2011 Toyota Sienna Performance
This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.
Reviewers are pretty happy with the Sienna’s performance. For 2011, Toyota added a four-cylinder engine to the lineup, and most reviewers say that the little fuel-sipper has decent power for getting around town, though a few recommend the V6 if you usually drive a lot of people around -- its extra power can better cope with the weight of lots of passengers.
The big news for most reviewers is the new Sienna SE. The SE is a sport-turned trim with a revised suspension and steering system that make it more nimble and more fun than a typical minivan. Though most reviewers still think the Honda Odyssey has the distinction of being the sportiest minivan around, a few argue that if you want to have a little fun while driving the carpool, the Sienna SE is worth a look.
- "After driving the whole lineup, including the sport tuned SE, we were impressed with the Sienna's composed road manners and surprising performance, even with the new four-cylinder base engine." -- Autoblog
- "The SE-specific power assist however, is perfect for this application, and it makes us wonder why other Siennas are still saddled with completely lifeless, numb steering." -- Automobile Magazine
- “We find it a bit odd that Toyota’s minivan is the one vehicle in the carmaker’s lineup that doesn’t trade athletic responses for refined sogginess. None of Toyota’s vehicles is the sportiest among its competitors, except the Sienna. Well, you’ve got to start somewhere." -- Car and Driver
Acceleration and Power:
There are two engines available on the 2011 Sienna. The base engine is a 2.7-liter four-cylinder that makes 187 horsepower; it comes on base models and two-wheel-drive models of the Sienna LE. The EPA estimates that engine’s fuel economy at 19 miles per gallon in the city and 24 miles per gallon on the highway. The other engine, a 3.5-liter V6 that makes 266 horsepower, is optional for base and 2WD LE models and standard for all other models. The V6 has an EPA-estimated fuel economy of 18/24 miles per gallon city/highway on two-wheel-drive models and 16/22 on all-wheel drive models.
Both engines are well-liked by reviewers, but a few recommend the V6 over the four-cylinder if you routinely carry lots of people or heavy loads. However, most agree that the smaller engine does just fine, especially if you want to save some money. Both engines have a six-speed automatic transmission.
All-wheel drive is available with the V6, but you should know that the all-wheel drive system’s extra weight will hurt fuel economy. Still, the Sienna is the only minivan on the market with all-wheel drive and that makes it a viable alternative to an SUV.
- "Both of the Sienna's engines are strong enough for commuting, but the V-6 is the one worth having for anything other than light duty. The four tends to strain up hills if you're carrying a mild load, and its fuel economy isn't that much better than that of the two-wheel-drive six." -- Jalopnik
- "The four-cylinder engine actually feels adequate and unstrained in the Sienna LE." -- Popular Mechanics
- "Powerful enough for most buyers, the four-cylinder does make a few gritty noises under acceleration, but there is enough torque (186 lb-ft) to move the Sienna smartly. Those who regularly carry a full load of passengers might want to opt for the 3.5-liter V-6 that produces 266 hp and 245 lb-ft of torque." -- Car and Driver
- "As with the V6 model, the I-4's six-speed transmission held gears appropriately, but it was clear that the engine was working harder than the V6." -- Edmunds
Handling and Braking
Since it’s a minivan, most car reviewers don’t expect much from the Sienna when it comes to handling. The majority report, however, that the Sienna offers a comfortable ride that should satisfy most families. A few are even pleased by the sporty Sienna SE, which has special tuning that makes it more agile. However, you should note that some critics, while they like the SE’s handling, think its ride is a little too harsh for minivan buyers.
If you’re looking for the sportiest minivan around, a lot of car reviewers recommend the Honda Odyssey. Its base price is a little higher than the Sienna’s, and its fuel economy isn’t as good, but if you want a sporty van, reviewers say it’s your best bet.
- "The Sienna rides and handles like little more than a tall, heavy Camry. Damping and suspension calibration is much better than before; third-seat passengers no longer get treated to a jitter-wallow ride and stomach-turning body motions. The SE is no fleet-footed wonder, but it pulls off chassis tricks that no mass-market minivan should be able to accomplish." -- Jalopnik
- "From behind the wheel, the Sienna still feels larger than the Honda Odyssey-which is our minivan handling benchmark and the most carlike in the segment-but the body's resistance to roll and the supple-yet-controlled ride are on par with the Honda." -- Car and Driver
- "The Sienna SE doesn't float like a marshmallow because the body motions are so much better controlled. The SE doesn't steer like an ocean liner because the steering is more lively and natural-feeling. Don't get us wrong, because the 4,465-pound Sienna SE will never feel like a sport sedan or even a European wagon, but it will give a run to the class-leading handler, the Honda Odyssey." -- Edmunds
- "Ride quality, a strength for the last Sienna, remains good. In all but the sport-tuned Sienna SE, the suspension fairly glides over bumps, maintaining excellent cabin comfort. Wind noise on the highway is fairly low, too. But on a couple of models with 17-inch wheels I noticed more road noise than I'd expect in a minivan." -- Cars.com
- "All of the new Sienna models handled and rode reasonably well with very little body roll, squat or dive. The SE, on the other hand, felt almost tossable, although bumps were less dampened." -- Autoblog