One for the family man in denial
There comes a time when a family man has to assume himself. He can stay in denial for a while, but at some point, he’ll have to take full responsibility for his fertility and choose a transportation device that will haul his kids and their stuff -- and leave room for Poochy the golden retriever.
Oh sure, the family man was a hustlin’ ladies man back in the day, cruising around in his Mustang or Prelude, but that time is over. His new set of wheels isn’t a chick magnet, but boy, does it ever make his life easier.
The family man is now strutting his stuff, or what’s left of it, in a minivan.
There aren’t many to choose from anymore since your typical family man might sacrifice space and versatility for a trendy crossover vehicle instead. However, Toyota thinks their Sienna has just what the family man needs, especially in the, um, sporty SE trim.
No, it’s not really a sports car
Does Toyota really think you can fool a family man? Even with 19” alloy wheels, more aggressive front and rear fascias, a “sporty” front grille, a rear spoiler, and smoked headlight clusters and taillamps, the 2012 Toyota Sienna SE doesn’t look macho, and it never will. Call it a Swagger Wagon if you want Toyota, but it’s still a minivan.
Yet it looks good, sophisticated if you will. The SE would probably be the family man’s choice because it’s the last, albeit faint, indication that there’s still life inside of him. One day, when the kids are old enough to stay home and sit in front of the Playstation all day long, chances are the family man will ditch the minivan for something more, ah, personalized. And it likely won’t be an Avalon.
The eight-passenger Sienna SE does get a fair amount of features, however: power sunroof, three-zone climate control, fabric sport seats with leatherette inserts, leather-wrapped wheel and shift knob, a 6-speaker stereo with a USB port and Bluetooth connectivity, a backup camera, as well as power-sliding side doors and a power liftgate. The family man gets a fair amount of gadgets to cheer him up.
Hold on to your Happy Meal
Today’s minivans are equipped with high-horsepower V6 engines, as if they’re trying to be forgiven for being unfashionable transportation devices. The Sienna is no exception, boasting a 3.5L V6 that belts out 266 hp and 245 lb-ft of torque.
Poochy better be lying down and the kids better be firmly strapped in their booster seats when the family man hits the accelerator because the 2012 Toyota Sienna SE rips to 100 km/h in 8.8 seconds -- not bad for a 4,460-lb vehicle. Mash the throttle, and the front-drive Sienna’s tires will screech as if they’re trying to tell the family man: “Hey, what’s your problem, dude? Have you forgotten what you’re driving?”
Fuel economy is rated at 11.3L/100km around town and 7.9 on the highway. We family men recorded an average of 11.7L/100km with four on board and a cargo area filled with photo and video camera gear, on a recent round trip from Montreal to Toronto. Could’ve been a little lower, we think.
With no kids on board -- at least from an age standpoint -- there were no ice cream spills or fighting, but the classic “are we there yet?” was heard on more than one occasion since we didn’t find the second-row seats very comfortable over the long trip. We did, however, manage to get coffee stains in most of the Sienna’s 12 cupholders.
Lots of space for the offspring
This is why the family-man-in-denial breaks and buys a minivan. With 4,655 litres of total passenger space, the Sienna is a living room on wheels. Having that much volume is great, because there’s less chance that the kids will be rubbing shoulders. And nagging. And arguing. And screaming.
And the family man hates playing trunk Tetris. Not because he isn’t up for a challenge, but because he’s wise enough to know that when it’s time to head for the cottage or to the in-laws, his wife will pack everything that isn’t bolted to a wall or that can’t get through the house front door. In short, all that stuff will fit by simply throwing it in the 2,466-litre cargo area. To hell with the golden, he can just lay on top of the pile.
The family man’s wallet got thinner
A 2012 Toyota Sienna SE is listed at $36,825. A decent price for what you get, and a couple grand cheaper than the equally “sporty” Dodge Grand Caravan R/T.
Although the family man has to cope with the emasculation process in owning a minivan, at least he knows the Toyota Sienna won’t require any other major sacrifices. Peace of mind is not a bad thing to have when you have a family to take care of.
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