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  • 2018 Toyota Sienna SE 3.5L

    Posted on August 3rd, 2018 ninarussin

    Versatile interior is ideal for outdoor enthusiasts

    By Nina Russin

    2018 Toyota Sienna

    The same thing that makes minivans great family cars- large configurable interiors- translates to athletes as well. Buyers who need to haul large gear as well as those who might want an interior large enough to sleep in the night before a stage race can’t do better than a minivan.

    The 2018 Toyota Sienna is basically a carryover from the refreshed 2017 car that featured a new, more powerful V-6 engine and eight-speed automatic transmission to boost fuel efficiency. The upscale SE priced from $38,990 (excluding destination) comes loaded with convenience features including leather seating, second row captain’s chairs, three-zone climate control, power liftgate, Entune infotainment with Scout GPS-link for navigation, satellite radio, Bluetooth and Easy Speak: a feature that broadcasts the driver’s voice through the rear speakers.

    Options on the test car include blind spot monitoring with cross traffic alert, push button start, moonroof, premium audio system, iPod compatibility, HD radio, satellite radio, Entune app suite and carpeted floor mats. Final MSRP is $41,150.

    Test drive in Phoenix, Arizona

    Toyota Sienna

    The more complex our lifestyles become, the more important it is for our vehicles to be facilitators: taking us where we need to go safely and efficiently while carrying multiple occupants and large, oddly shaped objects. When monsoon season hits the southwest in mid-July, those of us who are not normally concerned about racking our bikes on the back of whatever we happen to be driving are grateful to have a large cargo bay to transport them out of the weather.

    Not only does the Sienna have a capacious cargo area, it’s also easy to access thanks to the hands-free liftgate and relatively low lift-over height. No time to pop the front wheel off before the torrential rainstorm starts’ No problem if you happen to have a Toyota Sienna at your disposal. You and your carbon fiber bundle of joy can ride out the storm in comfort.

    Can’t decide which bike you want to bring on the road trip that will include both paved roads and dirt trails’ The Sienna will easily hold the road and mountain bikes with plenty of room left over for luggage. The Sienna is unique among minivans in that the car is available with all-wheel drive, giving it better four season performance. All-wheel drive models have four additional inches of ground clearance compared with the front-wheel drive versions so they can travel down unimproved roads pretty-efficiently.

    Toyota Sienna

    The new engine delivers 30 more horsepower than the previous V-6, while the eight-speed automatic transmission boosts highway fuel economy to 27 miles-per-gallon. Average fuel economy according-to the EPA is 22 mpg. The engine’s 263 pound-feet of peak torque translates to good power off the line and in the 20-to-50 mile-per-hour range drivers use merging onto the highway.

    Minivans by nature tend to have large blind spots around the perimeter making a rearview camera and blind spot monitoring more of a necessity than an option. The camera eliminates blind spots around the wide rear pillars and beneath the back glass while blind spot monitoring illuminates LED signals in the side mirrors when vehicles in adjacent lanes pass through the driver’s blind spots.

    Toyota Sienna

    An electric power steering system provides plenty of response at low speeds for maneuverability. On-center response at higher speeds is rather numb, but drivers should feel well connected with the wheels and be-able-to safety perform an emergency evasive maneuver if necessary.

    The suspension consists of independent MacPherson struts up front and a torsion beam with coil springs in the rear. The compact torsion beam is sturdy and takes up minimal space enabling engineers to maximize room in the back of the vehicle. Stabilizer bars on both axles keep the chassis flat in the corners. Four-wheel disc brakes stop the Sienna in firm, linear fashion.

    Upscale interior

    Inside the Sienna delivers all the comforts of a living room on wheels. Third-row seats don’t have the head, hip and legroom of the first two rows but they’re fine for kids or adults on short trips around town. The seats fold into the floor when not in use so as not to impinge on the cargo bay.

    I found the power driver’s seat easy to adjust for a clear forward view. The floor tray in front of the center console is a great place to stash backpacks and computer bags. The center console slides fore and aft so it is accessible to both first and second-row occupants. Second-row seats slide fore and aft to easy access and egress to the back.

    Infotainment controls are easy to reach from either front seating position and intuitive to operate. Standard Entune makes it possible to call for help, including turn-by-turn directions if you happen to get lost and not be in-a-position-to pull over and program the navigation system.

    Standard safety

    The Toyota Sienna comes with eight airbags, antilock brakes, traction control, stability control and Toyota Safety Sense with pedestrian detection: a suite of active safety features including lane departure alert, dynamic radar cruise control, automatic high beams and autonomous braking.

    Toyota builds the Sienna at its Princeton, Indiana assembly plant.

    Like: A well-engineered and well-equipped minivan with available all-wheel drive, improved power and performance thanks to its new engine and transmission.

    Dislike: Rearview camera and blind spot monitoring are only available as part of an expensive option package.

    Quick facts:

    Make: Toyota
    Model: Sienna SE 3.5L
    Year: 2018
    Base price: $38,990
    As tested: $41,150
    Horsepower: 296 HP @ 6600 rpm
    Torque: 263 lbs.-ft. @ 4700 rpm
    Zero-to-sixty: N/A
    Antilock brakes: Standard
    Side curtain airbags: Standard
    First aid kit: N/A
    Bicycle friendly: Yes
    Off-road: No
    Towing: Yes
    Fuel economy: 19/27 mpg city/highway

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