2011 Toyota Sienna Review and Prices
- Only the "sporty" SE model provides involving road manners
- Top-line versions get pricey and all-wheel-drive models ride stiffly
- Second-row seats don't stow or swivel, and removing them requires muscle
The 2011 Toyota Sienna is the best minivan for you if you regard Toyota as a member of the family and you want the newest version of a great family vehicle.
The 2011 Toyota Sienna is the first all-new Sienna in more than seven years. It replaces the 2004-2010 Sienna and gets expressive new styling, more interior room, and additional safety features. It’s also available with ottoman-style reclining bucket seats and a 16.4-inch widescreen video display. Better fuel economy is on tap thanks to a newly available four-cylinder engine. It joins the carried-over V-6, itself more fuel-efficient for 2011. The 2011 Sienna remains the only minivan available with all-wheel drive. Note that neither the 2004-2010 Sienna nor the redesigned 2011 Sienna were among Toyotas subject to safety recalls for unintended acceleration. In fact, the 2011 Sienna is the first Toyota with an electronic override that in effect disengages the throttle when the driver depresses the brake pedal.
Should you buy a 2011 Toyota Sienna or wait for the 2012 Toyota Sienna? Buy a 2011 Sienna. Chances the 2012 Sienna would change enough to warrant waiting are remote. Buying a 2011 Sienna will get you a minivan with the technology, styling, and features that’ll remain fresh well into the decade.
2011 Toyota Sienna Changes back to top
Styling: The redesigned 2011 Toyota Sienna kicks off the third-generation of this minivan and Toyota dumps a boring, lozenge shape for sculpted curves and a more solid stance on the road.
The 2011 Sienna’s styling wisely takes cues from Toyota’s best-looking vehicle, the 2011 Toyota Venza crossover SUV. Both in fact are products of Toyota’s young-thinking California design studio. Sienna’s new face is defined by a multi-blade grille and headlamps that sweep back into the fenders. Swelled wheel arches help it look hunkered down over its larger new tires; the only other minivan to suggest such athleticism is the Honda Odyssey -- and it’s due for a model-year 2011 redesign, as well.
Despite the new styling, the 2011 Toyota Sienna’s exterior dimensions change little. The body has about an inch less length and about an inch more width. Height is the same, though the new sheet metal creates the welcome impression of a lower roofline. Also unaltered is the key metric: the wheelbase. This distance between the front and rear axles is a prime determinate in how much space a vehicle can allot for passenger room.
Despite no increase in wheelbase, the 2011 Sienna’s reshaped body lengthens usable interior space by about two inches. The 2011 Sienna again matches the Odyssey as one of only two minivans that can seat eight. It also comes in a seven-passenger configuration. For 2011, Sienna’s seats slide fore and aft over a greater span to allow for more leg room in all rows. The gearshift again sprouts from the dashboard just right of the steering wheel.
The 2011 Toyota Sienna lineup returns with a base trim level and ascends to the popular LE model, luxury XLE version, and the top-of-the-line Limited. It also adds a fifth model – the SE, for Sport Edition. The 2011 Toyota Sienna SE is visually distinguished from other Siennas by a more aggressive grille appearance, lower side skirting, smoked-lens taillamps, and unique instrumentation and interior trim.
Mechanical: By adding the alternative of a four-cylinder engine, the 2011 Toyota Sienna is the first minivan in years to stray from the V-6-engine-only formula. Luckily, the four-cylinder powertrain is a good one: the same 187-horsepower 2.7-liter and six-speed automatic transmission that provides likeable performance in the Venza. In the 2011 Sienna, however, it’s saddled with several hundred additional pounds of vehicle weight.
The four-cylinder is available in the 2011 Sienna base and LE models. The V-6 is available at extra cost in those models and is standard in the 2011 Sienna SE, XLE, and Limited. This 3.5-liter V-6 is a slightly revised version of the one in the second-generation Sienna. It’s rated at 266 horsepower, one more than before, but now works through a more efficient automatic transmission with six speeds instead of five. V-6 Siennas can pull trailers weighing up to 3,500 pounds.
