Galveston was the perfect place to visit for the holidays.
We chose the new Sienna to take us away from Dallas for a week of relaxation on the Gulf Coast. Although the traffic in Houston was horrible, the four-hour trip went quickly, quietly, and comfortably. There was no pressure and it was fun driving.
Cargo consisted of several suitcases, a forest of grocery sacks, a large water cooler, a bunch of boxes, and numerous other items. I had a small overnight bag and a shaving kit. Everything else but the water cooler was under the ownership of my beautiful wife JoAnn.
Sienna made no apologies for its more aggressive upper and lower grill openings. Lower side rocker panels connect the front and rear wheel wells to form an exciting profile view that’s made complete with 19-inch alloy wheels.
The cabin features soft-touch seating surfaces with premium stitching while surrounding the occupants with superb technology. The driver is positioned near the 7-inch touchscreen with an easy-to-use climate control interface. The climate control is smart enough to accommodate three different areas at once.
The new Entune 3.0 connected infotainment system supports Apple CarPlay for seamless integration with iOS devices. SiriusXM Satellite Radio greatly expands your entertainment choices on the road.
The Sienna is available with seating space for seven or eight passengers. Since we didn’t need all that passenger space, we just filled the back with all sorts of luggage—mostly items my wife purchased on her shopping sprees. We all need extra cuckoo clocks, hats, dishes, and pantsuits.
The second row had individual captain’s chairs. The head cushions tip up and the seats slide forward to make quick access to the third row.
This minivan is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 direct-injection engine with Toyota’s Direct Shift 8-speed automatic transmission. This powertrain delivers improved fuel economy and power. The intelligent programming of the transmission allows it to shift easily and smoothly through the gears.
Sienna gets an estimated highway mileage of 24 mpg and a city mileage of 18 mpg, for a combined average of 20 mpg.
A standard bundle of safety features is branded by the company as Toyota Safety Sense. These features are designed to protect you and your passengers from harm.
Dynamic Radar Cruise Control implements vehicle-to-vehicle distance control. It adjusts your speed to help you maintain a preset distance from the car in front, so it will automatically slow down if the car ahead is going slower. The technology was put to use repeatedly on Highway 45 South to Houston, making for a much less stressful drive.
Other helpful features like Lane Departure Alert detects lane markings and warns you when it senses you crossing into another lane. Pre-collision System with Pedestrian Detection was most assuring when driving along the Sea Wall in Galveston, where bikers, joggers, and cars compete for the same roadway.
Sienna sits high, giving you great visibility, while the expansive moonroof allows you to count the stars or clouds.
Before journeying home, we took the Bolivar Ferry from the Galveston Island over to the neighboring Bolivar Peninsula. Other passengers on the ferry wanted to ask questions and take a closer look at the new Sienna. We finally had to lock the doors to keep the kids from crawling inside. I got so tired of protecting the car that I left it with my wife. I went to the rear of the ferry and fed the seagulls.
The MSRP starts at $31,115 for the base L model. The range-topping Limited Premium AWD takes the price up to $48,890.
Durhl Caussey writes a car story read around the world. He may be reached at this newspaper or at [email protected].