Sienna offers five trim levels to choose from: L, LE, SE, XLE, and Limited.
Over a ten day period that covered over a thousand miles of driving, mostly along the Texas Coast, I got to experience the Sienna Limited.
All models have some of the same basic amenities, but the Limited has everything that can be offered in the industry when talking about comfort, agility and travel-attitude in a wagon.
The most commanding item in common is the 3.5 L V6 engine coupled to a 6-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission with gated shift lever and sequential shift mode. Maximum 266 hp and 245 lb-ft of torque are harnessed through sport-tuned suspension and electric power steering for a more direct control feeling.
The Limited has numerous standard features, including premium leather-trimmed seating surfaces, dual moon roof, smart key system, 8-way power driver’s seat, front and rear parking assist, and sliding center console. The console is so deep, you could drop a penny into the console opening and wait ten minutes before it would hit bottom. Well that is a slight exaggeration by about ten minutes, but you get my drift.
The Dual View Rear Seat Blu-ray entertainment center and integrated backup camera with a 180-degree wide angle view, blind spot monitor with rear-cross-traffic alert kept the grandkids quiet for long periods of time as well as helped to ensure their safety when backing up.
We spent several days in Galveston, Texas before moving south along the coast to beautiful Rockport and Fulton. It did rain some, but never impeded our travel or altered our schedule. Our explorations and adventures through the week continued.
Rain-sensing windshield wipers kept our vision clear as HID headlights with the automatic high-beam feature made us comfortable through the showers and slight fog at night.
One of Sienna’s best features was the powered One Touch Split and Stow 3rd row seat. The 3rd row split adapts to your needs. Just push two buttons and the seat folds and retreats into the cargo area storage compartment.
Looking into the back, I thought I was looking west towards the Big Bend area of Texas. But there were no cactus, lizards or canyons in sight; just a vast amount of space for luggage and travel gear to handle all our needs as we journeyed through the lush green foliage landscape and water activities offered along the Texas Coast.
The power liftgate made it so easy to load and unload all the “stuff” with no inconvenience or effort except maybe pushing a single button.
We visited the “Big Tree” at Goose Island State Park near Rockport-Fulton in historic Lamar. In 1969 the “Big Tree” (Coastal Line Oak) was named the oldest living tree in Texas and one of the oldest in America. There is a cedar fence that surrounds the 1,000 year old majestic tree for protection from visitors. The “Big Tree” is 44 feet tall, with a crown spread of 89 feet and a tree circumference just over 35 feet.
Scores of fishing and pleasure boats line the harbor along Fulton Beach Road. Red snapper, black drum, flatheads and numerous other species are caught daily and brought back to the harbor. We boarded a birding boat for adventures in bird watching. All kind of pelicans, teals and even late departing whooping cranes were sighted as they hurried along feasting on blue crabs and swift moving minnows.
The Rockport-Fulton Chamber of Commerce was instrumental in providing suggestions on what to do and see.
The beautiful Inn at Fulton Harbor was our base of operation. Across from the Inn was the Charlotte Plummer Restaurant. We ate there several times, enjoying some of the finest fresh ocean catch anywhere. Best $25 I ever spent for two adults with adult size appetite. For giant helping of crayfish, shrimp and gumbo, all cooked Cajun style using “southern” spices, you might want to stop by Boiling Pot Restaurant on Fulton Beach Road.
Our Sienna waited patiently at each stop. Drawing attention and admiration from the fishermen near the pier and yachting folks preparing for sailing.
The Entune Premium Audio system with a 7-inch touch screen, JBL speakers, and navigation offered excellent music, timely location info and an informative weather reporting system. Many venues could be assessed easily and hands-free with Bluetooth-enabled smart phone leading the way.
While we didn’t need the heated steering wheel, we enjoyed how Toyota has redesigned the gauge clusters. They are large and easily read on the 4.2-inch color Multi-Information Display. In the meanwhile, Adaptive Cruise Control made driving to and from the coast convenient, sometimes with posted speed limits up to 85 mph.
Safety features like rear parking assist, a comprehensive air bags system, and side door beams helped to lessen the fear of any bad things that may happen.
The Sienna was fun to drive, and comfortable, especially in the front seats with great leg room. Sienna was also spacious (7-8 passengers plus luggage) and addressed any technological issues it had to tackle. Road noise was at a minimum and the cabin was cool and quiet even as other cars approached or when passing through construction sites.
Our Sienna averaged 26 mpg on the trip. Recommended Manufacturer’s Price was $47,670.
It was hard to leave the coast with its graceful wildlife, friendly people and great food. The last night of our trip we ate at a restaurant in Fulton on Business Hwy 35 named Stevie Lew BBQ. Now I have eaten some fine BBQ in my lifetime and Texas is known for its BBQ. But this was the finest BBQ I have ever eaten. Fall-off-the-bone pork ribs, links, and beef brisket with all the fixings like beans and potato salad. Then homemade peach ice cream for dessert. Who says the Texas Coast serves only great seafood?
Durhl Caussey writes a car column read around the world. He may be reached at this newspaper or email@example.com