Sienna returns with front-wheel drive, the layout used in all minivans. This locates powertrain components in the nose for compact packaging and concentrates their weight over the tires that propel the vehicle, which enhances wet-surface traction. Sienna, however, repeats as the only minivan to also offer the added security of all-wheel drive (AWD). The 2011 Sienna’s AWD system is not intended for off-roading. Instead, it senses tire slip and automatically shuffles power between the front and rear wheels to optimize grip. It does not change ride height or external appearance. AWD is available on the 2011 Sienna LE V-6 model and on XLE and Limited trim levels.
Every Sienna comes with Toyota’s Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) system, which is enhanced for 2011 to coordinate the response of the antilock brake system (ABS), traction control, and electric power steering in an emergency maneuver. Optional on the 2011 Sienna Limited model is Toyota’s new Vehicle Dynamic Integrated Management. This is designed to anticipate an impending collision and respond by cinching seatbelts and triggering early VSC engagement. All 2011 Siennas come with alloy wheels. Base models and front-wheel-drive LE and XLE models have 17-inch tires. Limited and AWD models have 18s.The 2011 Sienna SE has 19-inch wheels and tires that compliment a lowered, sport-tuned suspension.
Features: The 2011 Toyota Sienna doesn’t answer the Dodge Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country by adding the interior versatility of second-row seats that stow in the floor (though those rivals lose their table-and-chairs arrangement for model-year 2011). But Toyota goes every rival one better by equipping the 2011 Sienna Limited with what it calls Lounge Seating. This is a pair of second-row buckets that recline into La-Z-Boy thrones complete with pop-out leg rests.
All Sienna second-row buckets have dual armrests and a full 23 inches of travel, allowing them to slide rearward for better leg room or move closer to the front seats for child-tending. Eight-passenger models accommodate a middle rider in the second row with a central seat section that can be removed and stowed in the rear; doing so reveals a cupholder and storage tray. The 2011 Sienna XLE AWD and Limited models come with an illuminated center console that slides to serve both the first- and second-row seats.
Sienna’s third-row is a 60/40 split bench and Toyota says there’s room for five golf bags behind it. The third-row folds into a floor well (with power operation on front-drive Limited models) and the second-row seats can be removed. Among notable features is Toyota’s new Dual View Entertainment Center option. It boasts a video display that folds from the ceiling behind the first-row seats to create a seamless 16.4-inch widescreen image from a single source. It can also display input from separate sources – say individual DVDs or a movie and a video game. Also of note is a new-to-Toyota Panorama Camera rear monitor that displays on the navigation screen. It can provide a 180-degree wide-angle view to the rear and includes on-screen back-up guides to help drivers reverse from parking spots or driveways.
All 2011 Siennas come with torso-protecting front side airbags, head-protecting curtain side airbags for all three seating rows, and a new driver’s side knee airbag. Toyota’s latest Safety Connect telematics system is standard on the 2011 Sienna Limited and optional on the XLE. It offers automatic collision notification, stolen vehicle location, an emergency assistance button, and roadside assistance; a complimentary one-year trial subscription is included.
2011 Toyota Sienna Test Drive back to top
From behind the wheel: The eye-opener here is that the four-cylinder engine is an acceptable choice providing you seldom saddle your Sienna with the weight of an adult in every seat and rarely tackle mountain ascents. Helped enormously by the six-speed automatic transmission’s exceptional ability to find the right gear for most any driving situation, the four-cylinder has just enough power to get you around town and up to highway speed without undue strain. The more muscular V-6 standard in most Sienna models is the choice for stress-free acceleration, though it, too, relies on the astute-shifting six-speed for much of its verve. Minivan drivers who take advantage of an automatic transmission’s manual-shift capability are rare, but we’re particularly fond of this gear lever’s inviting proximity to the steering wheel and its short-throw toggle action.
