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Toyota Sienna 2014:
Every Soccer Mom's Dream Machine

By Kathy Chin Leong

sienna2014-1.jpgThe new Toyota Sienna  2014 van is every soccer, piano, and math mom's dream machine, and then some. Not only is it well designed for long, extended trips to Disneyworld and beyond, it takes care of the nitty gritty of daily life tasks as well. While other reviews concentrate on handling, fuel injection systems, and the like, I want to discuss what this car means for the everyday driver whose car becomes her friend or enemy.  The car becomes her enemy when things are hard to open, lift, twist, and maneuver.  

The car becomes her friend and ally when everything responds accordingly and is as obedient as her most compliant child. A good car, therefore, must be a compliant car. Let's get the essentials,out of the way. The newest child in the Sienna family starts at a cost of about $27K . It gets about 25 mpg on the highway. Lengthwise, it is over 16.5 feet long and 6.5 feet wide, so do consider whether this guy will fit in your garage. 

Passenger comforts
sienna2014-3.jpgSeating seven or eight, the new Sienna comes with many conveniences designed to make passengers comfortable on long trips.  If you have four or even six children, this car is roomy enough so you don't have to get a full sized van.  If you also have grandma and grandpa living with you or often have to drive others around town as to fill up the seats, you will be so grateful you got this car.  Kids will be might yo comfortable as they have their own temperature controls, air vents,and some models even come with sun shades that are hidden. In the window ledges.  Nice touch!  Of course, this has an optional DVD player which comes in a panoramic screen format, plus headphones which is very convenient.  And the car comes with multiple output and chargers so everyone can find a place to recharge their iPods, cell phones, and video game  units. 

In sharing space with other people, I often choose to ride in the third row of the van just to let others get the better seat and also to see how the experience is for the poor sucker stuck in the back. We all know there is the tendency for car sickness, not enough air, and the being the brunt of the bumps and swerves on the journey. The Sienna is so comfortable that being in the third row is actually not so bad.

A plethora of air conditioning vents for every row let you breathe sparing panic and gives passengers a sense of being in control. The moonroof opens up so you don't feel so claustrophobic.  To add to that,  for passengers get personal reading lights that are able to be activated during the journey with little distraction to the driver.  Lots of leg space for all rows instantly relieves any tensions about a long trip. Well designed entertainment options also makes a long drive not feel so darn long. After all, you have a slew of  Ac adapters and storage wells  for drinks, food and video games. Pay extra for a DVD and you'll get panoramic screens on the second row with headsets that are easy to use. However, you can feel a little car sick watching the movie on curved pathways. Just say in'.

Driver ease of use
sienna2014-2.jpgFor the organizer and packer of the family, here is what is vital. You know how the kids sometimes fight in the back, yes? A bus driver mirror comes with certain models located near the rear view mirror so you don't have to turn your head, and you can see what is happening.

Another great feature is the ability to open the rear hatchback automatically with the press of a button while inside and with your keyless remote when you are heading towards the car. And here is another bonus-  let's say you are grocery shopping. Instead of stacking your bags all willy mildly in the back, the vehicle features a series of hooks on the back of the second and  third rows so you can hang your groceries.  Another nifty feature? When you are packing things in and out of the back, a light comes on to help illuminate the situation. 

Seats are very adjustable on all levels.  The third and second rows can fold down into the well of the car within seconds.  Throw your sports gear and bicycles in the back without worry.  And if you have a third seat in the second row so you can accommodate all eight people, you can detach that same seat and store it in its own car compartment. Brilliant, I say!

Daily conveniences make life that much easier. If the keyless remote is in your purse or pocket, you can simply grasp  the handle, and the door will unlock.  And the car also provides  you plenty of storage areas for your maps, coffee cups, water bottles, and video games.  And how many cars do you know have two glove compartments?  These two are stacked on top of the other seamlessly.  There are so many pockets and niches that the car manual dedicates 18 pages to explaining all the locations. 

And while this car is mighty long, at over 200 inches, it does it well squishing into public parking spaces both in parallel parking like we did in Carmel or in the stalls at parking lots. It provides automatic flip side mirrors, so they can fold at the touch of a button. I do recall in my old van that I really scratched up my driver side mirror when backing out of the garage, so this is a welcome feature.

Like other cars, you can opt for a GPS navigation system. You can also buy a subscription to Safety Connect, Toyota's version of Ford's OnStar. The service offers live 24 hour emergency service with a real person on the line.  Press the SOS button on the rear view mirror button, and someone will come on the line to ask you what you need immediately.

While a big van, the 2014 Sienna is not awkward or clunky, handling like a svelte roadster.  The interior is well tailored. All the switches, flaps, buttons, and handles are ergonomically elegant in design, made to handle the destructiveness of the most rambunctious of children. I believe it is made built to last until the kids get to college, and then some. The sweet Siernna maneuvers like a stealth cat on the road, and doesn't act shy when you increase or decrease speed.  As did its predecessor van, these many comfort touches and upgrades and attention to handling makes this Sienna the best one yet.  


Toyota Sienna 2014
Base price $26,920 to $40,240 top-of-the-line



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