BA, EBD, VDIM and Hill-start Assist Control.|
|Tires:||Dunlop SP Sport 7000 P235/50R19 mounted on 6-spoke alloy wheels.|
|Length Overall:||200.2 inches|
|Height:||68.9 inches – without roof rails-70.5 w/roof rails.|
|Curb Weight:||4,375-4,560 lbs. (base -Ltd FWD)|
|Fuel Capacity:||20 gallons|
|EPA Mileage Estimates:||18 mpg city / 25 mpg hwy|
|0 – 60 mph:||Not tested|
Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring Journalist and member and past officer of several noted Automotive Journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles as well.