Every Sienna ambles up the Interstate with admirable directional stability – no small consideration on a long family vacation. And estimable low-speed maneuverability gets you out of the mall and into your driveway in fine fashion.
Only the handling-calibrated SE model rewards the perceptive driver when the road turns curvy, though. Truly quick changes of direction make any Sienna seem a bit top-heavy, but the SE steers sharply where other Siennas feel syrupy. It better resists noseplow going into turns and minimizes body lean pulling through them. Overall, the SE is the only 2011 Sienna model that has better road manners than competing versions of Chrysler Town & Country, Dodge Grand Caravan, and Honda Odyssey. Toyota does merit special praise for the confidence-inspiring stopping power – and easy-to-modulate pedal action – built into each 2011 Sienna model.
Dashboard and controls: The 2011 Sienna’s all-new dashboard puts vital controls within easy access of the front-seat passenger. That makes some of them a difficult reach for the driver, but in minivan-world, a “vital” control is one for the climate and entertainment system and “front-seat passenger” translates to co-pilot. Indeed, some buttons for heating and air conditioning extend to the dashboard’s right-of-center. And items like the iPod ports and DVD head unit are mounted far below the driver’s normal line of sight – but not that of a dutifully co-pilot.
Dispersed they may be but the various buttons, knobs, and dials are logically organized, clearly identified, and crisply illuminated. The navigation screen is sizable, its mapping and function icons sharply defined. It is, however, best programmed via touch-screen inputs unless you relish trading barbs with the frustratingly obtuse voice-recognition software. The backup camera is helpful, but its wide-angle view has too much fisheye distortion to gain your full trust if little ones on Big Wheels are about.
Room, comfort, and utility: All three seating rows accommodate grownup-sized folks with supportive cushioning and fine room. Third-row lodging is the least commodious for those over 5-foot 8 or so (though the seatback reclines as a comfort bonus). Sienna’s second row is particularly welcoming, especially if you’re in a Limited model with those La-Z-Boy loungers. Taking full advantage of their footrest-deployed recline, however, means sliding them far enough rearward to virtually eliminate knee clearance for anyone sitting behind in the third row.
Ride comfort depends on the model: it’s impressively absorbent except for the occasional abrupt reaction to bumps in the SE model and the intrusive thumping over pavement strips and potholes in AWD versions. In the SE, blame its taut suspension tuning and handling-oriented tires. In AWD models, fault the stiff sidewalls of the run-flat tires. All 2011 Siennas are free from bobbing or float when the pavement gets wavy – another vital asset on a long family trip. Noise levels won’t disrupt conversation, though the four-cylinder can become raspy during wide-open throttle and the AWD run-flats roar over coarse surfaces. Depending on the speed and direction with which you confront the wind, you may find the rustle and whistle from around the windshield wipers intrusive.
Toyota isn’t fibbing about the five-golf-bag volume of the cargo hold behind the third-row seats; there’s space enough there for a vacationing family’s belongings. Those seats are smartly counterbalanced to pivot into the rear well with minimal effort, aided by a large release handles that furnish lots of leverage. Cargo volume seems to expand exponentially as you flip and fold the second and third rows, and while the second-row seats unlatch simply enough, actually removing them is a cumbersome two-person task. As for interior storage, there are enough bins, crannies, cubbies, and beverage holders to dizzy a pack rat.
2011 Toyota Sienna Prices back to top
Base price range for the 2011 Toyota Sienna is $25,450-$40,780. These prices are actually the second issued for the 2011 Sienna since its initial introduction and they represent an increase of $200 over the initial model-year 2011 prices. (Base prices in this review include the manufacturer’s destination fees; Toyota’s fee for the 2011 Sienna is $810.) The $25,450 starting price is for the base model with the four-cylinder engine. By contrast, the $25,340 starting price of the 2010 Sienna included the V-6 engine. The least-expensive 2011 Sienna V-6 model starts at $26,510, which is competitive with V-6 versions of rival minivans.
