2011 sienna

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Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

It’s roomy, comfortable and quite responsive on the freeway. We’re talking about the 2011 Toyota Sienna Van and its ratings are fantastic.sienna

This loaded people-hauler has been very useful during a recent home swap and vacation trip.

In a recent home move, almost every stitch of clothing and ounce of food was loaded into the Sienna and hauled with no problem. In fact, while unloading, someone remarked on how big the Sienna is–and how much stuff was in there still to bring in.

On Trips Sienna handles well for a big vehicle. You don’t feel like you’re about to tip over, and it’s solid on the expressway. I didn’t really push it (who pushes minivans?) but never experienced much roll. The chassis is very cushy and wasn’t fazed when navigating broken roads.

The steering is nice, and the interior parts look clean. It seemed a bit hard to reach over and adjust the radio channel, but otherwise a great cabin. The overall exterior seems a bit barge-like–but most minivans do. I did really like the taillights, though.

Sienna accelerates with force on the expressway, and the van  is impressive as it builds speed and the revs increas. Gas mileage in the mid to upper twenties per gallon is achievable.

2011 Toyota Sienna XLE

Base Price: $35,315

As-Tested : $42,211

Drivetrain: 3.5-liter V6; six-speed automatic

Output: 265 hp @ 6,200 rpm, 245 lb-ft @ 4,700 rpm

Curb Weight: 4,735 lb

Fuel Economy: (EPA) 18 mpg

Options: XLE premium package including dual view entertainment center, two wireless headphones, voice-activated touch screen DVD, navigation system with panorama camera, backup camera, premium sound, XM Radio with NavTraffic, auxiliary audio jack, USB port with iPod capability, hands free phone capability, music streaming via Bluetooth wireless technology, smart key, push button start, remote illuminated entry, chrome accented door handles, rear parking sonar, safety connect ($6,225); carpet floor mats ($324); roof rack cross bar ($185); wireless headphones ($82); cargo net ($51); first aid kit ($29)

Toyota Electric Power Steering (EPS)

Sunday, February 7th, 2010

Electric Power Steering (EPS) is replacing hydraulic power steering in many new vehicles today. epss

One of the advantages of electric power steering is that it eliminates the power steering pump, which can use as much as 8 to 10 horsepower under load. This improves fuel economy while also eliminating the weight and bulk of the power steering pump and hoses. Getting rid of the hydraulics also does away with fluid leaks and the need to check the power steering fluid. Electric power steering is also quieter than hydraulic systems because there is no pump noise and no fluid flowing through hoses and valves. But the most noticeable difference is in handling and steering refinement.

Electric power steering can be fine tuned with a precision that is hard to match with hydraulic controls. By monitoring the driver’s steering inputs, vehicle speed, and other suspension dynamics, the system can provide just the right amount of steering feel and effort to match rapidly changing driving conditions. EPS can deliver extra effort when you need it, and reduce steering effort when you do not need it. It can even provide steering assist when the engine is off.

Electric Power Steering can be found on the  new Avalon, Venza, Camry, Corolla,  Prius, RAV4, New Sienna, and Scions in the Toyota product line.
Though some of the older electric power steering systems were actually “electro-hydraulic,” and used an electric motor to drive a conventional hydraulic pump, the latest generation of EPS is all electric/electronic. The steering gear itself is a manual rack with an electric motor mounted on the steering column or the rack.

When the driver turns the wheel, a steering sensor detects the position and rate of rotation of the steering wheel. This information along with input from a steering torque sensor mounted in the steering shaft is fed to the power steering control module. Other inputs such as vehicle speed and inputs from the traction control or stability control systems are factored in to determine how much steering assist is required. The control module then commands the motor to rotate a certain amount, and a sensor on the motor provides feedback to the control module so it can monitor the motor’s position.

Better yet, because an EPS system is software driven, it is possible to tap into the steering module and modify steering effort and feel. This can be done with a factory scan tool on some applications, and with aftermarket “tuner” scan tools and software.



Tuesday, January 19th, 2010
Toyota is the first automaker in North America to offer a Factory Installed, Rotating, Power Ascending/Descending Lift-Up Access Seat.  Designed internally for use in the all new 2011 Toyota Sienna Van, the Auto Access Seat will offer a new level of comfort and convenience to anyone who may need assistance getting in or out of a vehicle. The Factory Installed Auto Access Seat is being displayed at the 2010 North American International Auto Show.

