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#2612739 - 04/29/12 08:49 AM 2012 Toyota Sienna XLE FWD-Initial Review
Indydriver Offline


Registered: 03/20/11
Posts: 1297
Loc: Indiana
Finally took delivery this past Thursday. The van was built one week earlier at Toyota's Princeton, Indiana plant. We have raised our family in two Chrysler minivans over the last 22 years and even though the kids are grown and gone, my wife, who will be the daily driver, felt most comfortable sticking with this type vehicle. My primary interest is as an interstate hauler as this vehicle will be our long distance traveler for the next several years.

We zeroed in on the Toyota model pretty quickly. We both felt it is the best looking of the various minivan offerings. We did not seriously consider its primary competitor, the Honda Odyssey because I don't have much faith in their VCM V6 and I've read about a lot of transmission woes plus the wife's initial reaction to it's styling was, "it looks like a hearse". So, that was that. We did test drive the Chrysler out of respect for their service over the prior two decades but just didn't take to the interior as quickly, didn't really care for the styling and didn't feel it drove as well as the FWD Toy.

Within the Sienna line, we focused on the XLE trim level which is pretty complete: leather, sunroof, power doors all around, and up-to-date audio, XM and Bluetooth handsfree phone and music capability. We did test drive AWD vs FWD and found them to be dramatically different. For $2300, AWD brings you a FWD biased system that apportions torque to the rear as it senses slippage. It adds 230 pounds and subtracts 2 mpg as well as your spare tire due to the drive shaft bisecting the rear floor space. The consequence of this design choice is Run Flat Tires. The OE Bridgestones list for $280 on Tire Rack before freight, tax and road hazard and worse, they weigh 7 pounds (25%) more than the FWD tires. This is a lot of additional unsprung weight and it has a noticeable impact on ride and handling. We found the AWD van to ride very soft, handle sluggishly and at least the one we drove gave me a noticeable shimmy traversing some pavement ripples accelerating up an interstate ramp. OTOH, in comparison, the FWD model felt 'light on it's feet'. The suspension has a firm but compliant feel-just what I'm looking for in a vehicle of this type. The steering is super light and takes some getting used to at parking lot speeds but is very communicative and accurate at driving speeds. The a Toyota V6 is very responsive and powerful and is well matched to a smooth six speed transmission. Our silver example has perfect paint and all body panel gaps are well aligned and consistently spaced. The interior is rattle-free, so kudos to the men and women on the assembly line. The seats are simply fantastic. In fact, we noticed this at the auto show last winter and remembered the Sienna's seats as the most comfortable of any vehicle at the show. The van drives beautifully and although I've only driven in the dry, the OE Firestone FR710 tires ($115 at TR) seem to ride just fine with adequate traction for this class of vehicle. It was an easy decision to forego AWD knowing that we can always upgrade winter traction for half the cost (and none of the design compromises) with a second set of wheels with Blizzaks.

In summary, both the wife and I are thrilled with the Sienna XLE FWD. The local dealers are willing to sell these vans at or a few hundred below invoice and we got a fair deal on our mostly used up 12 yo trade. All-in-all, Toyota has a couple of new and very satisfied customers. We highly recommend the FWD Sienna to those who may be shopping for a minivan.


Edited by Indydriver (04/29/12 09:03 AM)
_________________________
2014 Camaro 2SS/RS LS3 Vert Dexos1 3500
2012 Sienna XLE 30,000 0W-20 TGMO
2011 Accord V6 30,000 0W-20 TGMO
2004 Intrepid 100,000 PP 5W-30

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#2612749 - 04/29/12 09:03 AM Re: 2012 Toyota Sienna XLE FWD-Initial Review [Re: Indydriver]
JHZR2 Offline



Registered: 12/14/02
Posts: 33778
Loc: New Jersey
Good review. Agree on the comments vs the odessey - not sure what Honda was thinking, given that IMO the odessey was one of the best looking vans on the road previously.

Wish the sienna was RWD like the previa. Really have zero comlplaints with our previa.

Did you test drive a 4-cyl sienna? If I was buying one, the 4cyl would likely be my target vehicle for simplicity and easier maintenance. The bum thing is that the fuel economy on the sienna isnt up to par of other vans.