The 2011 Toyota Sienna base model starts at $25,450 with the four-cylinder engine. The 2011 Toyota Sienna LE is priced from $26,355 with the four-cylinder engine. Standard features on the 2011 Sienna base model and on the four-cylinder LE include cruise control, tri-zone air conditioning, power windows with automatic up/down in the front doors and the sliding side doors, AM/FM CD player with four speakers, auxiliary iPod jack, power door locks, remote keyless entry, and three 12-volt power outlets.
The 2011 Toyota Sienna base model is priced from $26,510 with the V-6. Base price for the 2011 Toyota Sienna LE V-6 front-wheel-drive model is $29,960 with seven-passenger seating and $29,910 with eight-passenger seating. With AWD, the 2011 Sienna LE V-6 starts at $32,140 and comes only with seating for seven.
The LE V-6 model shapes up as the best value in the 2011 Sienna line, adding as standard such minivan essentials as dual power-sliding doors and a power liftgate, rearview backup camera that displays on the inside mirror, and rear window sunshades. It also has a power driver’s seat with power lumbar support and an electrochromatic rearview mirror with Homelink automatic garage-door control. The audio system on the 2011 Sienna LE V-6 adds USB iPod connectivity, Bluetooth hands-free cell phone and music streaming, and steering wheel audio controls. The LE V-6’s standard features can be added to the four-cylinder LE model as an option package.
The 2011 Toyota Sienna SE model is positioned between the LE and XLE. It basically builds on LE V-6 equipment by adding the sporty exterior and interior trim, the handling-tuned suspension, and the larger wheels and tires. Starting price for the 2011 Toyota Sienna SE is $31,560.
The 2011 Toyota Sienna XLE is priced from $34,690 with front-wheel drive and seating for seven and from $33,185 with seating for eight. The 2011 Sienna XLE AWD starts at $35,525 and comes only with seven seats.
The 2011 Sienna XLE’s standard equipment includes leather upholstery, heated front seats, a power moonroof, an anti-theft system with engine immobilizer, and remote keyless entry. Among XLE options is a 10-speaker JBL sound system, a voice-activated DVD navigation system with real-time traffic, the Panorama rear camera, and Dual View Entertainment.
The 2011 Toyota Sienna Limited starts at $39,510 with front-wheel drive and $40,780 with AWD. The Limited includes all the XLE stuff, plus standard Lounge Seating and the power third-row seat. It also includes front and rear parking sonar, dual moonroof panels, and keyless pushbutton ignition. Select options for the Limited include those available on the XLE, plus xenon headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, and the Vehicle Dynamic Integrated Management system; this last incorporates dynamic radar cruise control that maintains a set distance from traffic ahead.
2011 Toyota Sienna Fuel Economy back to top
Thanks to its four-cylinder engine, the 2011 Toyota Sienna boasts the highest fuel economy ratings for any seven- or eight-passenger minivan. The four-cylinder 2011 Sienna carries EPA estimates of 19/26 mpg (city/highway).
The 2011 Sienna with the V-6 rates 18/24 mpg with front-wheel drive and 16//22 with AWD. By comparison, the 2010 Toyota Sienna with the same 3.5-liter V-6 was rated at 17/23 mpg with front-wheel drive and 16/21 with AWD.
Note the modest difference in estimated fuel economy between the 2011 Sienna four-cylinder models and the front-wheel-drive V-6 versions. In practice, the four-cylinder Sienna may in fact prove less fuel-efficient than the V-6 because the smaller engine will have to work harder to provide similar performance. This suggests the principal savings with the four-cylinder will come from its lower initial purchase price.
2011 Toyota Sienna Safety and Reliability back to top
Government crash-test ratings for 2011 models had not been released at the time of this review. The ratings award up to five stars for occupant protection in frontal and side collisions (www.safercar.gov). However, Toyota says it expects the 2011 Sienna to earn the maximum five stars in every test category. With four stars, the 2010 Toyota Sienna was the only minivan that failed to score the full five stars for driver protection in a frontal impact. It did earn five stars for passenger protection in a frontal impact and for both front- and rear-occupant protection in side impacts.
