It's not macho to like minivans, but I depart convention and sing their praises every opportunity I get.
In this case, it was a marathon drive from
to Greenville, SC with four friends. Delray Beach, FL
The same group made the same trip in the same minivan about a year ago. And I mean the same minivan. For whatever reason, this 2011 Toyota Sienna has been hanging around the
Carolinas' press fleet for more than a year. So although I usually write about current-year vehicles, I'm making an exception for this terrific road-trip people carrier.
Before you jump to the conclusion that this opus is completely irrelevant, the Sienna is little changed for 2012.
The traveling group consisted of me and four of the Peddler Wednesday-Night Irregulars. Our destination was the home of
friends who have Florida holdings and are social members of the Irregulars. Greenville
Here's the commercial: For a group outing, it's tough to beat the Sienna. It seats seven and still holds enough luggage for five adults for five days. Its secret is the deep well behind the third-row seat that accommodates that seat when it's folded and flipped to create a flat cargo floor. It swallows luggage like the whale sucked in Jonah.
The first two rows of seats are captain's chairs. The third row is a split bench that is ideal for curling up on and napping. There are lots of cupholders and cubbies for stashing stuff.
Our version was the nearly base $31,130 LE. It costs $800 more for 2012. Usually the vehicles I get feature all the bells and whistles. Not so in this instance. The only extras were floor mats and a first-aid kit. Thankfully, we didn't require the kit.
Despite its crew consisting of five older grumps, the Sienna didn't earn any complaints. It averaged about 20 mpg, even though it was loaded down with people and their gear.
We were drizzled on for the first 250 miles of the trip. We didn't see even a hint of sun until we were south of
I drove the first leg of the trip and the Sienna performed brilliantly. At the first fuel stop, one of my friends assumed the reins. I sat in one of the second-row seats for about two hours. Well, I didn't sit as much as slump as I snoozed away about 20 minutes.
We are preparing to head to the beach. All seven of us will easily fit in the Sienna and still have room for seven beach chairs.
Life is a beach!