Hopefully you can report some real world economy numbers to us!

And a picture!

Good luck with it.

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#2612763 - 04/29/12 09:18 AM Re: 2012 Toyota Sienna XLE FWD-Initial Review [Re: Indydriver]
Indydriver Offline


Registered: 03/20/11
Posts: 1297
Loc: Indiana
Thanks. We did not test drive or seriously consider the 4 cyl. There is no real mpg advantage and I could see it really struggling with this size vehicle loaded down in the mountains. Around town and unloaded, I'm sure it's fine. It also gets the six speed tranny which really makes a big difference in the overall smoothness of the drivetrain. I am fortunate to be in a financial position where I can prioritize performance over mileage.

A couple of other notes: Toyota direct mailed me a coupon for a $50 Visa card for a test drive by 4/15 and another $500 if purchasing from the same dealer by 4/30. So, naturally, I took advantage of these freebies.

Also, we live three hours from the plant so we went down there to tour the minivan line the week ours was being built. It was incredibly cool and a nice commemoration of our purchase. Some interesting stats: 1100+ acres; 4MM SF under roof; 4100 teammates, 83% Hoosiers (a big plus for me); two production lines (the other builds SUVs); 90% NA parts content; 600 Siennas made each day (150,000/yr); 20 hrs to build each van with half spent in the paint shop; 150 truckloads of inbound supplies unloaded each day; $75,000/day electric bills; each vehicle is made to order. Quite an experience and well worth checking out if you have an interest.
_________________________
2014 Camaro 2SS/RS LS3 Vert Dexos1 3500
2012 Sienna XLE 30,000 0W-20 TGMO
2011 Accord V6 30,000 0W-20 TGMO
2004 Intrepid 100,000 PP 5W-30

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#2613614 - 04/30/12 09:53 AM Re: 2012 Toyota Sienna XLE FWD-Initial Review [Re: Indydriver]
mareakin Offline


Registered: 07/07/08
Posts: 280
Loc: nyc
The Toyota auto plant actually let you go inside and watch Sienna's being built? That's pretty cool. I definitely want to do THAT!!!!

Did you have to make an appointment? How did it work?

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#2613764 - 04/30/12 12:24 PM Re: 2012 Toyota Sienna XLE FWD-Initial Review [Re: Indydriver]
Hokiefyd Offline


Registered: 06/24/04
Posts: 11420
Loc: North Carolina
Nice review and nice vehicle. Congratulations!
_________________________
Cheers,
Jason

2008 Honda CR-V EX-L (QSUD 5W-30)
2005 Acura MDX Touring (FMC 5W-20)

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#2613798 - 04/30/12 01:05 PM Re: 2012 Toyota Sienna XLE FWD-Initial Review [Re: mareakin]
Samilcar Offline


Registered: 07/11/08
Posts: 1478
Loc: Iowa
Originally Posted By: mareakin
The Toyota auto plant actually let you go inside and watch Sienna's being built? That's pretty cool. I definitely want to do THAT!!!!

Did you have to make an appointment? How did it work?


http://www.tourtoyotaindiana.com/plant-tours/index.php

I've talked to a couple of people who've taken the tour of the Princeton, IN plant and they've all recommended it.

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#2613808 - 04/30/12 01:16 PM Re: 2012 Toyota Sienna XLE FWD-Initial Review [Re: Indydriver]
Samilcar Offline


Registered: 07/11/08
Posts: 1478
Loc: Iowa
Originally Posted By: Indydriver
The consequence of this design choice is Run Flat Tires.


I frequent a Sienna users board and the run-flat tires supplied with the AWD models are universally hated. Expensive, ride like rocks and are usually ruined anyway if they happen to be ridden on any distance while flat. Most AWD users switch to normal tires once replacements are needed (carrying a compact spare in the rear cargo area, or a can of slime) and wonder why they didn't do it sooner.

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#2613932 - 04/30/12 04:00 PM Re: 2012 Toyota Sienna XLE FWD-Initial Review [Re: mareakin]
Indydriver Offline


Registered: 03/20/11
Posts: 1297
Loc: Indiana
Originally Posted By: mareakin
The Toyota auto plant actually let you go inside and watch Sienna's being built? That's pretty cool. I definitely want to do THAT!!!!

