sienna-navpanelSince almost every spare dime has gone towards my daughters’ college tuition, you would think we would drive a jalopy to the oldest’s graduation. But the folks at Toyota graciously loaned me a Sienna minivan to test out and we traveled in true mom fashion (plus dad, sisters and cousins).

But there was room to spare in this new minivan with safety and luxury touches that make the Sienna a car for the whole family.

Safety First

The Sienna is a large car, so having a mirror that lights up when a car is too close to you for you to change lanes is literally a lifesaver.

Whenever the Sienna is reverse, the panoramic camera displays what’s behind you on the navigation system.

Comfort Doesn’t Take a Back Seat

The second row of seats has two captains chairs, so if you are traveling with other adults, they can sit in regular, comfortable seats. But even the third row has plenty of room for three. And the seats fold down in that row either singly, or as a pair, letting you customize your configuration. If you are picking up an Ikea order, or driving your child to or from college, or camp, you can fold down seats as needed.

Let the Sun Shine

There are separate moon roofs for the front and back seats (not sure why they aren’t called sun roofs anymore) giving you plenty of light and air. If you have the kind of kids who can’t keep their grubby fingers off buttons, you can disable the rear moon roof and keep it either open or closed.

toyota_siennaMore Luxury

There is also a built-in DVD player (for the second row of passengers) with a large drop-down screen. The screen can even be split so one person watches a movie while the other plays a video game or watches a different DVD (there are power outlets and jacks; you need to bring your own portable game player or DVD for the second person).

You can get screens for rear seat entertainment as well.

There are four cup holders for the passengers in the front two seats, and plenty of room for bags, so you can bring coffee, water and a couple of adult diapers if you drink all that liquid. I had space for a large pocketbook, sunglasses, my phone (not in use while driving, of course) and a sandwich on the five hour drive upstate.

The console between the front seats slides back so passengers in the middle row can reach their cup holders.

Follow Along: Built in Navigation System

The navigation system was somewhat quirky; we drove from our hotel to my daughter’s college three times and got three different sets of directions. I actually knew how to go; since she was graduating, I’d been there several times, but I was just curious how the GPS worked.

We got there, though, and I liked how the system gave a short beep to remind us of an imminent turn; on some nav sytems, you are never quite sure – “is this the turn, or the one just ahead?” With the Sienna, the turns were nearly impossible to mistake.

toyota-interiorWhat We Loved

Comfortable leather, heated captain’s seats for driver and front passenger

The dual moon roof is standard

The navigation system keeps you apprised of upcoming exits and services in when you don’t have a destination plugged in

Easy to fold down seats and plenty of room for hauling bulky items or large passengers

Power sliding doors on both sides and power liftgate

What You Need to Know

Base price is $41,325

The model I test drove included a limited premium package of $4,105 with options like a the dual view entertainment center, voice-activated nav system, back up camera with regular view or wide-angle, SiriusXM satellite radio and Bluetooth streaming. In other words, the whole nine yards.

Fuel economy is listed as 19 mpg, with a breakdown of 16 in the city and 23 on the highway. We did mostly highway driveway and got about 22mpg.