access seat 

Factory installed at the Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Indiana (TMMI) assembly plant, the Auto Access Seat offers consumers a seamless purchase-process alternative to the current aftermarket installation method, which requires the consumer to purchase their vehicle and then have it modified by an aftermarket supplier.
The Sienna minivan equipped with the Auto Access Seat will offer a much needed transportation solution for the caregivers of an elderly parent or spouse with a walking disability, a disabled veteran, or for the parents of child with a disability.
The Auto Access Seat features a one-touch operation and benefits from the all-new Sienna’s spacious interior and wide-opening sliding doors.  A seat-mounted ingress/egress switch and a wireless remote control allows for easy and flexible seat operation. 
 The seat rotates 90 degrees and can be lowered to within 19 inches of the ground to further facilitate easier passenger transfers at the exact height required.
Once inside, the Auto Access Seat occupant can utilize reclining and slide switches located on both sides of the seat.  This allows operation of up to four inches of slide travel and reclining of up to 24 degrees.  The auto-recline feature also allows for safe head clearance through the door frame during entry and exit.  The compact design of the seat also provides ample legroom for third-row passengers.
The Auto Access Seat is equipped with a number of safety attributes, including an audible beep when the seat is in operation, and a park-shift interlock feature that prevents seat operation if the vehicle is not in the “Park” position.  A sliding door sensor allows the seat to operate only when the sliding door is completely open.  Two audible beeps will warn the user of a partially open sliding-door condition, or if the seat is not fully stowed when the door close button is pressed.  A manual retraction function allows the seat to be retracted fully in the event of a vehicle power failure.
The Auto Access Seat also features obstruction-detection programming, which notifies the operator with two audible beeps and halts seat operation.  The seat will retract when an obstruction is met to facilitate easier removal of the object.
Additional safety features include Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) to properly secure any iso-fix style child safety seat.  The Auto Access Seat meets all Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS).
The Auto Access Seat will be available on Sienna LE and XLE models…  The seat fabric matches the vehicle interior fabric and has a stain- and odor-resistant treatment.  The seat is vinyl trimmed on the XLE model to better match the XLE grade interior style and allows for easier passenger transfer.
Consumers will benefit from Toyota quality, durability, and reliability with the new Auto Access Seat system.  The seat-operating mechanism is link-driven, allowing enhanced durability and a more quiet operation than chain-driven systems. The Auto Access Seat has a lift capacity of up to 330 lbs., making it useful for people of all sizes or those who carry specialized medical equipment.  Owners will also enjoy the convenience of having the seat system serviced at their local Toyota dealership, which comes with a comprehensive three-year/36,000 mile factory warranty.
Toyota’s Auto Access Seat will be available when the new third-generation Sienna goes on sale in February 2010 (dealer order may be required).


Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

Toyota’s Indiana plant prepares to build the third generation Sienna minivan. 65-2011-toyota-sienna-front-grill

The nine-year-old plant has 4,200 employees and faced an uncertain future with the economic downturn. By mid-2008, the plant’s Tundra full-size pickup production had been moved to Toyota’s Texas facility. Toyota also decided to build the Highlander mid-size SUV in Indiana by late 2009.

Toyota invested approximately $450 million to upgrade the plant, which introduced the Highlander last October. Now, TMMI is poised to build the all-new, third generation Sienna.

“It made more sense to further invest in our experienced team members (rather than resort to layoffs),” an official said. “We refocused our work. When we weren’t building vehicles, and prepared for a brighter future.”

TMMI implemented a training program for team members. It also encouraged team members to further kaizen, a Japanese term for continuous improvement. No ideas for improving processes and reducing waste were too small; in fact, hundreds of improvements were implemented resulting in an estimated savings of more than $7 million.

Team member ideas bolstered safety and ensured consistent quality. For example, the installation of the lower front console on the all-new Sienna put the team member in an awkward position. Team members found a small power tool that ensured the console snapped securely in place every time while eliminating an ergonomic issue.

“The power of more than 4,000 people working together on this type of activity is incredible. Our decision to fully utilize our team members was expensive, but it’s paying off already. Currently, our quality is much better than it’s ever been and our safety is among the best in Toyota.”

Toyota offset some of the cost by adopting a “shared sacrifice” approach, including the elimination of executive and salaried bonuses, executive pay cuts, production team member bonus reductions, overtime elimination, and a hiring freeze. Could Washington learn something from this?


Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

“We believe the minivan is poised to rebound and young families will lead the way.”                                       toyota-sienna-limited-2011-_320x240

The 2011 Sienna is the third-generation of the model and Toyota packed the new design with features that it hopes will set the Sienna apart from other vehicles in its class.

Among the fancier options available are dual-power sliding doors. Inside, the 2011 Toyota Sienna’s completely redesigned cabin boasts significantly more people and cargo space in addition to a bounty of passenger pleasing touches like tri-zone air conditioning, reclining second-row seats with footrests, a 60/40 Split and Stow third-row bench (power activated in the Limited), extended seat travel and loads of convenient configuration stow spaces. A panoramic rearview camera monitor and a 16.4-inch flat-screen television that flips open from the ceiling is available. Passengers can view a movie on the full screen or go into a split-screen setting and view a movie on one side while playing a video game on the other. Be sure to recline the second row seats with footrests while enjoying yourself!Toyota-Sienna-2011-Interior

The Sienna boasts wider doors than previous models and can accommodate up to eight passengers. The second-row seats can be shifted forward behind the front seats, and the third-row seats can be stowed flat, creating a cargo-carrying area that’s about eight feet long and four feet wide, Toyota said.

Sienna will be available in five variations, including a sporty SE and a high-end Limited edition. Toyota is offering two engine types for the Sienna – a 2.7-liter, four-cylinder engine or a 3.5-liter, 266-horsepower V6.

The Sienna hits showrooms in February, although Toyota won’t say yet what its starting price will be.

It will be priced lower than the current model, however. On the company’s Web site, the Sienna is listed as starting at $24,540.

3.5-liter V6
2.7-liter L4
Total Horsepower
266 hp
187 hp
6-speed ECT-i automatic
6-speed ECT-i automatic
Towing Capacity (lbs.)
Width (inches)
78.2 in.
Height (inches)
70.7 with roof rails
70.7 with roof rails
Overall Length (inches)
Wheelbase (inches)
Sienna grade and LE FWD

17-inch five-spoke alloy

17-inch seven spoke machine finished alloy
18-inch 10-spoke machine finished alloy
19-inch six-spoke Super Chrome finished alloy
17-inch five-spoke alloy
P235/60 R17 (Sienna grade, LE, XLE)
P235/55R18 (Limited)
P235/55RF18 (AWD models)
P235/50R19 (SE)
P235/60 R17 (Sienna grade, LE)