Did you have to make an appointment? How did it work?

It was VERY cool. The only disappointment for me was that I could have watched for hours and the tour only lasts 45 minutes. The car literally starts out as a roll of coil steel and is stamped into body parts right there. The stampings are then welded onto the frame and then it goes to the paint shop. When it comes out of paint, the first thing they do is remove all the doors so they don't get dinged while they outfit the interior. They disappear somewhere above the line only to rejoin the same body later in assembly after the interior is done. A guy sitting in a swivel chair on a long arm is lifted inside and swivels around attaching various things. Perhaps the coolest thing was watching them attach the engine/transaxle/front suspension in 30 seconds. Yes, 30 seconds. Each van is built to order so each successive vehicle is different trim. The tires arrive in perfect order: four of a kind, with or without a spare, 17, 18, or 19" each on different wheels. When it's all done, they put six gallons of gas in each one and fire it up checking all the lights and electronics. Two test drivers choose random vans to go for short 85 mph test drives on their onsite test track. 83% of production gets loaded on railcars for shipment to one of six distribution centers. This must be a very efficient process because my van was built on 2nd shift on a Thursday, shipped by rail to the Chicago distribution center, then trucked back to Indy. It arrived at my dealer Monday morning, about 3 1/2 days after it was built. It was a great experience and made the purchase extra special. Highly recommended. Just sign up, then show up. The Visitor Center is a small museum. The highlight is a real life Tundra exploded in four dimensions, all 2600 parts suspended from the ceiling.


Edited by Indydriver (04/30/12 04:09 PM)
_________________________
2014 Camaro 2SS/RS LS3 Vert Dexos1 3500
2012 Sienna XLE 30,000 0W-20 TGMO
2011 Accord V6 30,000 0W-20 TGMO
2004 Intrepid 100,000 PP 5W-30

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#2614189 - 04/30/12 07:55 PM Re: 2012 Toyota Sienna XLE FWD-Initial Review [Re: Indydriver]
Cujet Offline


Registered: 02/15/03
Posts: 4177
Loc: Jupiter, Florida
The Sienna minivan is my absolute favorite in it's class, and even somewhat out of it's class. I love the way they drive, the powerful engine and capable suspension and brakes. Toyota has done a very good job getting it right.
_________________________
Turbo's rule.

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#2614521 - 05/01/12 05:44 AM Re: 2012 Toyota Sienna XLE FWD-Initial Review [Re: Cujet]
Indydriver Offline


Registered: 03/20/11
Posts: 1297
Loc: Indiana
Originally Posted By: Cujet
The Sienna minivan is my absolute favorite in it's class, and even somewhat out of it's class. I love the way they drive, the powerful engine and capable suspension and brakes. Toyota has done a very good job getting it right.

Thanks for that feedback. These were my initial impressions but it's good to hear from someone with more time with them. I would add that the interior seems underrated to me. The seats are superbly comfortable and the overall design gave me an 'at home' feeling the first time I sat in it. Also, the 6 speed trans is a real step forward in smoothness and efficiency.
_________________________
2014 Camaro 2SS/RS LS3 Vert Dexos1 3500
2012 Sienna XLE 30,000 0W-20 TGMO
2011 Accord V6 30,000 0W-20 TGMO
2004 Intrepid 100,000 PP 5W-30

Top
#2615284 - 05/01/12 08:20 PM Re: 2012 Toyota Sienna XLE FWD-Initial Review [Re: Indydriver]
rcy Offline


Registered: 02/14/04
Posts: 1557
Loc: Burlington, Ontario, Canada
Nice review and nice vehicle. I didn't realize the AWD model was that significantly different in the handling, but I haven't heard anything good about runflats (the last generation Odyssey had them and they were universally hated).

Did you consider the Nissan Quest at all? I like the quest, but the back end is definitely hearse like.

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#2617681 - 05/04/12 04:41 AM Re: 2012 Toyota Sienna XLE FWD-Initial Review [Re: Indydriver]
erikaB Offline


Registered: 09/20/11
Posts: 6
Loc: California, USA
Nice review! Its right for safety.

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