Toyota’s traditionally strong reputation for reliability was tarnished by the unintended-acceleration safety recalls and by the way the company handled them. J.D. Power and Associates, the leading automotive consumer-survey firm (jdpower.com), continues to rank the Toyota brand slightly above the industry average in overall initial quality in the first 90 days of ownership. It ranks the Toyota brand “better than most” for dependability in surveys measuring problems experienced by original owners of three-year old (2007 model year) vehicles.
The 2011 Toyota Sienna is too new to be included in J.D. Power surveys of initial quality or long-term dependability. However, the previous-generation Sienna was the highest-ranked minivan in J.D. Power’s survey of overall initial quality. For overall dependability in surveys of original owners of three-year-old models, the 2006 Toyota Sienna ranked about average.
2011 Toyota Sienna Release Date back to top
The 2011 Toyota Sienna went on sale in February 2010.
What's next for the 2011 Toyota Sienna back to top
The third-generation Toyota Sienna should go several seasons with only minor equipment juggling and perhaps some new colors before getting a mid-cycle facelift around model-year 2015. That should bring subtle styling changes that would sustain it until its next full redesign, probably for model-year 2018.
In the shorter term, look for periodic powertrain tweaks aimed at modest improvements in fuel economy. One avenue Toyota hasn’t explored is the sort of cylinder-shut-off technology Honda has been using in a version of the Odyssey’s V-6. This saves fuel by automatically shutting down two or three cylinders during low-demand cruising, then instantly restarting them when needed.
The biggest mechanical news for the Sienna would be introduction of a gas-electric hybrid model. Toyota has pledged that each of its vehicle lines will offer a hybrid model by 2020 or so. Given its large size, Sienna would likely need a version of the gas-electric V-6 system found in the Toyota Highlander midsize crossover SUV. It’s strong and smooth and in the Highlander rates some 270 horsepower and 27/25 mpg (city/highway) in a vehicle several hundred pounds lighter than the Sienna. But it’s a premium powertrain and would be a pricey addition to the Sienna lineup; the Highlander Hybrid is the most expensive model in that lineup with a starting price around $36,000.
2011 Toyota Sienna Competition back to top
2011 Honda Odyssey: Sienna’s archrival for refinement and quality, Odyssey has also been the minivan-class leader for road manners. It too is fully redesigned for model-year 2011, replacing an Odyssey generation that dates to 2005. The 2011 Odyssey gets all-new styling marked by a zig-zag window-sill line, a raked-back windshield, and a tapered rear roofline. It retains front-wheel drive and seating for up to eight. The only engine is a 248-horsepower V-6 rated a class-leading 19/28 mpg in top-line models with the six-speed automatic transmission; those with the five-speed automatic rate 18/27. Price range is $28,580-$44,030, with no factory options available.
2011 Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan: Boxy benchmarks for value and features. Good owner loyalty, too, despite trailing Honda and Toyota for reliability and resale value. That’s offset by aggressive pricing. Grand Caravan and Town & Country are the same vans except for trim and packaging details and both are extensively updated for model-year 2011. Changes include revised styling, a revamped cabin, and shelving of three aged V-6s in exchange for one – the new corporate Pentastar 3.6-liter, here rated at a minivan-class-topping 283 horsepower. Notable features include wonderfully versatile fold-into-the-floor Stow ’n Go second-row seating, though the table-and-chairs Swivel ’n Go is discontinued. Fuel economy is 17/25 mpg, base price range roughly $26,000-$36,000.
2011 Ford Flex: Refuse to be seen in a minivan? Consider this roomy crossover wagon that puts three rows of seats and good cargo room in a lower-slung body with conventional side doors. It’s a 21st century Country Squire – except it’s available with all-wheel drive and a rowdy 355-horsepower twin-turbo V-6. Handling beats that of any minivan, and aside from the additional volume afforded by a tall room, cargo capacity should suit any reasonable everyday need. Base price range is roughly $31,000-$46,000. No big changes are expected before model-year 2013.