Minivans have always been given the rap of being the antithesis of fun, classy, and exciting. I must admit, I have always thought of and referred to them as boring gas guzzlers whose only purpose was to haul around a plethora of rug rats. So when I was informed the 2015 Toyota Sienna was on my docket to review, all I could think of was pictures of ‘minivan moms’ wearing ‘mom jeans’. To a single woman with no kids (who bucks the proverbial ‘female’ stereotypes) I must admit, driving a minivan while trying to relate it to mom’s and dad’s would be way out of my element.
Upon the vans arrival, I decided that I would be the anti-minivan mom pretending to be a fun minivan mom. Instead, as it turns out I just had fun driving and exploring how much the vehicle had to offer. To begin my journey of van reviewing, I volunteered to drive some girlfriends to/from a birthday dinner which was held at Dallas’ ever popular restaurant and venue The Rustic. Before I took on passengers though I wanted to get to know all that the Toyota Sienna had to offer.
For starters the tested model was a Sienna Limited Premium which featured a 3.5L 24-valve V6 – the engine had immediate response when accelerating while the handling felt more like a Mid to Full Sized vehicle. My first faux pas was expecting it to drive, feel, and respond like a tank – there-in was my first mistake. Instead, the vehicle was smooth while the suspension drastically muffled some of the worst potholes DFW has to offer.
The ride in city and highway was always comfortable especially with the Limited Premium’s high grade leather seating. The van holds seven passengers and the second (of the three rows) featured all of the fun the van had to offer. The ‘fun’ row consisted of two captains seats which not only reclined but featured full leg rests and up-close viewing of the van’s awesome 17.5″ long LCD screen with remote. Both second and third rows were fully powered for easy reclining and folding – gone are the days of wrestling with seat and row adjusting.
On the eve of ‘Girls Night’ I picked up my friends and loaded them in through both sides of the van (which are fully powered on both sides). Once everyone was in we opened up the amazingly long sunroof and headed downtown chatting all the way. One of the coolest features the Sienna has to offer is one which makes chatting from driver’s seat to third row a lot less stressful. I called it the ‘Speak Easy’ system but it’s correct name is ‘Easy Speak’. With the pressing of a single button (located on the steering wheel), one has a mini-intercom of sorts. This was the first time I had heard of this feature and thought wow – the minivan has certainly evolved!
Driving to The Rustic was a hoot. A few passengers watched a movie on the big screen, and the the rest of us joked about popping in the movie Magic Mike (into the DVD/Blue-ray system). The Sienna’s infotainment was entertaining enough, especially with a 10-speaker JBL which had a wide range of volume and great sound. The infotainment also included Bluetooth, XM, and Entune® which is easy to use, includes navigation, and features a very clear back-up camera with steering guides.
By the time we arrived at the restaurant the second row passengers were fully reclined in their captain’s chairs and chilled. The birthday girl even remarked that the Sienna was, “one of the classiest” vehicles she’s ever been in. As a matter of fact, US News & World Report ranked the 2015 Sienna as, “having one of the nicest interiors in the segment”, and ranked the Sienna as the second top minivan for 2015.
In conclusion, the 2015 Toyota Sienna showed me a thing or two while shining a very bright spotlight on a few of my faults. Which are that I was the biggest stereotyping hypocrite when it came to minivans and those who drive them.
To me the ‘minivan mom’ stigma is now an urban legend, and the 2015 Toyota Sienna showed me the error of my ways..