Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Sienna a Versatile Living Room on Wheels

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Sienna a Versatile Living Room on Wheels

Article excerpt

2014 Toyota Sienna LTD AWD: a living room on wheels.

Price: $47,239 as tested. (A budget model can be had for $26,920, it is alleged.)

Conventional wisdom: Edmunds.com likes the "smooth and powerful V6 engine; available all-wheel drive; seven- or eight-passenger seating," not the "lower-grade plastics in cabin."

Marketer's pitch: "Mommy like." The old Swagger Wagon.

Reality: Can you picture yourself driving your living room around?

Final three: The Sienna rounds out three weeks of minivan tests, starting two weeks ago with the handling champion Honda Odyssey, and last week with the bargain-priced but perhaps trouble-prone Chrysler Town and Country.

Family unit: When it's time to load Sturgis Kids 1.0 through 4.0 (now ranging in age from 13 to 22), no other vehicle can match the Sienna.

Six passengers found themselves with plenty of space to spare for their various devices and plenty of room to spread out. And this was just for a trip to town for dinner. Unlike minivans of old - and even more so than the Odyssey and T&C - the Sienna seats were made for grownups. Even the back row was just a bit above the rest.

If you have the cash, that is: Granted, we tested about the top- of-the-line model. The middle row seats expand into chairs worthy of dentists' offices, with footrests and armrests and just the right level of recline. And the middle seats glide back and forth to adjust for legs in the second and third rows.

Storage: The room behind the Sienna rear seats matched the Odyssey. The Town and Country was just a little less than these two but still ample. Two giant glove boxes upfront and a huge console bin keep everything close at hand.

On the road: Like most other large Toyota offerings - the floppy Tundra, the formidable FourRunner - the Sienna is first noted for handling like every cubic inch it holds. It's rather like I'd imagine driving a refrigerator would feel (though its temperature controls are not a problem). I'm not saying it's bad for its size, but it was definitely the most cumbersome of the three.

And I could almost live with it when I rolled back and forth to work on my own. …

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