In some cars, you just want to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible, but when you’re in a Toyota Sienna, especially as one of the passengers in the back, it’s all about kicking back and enjoying the ride. These minivans are set up with the equivalent of your daddy’s recliner in the middle row, complete with footrest when you’re truly looking to relax. To me, this turns the Sienna into one deluxe way of soaking up the sites from the road, so the question really becomes, WHAT WILL YOU SEE FROM YOUR SIENNA?
We took one on a trip down the coast ‘with the girls’…me and my 12 year old daughter, my pal Cindy (with SurvivingMommy.com) and her two girls, now 12 and 4. We called it Lobsters and Lighthouses II, because it was part two of a trip my daughter and I took last summer up the coast.
The goal: to see as many lighthouses and eat as much lobster as possible, all while making memories that our girls will never forget.
We failed miserably at the eating lobster part. I think we forgot that was part of our mission, because we were having so much fun at the other goal: the making memories part.
I’d say we saw enough lighthouses to get us through another year. Maybe. We definitely climbed enough (those lighthouses can get hot in the summer heat, and we discovered right away that Cindy doesn’t do too well at those heights).
This trip crossed into South Carolina, through Georgia, down the Florida coast all the way to Key West and the Southernmost point of the United States. At one point, we were about as close to Cuba as we were to Miami. And the entire trip was epic.
We couldn’t have picked a more comfortable ride. When Toyota offered us the Sienna to review on our journey, I think they feared these moms were looking for something other than a minivan. Not at all. After all, this is what they call a Swagger Wagon, remember?
They call it that because it is fully loaded with all the bells and whistles that make it ultra cool to drive, plus, all the technology to keep us up to date on what we needed to know on the road (ahem, weather forecast!!).
Its 27 mpg fuel average on the highway kept our expenses down—leaving more money for the sweet souvenirs we kept finding along the way to the country’s southernmost point and back.
We drove through plenty of sunshine, but a few storms, too, where we couldn’t see the cars in front of us and were thankful for the all wheel drive, projector beam headlights and LED taillights.
The three climate control zones were helpful, since we used all three rows. And the dual-view blu-ray disc entertainment center did its job of helping keep the kids occupied when there wasn’t something to see on the roadside. The dual moonroof was also a nice touch.
We had plenty of room for all of us, and for the surfboard we decided to buy after our surfing lessons in Jacksonville. We strapped it to the top first, then moved it inside the minivan (what other vehicle would let you haul a nine foot surf board over your heads INSIDE the car?). According to the manual, depending on how the seats are configured, you can adjust cargo volume from 39 cubic feet behind the third row to a whopping 150 cubic feet with the second and third rows folded. Can you even imagine all the fun stuff we could have picked up on the trip if we hadn’t brought our daughters (only half joking here)?
There are plenty of safety features throughout, including 8 air bags, the star safety system of a suite of six active safety features, blind spot monitor, and rear cross-traffic alert with audible and visual indicators to warn you of oncoming vehicles. There are parking assist sonars and a pre-collision system that automatically applies the brakes.
You can use hands-free calling and stream your music. There’s even ‘driver easy speak’ that allows you to chat with passengers in the rear seat using a built-in microphone up front that picks up your voice and transmits it to the back through the rear speakers. I have to admit, when we tried it, we couldn’t tell if the four year old in the back was hearing our normal voices in the front or if she heard us through the speakers. We probably should have tested it with the adults split up, but I take Toyota’s word for it that it could be cool.
My dad wouldn’t forgive me if I didn’t mention the 296 horsepower 3.5 liter V6 direct-injection engine with direct shift 8-speed automatic transmission (sorry—I’ve always been more about the comfort inside than what’s under the hood, but I know I’m not everybody). Oh, and fully loaded the way we drove it, the price is about $47-thousand.
We were in the minivan comfortably for days…literally…stopping at lighthouses from Amelia Island (not much to see, I have to say—the St. Augustine light was much nicer) on down to the one in Key West, right next door to Ernest Hemingway’s home.
We took surfing lessons with our girls in Jacksonville (a must do with Jax Surf & Paddle if you’re ever in the area, and stay at Hotel Palms, a very cool motor coach inn that’s been renovated into a super chic retro hotel).
We helped a newly hatched turtle make it to the ocean in Vero Beach and swam in the waters near a shipwreck from decades ago.
We spotted a submarine off the shore north of Miami while staying at the Margaritaville Resort in Hollywood Beach (where yes, indeed, we did eat a Cheeseburger in Paradise) and slept in paradise, too, in a room and resort that makes the most of its ties to Jimmy Buffett and all that makes him such a legend. It’s truly impossible to walk through the resort and not sing at least one of his songs.
We drove over the seven-mile bridge leading down the Keys and celebrated sunset in Mallory Square in Key West, in all its funky glory. We swam at the spot where the Gulf of Mexico meets the Atlantic and soaked up all the sunny good vibes along the way.
We saw it all, thanks to our epic ride in the Toyota Sienna.
Sure, we missed out on eating lobster, but we absolutely won big on the making memories part.
So, I ask you, WHAT DO YOU WANT TO SEE FROM A SIENNA?
Here’s a video of our fun in the Sienna. I hope you have as much fun as we did!!!
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