Despite their practicality, minivans have have yet to shed their stereotypical image of a soccer mom hauling her kids to practice and are generally viewed as boring vehicles. The 2012 Toyota Sienna, however, dares to challenge these notions and brings some of the much needed "oomph" factor that minivans are in dire need of. So what's all the hype about? Simply put, the 2011 Toyota Sienna brought about a LOT of changes and marked the start of its third generation. It was in fact the first completely redesigned Sienna in seven years. The changes were so significant that, in the eyes of many reviewers, it propelled this vehicle to the top position in its segment.
The 2012 Sienna lets you choose from five different trims namely the base, LE, XLE, Limited and the sporty new SE. As with the 2011 edition, the base and LE models come with a more fuel efficient four-cylinder 1AR-FE engine (although the 3.5-liter 2GR-FE is still available as an option for whom power is important). Toyota expects EPA-estimated mileage figures of 19 mpg city/26 mpg highway for models powered by the 4-cylinder engine, 18 mpg city/24 mpg highway for 2WD V6 models, and 16 mpg city/22 mpg highway for All Wheel Drive (AWD) models - all very reasonable figures for a minivan. Additionally, the Sienna remains the ONLY minivan that offers the All Wheel Drive option. An Electric Power Steering (EPS) system also replaces the hydraulic system that was used in previous generations.
Other improvements starting with the 2011 Sienna include a 6-speed automatic transmission, an optional sliding second row with recliners nicknamed "Lounge Seating" (standard on the XLE AWD and Limited trims), Toyota's keyless Smart Key System with push-button start, and a 16.4-inch split screen Dual View Entertainment Center that can show two programs at once. The interior is roomy and comfortable - cargo space is never an issue. The SE trim is especially slick and features "Altezza" style tail lights, 19-inch alloy wheels, revised steering tuning, and a firmer suspension.
With all these great features, the base 2012 Toyota Sienna starts at around 25K (below the 2010 Toyota Sienna and around $2,000 less than the Honda Odyssey). And oh yeah, the new generation Siennas were NOT among the vehicles affected by Toyota's accelerator recall or the recalls regarding rusting spare tire holders which affected the 1998-2010 model year Siennas. If you are looking to buy a family vehicle, this baby is an absolute must-have on your short list. This may in fact be the best to buy as Toyota is offering some incredible deals to help rebuild its image and dealers are more eager to negotiate on price. As Toyota puts it, "Mommy Like"!
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