September 13, 2013

A Man in a Van... The Toyota Sienna

I'm not a car guy at all.

I look under the hood and it's all foreign to me.  I know how to put gas in the car, maybe add a little oil, and put air in the tires.  But that's it.  When I go to buy a car there are a few things that I want: a loud sound system, automatic doors, and the ability to carry a lot of stuff. You can only get that with one vehicle; a minivan.

I was obviously never into minivans before I had kids, why would you? I had nothing to haul and no kids to tote around.  I would have been laughed at.  Instead I drove a Dodge Neon. It was fine; it had wheels and got me to where I needed to go.

Then we had kids.

Not wanting to fully jump into the suburban lifestyle just yet, my wife and I bought a Honda Pilot.  I think every couple buys an SUV first then eventually gets smart and buys a minivan, at least that's what we did.  Our second car was a Honda Odyssey.  It was great.  There was an entertainment system for the kids, satellite radio for me and the wife, and the ability to load as much stuff from Home Depot as I wanted.

Our second van, which is our current car, was a Chrysler Town and Country.  We would have liked to stay with the Odyssey, but the price was too much and we got a great deal on the T&C.  I'm not thrilled with my current car.  It seems that they engine light has been on since the day we got it.  Even after numerous trips to the dealer the light still glows.  I don't want to waste my time sitting waiting for a car to get fixed, when it doesn't get fixed.  Needless to say, when our current lease is up we'll be shopping for a new van.

Enter the Toyota Sienna.

I hadn't given the Sienna much thought.  Truth be told when we first looked at vans five and a half years ago I wasn't thrilled with the car.  My sister in law drove them and she loved them.  But she always had a dent in her rear bumper.  Maybe I couldn't get past that, but the Sienna was always a car that was just meh to me. But that has changed.

Photo by Shawn Parkin
I was recently invited by Toyota out to Las Vegas to check out the new and improved Toyota Sienna.  At first glance I liked what I saw.  Clearly this isn't the same vehicle that we test drove almost six years ago and there are no dents to be found in the rear bumper like my sister in laws old car. This car was sharp.

I know what you are thinking, its a van.  Men want bells and whistles and they want speed.  There are places that you can go to find out all the specs of each individual model, I'm not going to get into that here.  All I needed was somewhere to plug in my phone and have easy access to the radio.  Both of which it has.  My only concern was the lack of a USB connection in the second row of seats in the model that we test drove.  And you want speed?  What better place to test that out than Las Vegas Motor Speedway?

Photo by Shawn Parkin
I had never raced cars before outside of Pole Position and most assuredly I had never raced minivans.  This was an experience that was all new.  I am not going to lie, there were times that I thought the van was going to flip over going around some of the turns, but it didn't.  The van is NOT a race car and it's not a car that I am going to race in ever again, but it did handle fantastically.  While I was scared for my life at certain times I didn't die, and what more could you ask for from a minivan?

The car is spacious too.  It's probably the only time that I am ever going to be in a minivan with three other grown men, but we had leg room to spare.  Driving around the streets of Las Vegas you could tell that people weren't looking at us because we were some weird group of dads driving a minivan, they were all gawking at the look of it.  The only thing hotter than Las Vegas in August, is a TOYOTA SIENNA in Las Vegas in August. (I wasn't paid to say that)

I've seen a lot of Siennas driving around my neighborhood, but they are the older models.  There is a look and feel to the latest edition that's hard to describe.  It actually seems like the kind of car that I would get even if I didn't have kids.  But don't tell anyone that I said that.  It's has enough room for me and the family, and I can still go to Home Depot and load up all the supplies that I think I need to build something. I might just build a garage for my new Toyota Sienna.

*I was flown to Las Vegas by Toyota, put up in a fancy hotel and was fed very well.  That being said, all of the above opinions are my own

John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?


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