I’ve never been a big fan of minivans, but I think my view has been changed, thanks to the 2013 Toyota Sienna. I had an opportunity to drive one on December 5, and was left with something I haven’t felt in a long time: the satisfaction of driving a good quality vehicle that I would actually recommend. This minivan drives and feels like a solid, top-notch luxury car. It has a tight suspension that absorbs all road conditions like a sponge.
Inside, it features beautiful seats which are both soft and comfortably firm, and the electric controls include a wonderful lumbar support. There is a good supply of cup holders for all passengers, and the power accessories are conveniently located and easy to use. The quirky automatic transmission shifter is mounted on the dash and uses a Mercedes Benz-type “S” shaped pattern with each gear locking in place easily, with the gear symbols conveniently located next to the shifter and an additional small digital display in the dash’s center showing “P”, “D”, etc.
The dashboard is logically laid out and everything is readily visible to the driver, unlike the Dodge Grand Caravan I also test drove around the same time (see review elsewhere on this site). The climate controls are easily understood and the inside and outside temperatures are displayed on a small but extremely sharp screen that when you shift into reverse gives you the view from the back-up camera. Also appearing on this screen in the upper center of the dash is a constant message reminding you of how many miles you can drive until you’re out of gas.
The V6 engine is peppy and feels like a V8 when you step on the gas, even though it sips petrol most economically. In spite of its overall length, this baby will turn on a dime and give you back a nickel change. A final note about the superb sound system: it gives you the number of the station you’ve tuned in, then flashes the station’s name, the artist’s name and song title. Very handy if you don’t know the song’s name.
Among the other goodies you’ll find are a number of charging outlets and a special USB connector you can use to charge or play your computer, MP3 player, or phone. Speaking of phones, the Sienna has a Bluetooth phone control on the steering wheel’s right side, a perfect match to the radio/CD controls on the left side. The rear view mirror has a built-in compass and garage door opener.
With seating for eight, this minivan can handle the whole family in comfort. To paraphrase the world’s most interesting man, I don’t always drive minivans, but when I do, I prefer the Toyota Sienna. I gave it five out of five tomahawks.