This past September our family hit the road for a little beach vacation before the colder weather set in. Our minivan is old (2002), unreliable, and has minimal (and I mean MINIMAL) trunk space, so we were all delighted when Toyota agreed to let us try out their 2015 Sienna for the trip. We’re actually in the process of researching minivans so we can purchase a new one for our growing family, so this was also a great opportunity to really see what the Toyota Sienna is all about.
The new Sienna arrived Friday afternoon, we loaded it up (with a LOT of luggage — I mean, when you are traveling to the beach for a week with 3 kids and 2 adults, there’s a lot to take!) and hit the road for a 9 hour drive to Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
Now, for the guys out there, they might care about the size of the engine, the wheels, the transmission — I frankly don’t care about any of those. I want a van that is going to drive well and have some great features to make my life as a mom and driver easier. As a mom, that’s what I care about! Let’s dive right in to talking about all the things I loved about the Sienna.
I’m talking about this first because it made my children extremely happy during the long trip, which in turn, made my husband and I very happy. Nine hours in the car is not easy on a child, but providing them with their favorite Disney movies to watch on a generously sized screen that popped down from the roof of the minivan made a huge difference in their attitude. There was a remote and 2 wireless headsets included, but we let our children listen without the headphones. While the entertainment center might seem like only a perk for the kids, my husband and I noticed 2 added benefits for us. The first is that, after a hard day playing at the beach, when our children would have normally fallen asleep on the way back to our rental house, the movie kept them awake, so bedtime wasn’t affected. The second was that our children, who will usually talk our ears off the entire time we are in a vehicle where quiet while watching their movie. For once, my husband and I could enjoy a nice conversation together while we drove, without a million interruptions.
We added a portable DVD player to the back of the baby‘s chair too, so she could also enjoy watching some of her favorite shows on the road.
So Easy To Use
There were so many features in this van designed to make my life easier. It had an easy push-to-start ignition, automatic sliding doors, automatic trunk door, power windows, built-in navigation, and back-up camera.
This van was loaded with great features. It had lots of cup holders, blind spot monitoring, a sunroof, dual climate control, heated leather seats and all the other features you’d expect to find in a minivan.
In our current van, if you want to take a seat out, you literally have to take it out of the van and it is HEAVY. It’s also a pain to get back into the van. I can’t really do it on my own. With the Sienna, as I mentioned, you can fold the back seats into the trunk space with little effort. Not only that, but you can convert the van from a 7 passenger to an 8 passenger van by simply inserting the spare seat-back between the middle of the 2 middle row seats. Adding/removing the spare seat-back takes less than 30 seconds. Truly, it’s just genius and I love this feature!
We have 3 children in car seats (soon to be 4) so this is an important part about reviewing a minivan for us. The Sienna has 4 LATCH locations and 4 top tether locations. While installing the car seats in the back seat proved to be fairly easy, I was disappointed that, not only were only 2 of the 3 seats LATCH and top tether equipped, but the placement of the top tether anchors seemed a little odd. If you need to install 2 car seats in the back seat and use the top tether for both, it would be impossible to fit another car seat back there (and I have skinny car seats)…it’s also going to be impossible for a third person to sit comfortably in the third row with 2 car sets installed with a top tether, unless they are really really skinny.
If you are only planning to have 4 children (or only 4 in car seats at a time) the Sienna will work just fine for car seats. If you will need to install 5 car seats, then you will probably have a hard time getting them to fit in the Sienna.
As a family planning to probably have more than 4 children, this was the one and only thing about the Sienna I was disappointed with, however for the average American family, this probably won’t be an issue.
One of the main reasons we are getting a new van is because we have no trunk area in our current minivan. I’m serious. Okay, maybe I could get a gallon of milk back there and 2 other grocery bags, but that’s it. I have no idea what the designer were thinking when they made this van but it is not family-friendly! The trunk space in the Sienna was AMAZING. We were able to fit so much in there!
I went grocery shopping when we returned home from vacation and I was able to fit all of the groceries in the trunk with so much room to spare.
You also have the option to fold the back seats flat into the trunk area to make a huge space in the back for hauling cargo….and it’s SO simple!
The Sienna drove like a dream and to be quite honest I was SO sad to see it go. It’s gorgeous inside and out. I do wish they would design the Sienna with all 6 rear seats equipped with LATCH and a top tether, but other than that, I have no complaints about this minivan! It made our family road trip enjoyable and fun for the whole family!
Disclosure: We were provided with a Toyota Sienna to drive at no cost during our week of vacation. All opinions are my own.