Pricing starts at $41,050 in Canada.
The LE has all the right features and can get the job done as I found out first hand.
Even so, sign me up for an XSE AWD
The summer of 2022 marked the return of the Road Trip for many Canadians. Indeed, and according to Toyota According to the Annual Survey of Summer Road Trips in Canada, 77% of us plan to hit the road this summer. After basically being forced to stay home for two years, the urge to explore had to be eliminated. My family and I had a massive itch and frankly, I couldn’t think of a better vehicle for a family vacation of six for a week than the best minivan on the market: The Toyota Sienna.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but minivans are better at being utility vehicles than any SUV, and the latest generation Toyota Sienna is the best of its kind. For the job of hauling four adults, two kids, luggage, beach toys, and chairs, and without needing to refuel every few hundred miles, it was basically the only choice.
Speaking of choices, our pick for an oceanside family vacation spot is Old Orchard Beach, Maine. It’s about a 30 minute drive southwest of Portland, one of my favorite small and big cities in the US. The beaches there are beautiful, well maintained and, until recently, it was a fairly affordable destination. The route from Montreal takes us through the White Mountain National Forest and many twists and turns while traversing the back roads of Maine. In all, it’s just under 500 km one-way, but due to the many two-lane roads, it takes about seven hours to reach.
Critical space and comfort
Since my children still need large booster seats for travel, they were installed in the second row. And, as there were four adults on board, that meant two of us were going to spend an inordinate amount of time in the third row.
With the functionality of the Sienna, I was able to position the 2nd row seats (minus the removable center portion) in a position that gave 3rd row passengers plenty of room to move between rows and gave them a lot leg room. Up front, all you had to do was slip in.
Again, when it comes to functionality, the Sienna’s standard power sliding side doors are a blessing, as are the two-level handles. Combined, children can effortlessly open doors, climb in, close doors and buckle up without any help. Yes, an electric hatch and smart access would have been welcome to the editions. See below:
As you can see in the video and pictures, every inch has been used. The Thule roof box was used to carry beachwear and a few other items and, let’s face it, made the Sienna even cooler.
Let’s go !
Loaded up with everyone and everything, we left early to avoid the weekday morning traffic. Immediately, everyone on board felt comfortable with the seating arrangement. The journey was smooth as the objective was not only to arrive at the destination but to minimize fuel consumption.
Nevertheless, we made many supplies to take bathroom breaks and stretch our legs. The familiar road to the Eastern Townships brought with it informal conversations and a sense of well-being. Crossing the border into Vermont was uneventful, but we had already entered Appalachia. The cooler air at about 2,000 feet up was invigorating, but we had only just begun to climb.
Conversations conducted in 2022 Toyota Siena across highways 91 and 93, and even at speeds slightly above the posted speed limits of 65 or 70 mph, the cabin of the hybrid van remained quiet enough that shouting at each other was unnecessary.
Before driving off I selected the ECO drive mode as I discovered some time ago that it limited the eCVT’s overzealousness in accelerating from a stop and dulled the response throttle just enough to reduce the powertrain’s desire to rev up quickly. With that in mind, I was able to roll gently on the throttle in anticipation of an upcoming climb.
Highway 302, from the 93, leads into the White Mountain National Forest and passes through a few small towns like Bethlehem. Lower speeds gave us a taste of late 18th century architecture, rolling hills, views over 4,000 feet, beautiful golf courses and, eventually, upscale shopping.
In North Conway we had breakfast for lunch at a well known local restaurant called Peach’s. Some shopping ensued at outlets, but few actual deals were to be made. We quickly crossed Maine and found ourselves traversing some rather dramatic winding roads with abrupt elevation changes. Here, a GR Supra would have been better suited to tackling peaks and ridges but, to everyone’s amazement but my own, the Sienna, loaded down as it was, maneuvered them with ease and poise.
With steady hands advising well-calibrated steering and one foot per pedal, I enjoyed the experience, as did my passengers. In truth, the rearmost passengers never complained of car sickness or being bounced off any surface.
Ready to unload and head to the beach
We finally stopped at the rented house about nine hours after we left. With more than 500 km under its belt, covered in all imaginable conditions, including traffic and highway speeds, the average fuel consumption displayed was an incredible 6.8 L/100 km, slightly less of 35 mpg (US MPG).
During our stay, we traveled to nearby towns. At one point, the average dropped to an incredible 6.6 liters. Remember, this 2022 Toyota Sienna LE was loaded with over 1,100 pounds (my estimate) of people, bags and gear. Also, the Thule box on the roof didn’t help with aerodynamics.
Thanks to my lumbar pillow, my passengers and I were in great shape to hit the beach even after a long day on the road thanks to the Sienna’s comfortable and quiet ride.
The final tally
The return trip took us from Maine to New Hampshire, through Vermont and finally into New York State before returning to Canada. Average speeds were slower on the way back but we did a few hundred more miles.
Before returning the Sienna, we had covered 1,350 km and consumed only 6.7 L/100 km. If it were a Sienna LE AWD, it would have been priced at $42,850 (up $1,800 from the FWD LE) and fuel consumption would have increased by about 0.2 L/ 100 km according to Toyota figures.
Simply put, no other minivan (including PHEV) or SUV (hybrids and all-inclusives) would have done better in terms of fuel economy. Bottom line, short of a compact hybrid SUV or a car, no other vehicle would have pulled off such incredible numbers. And it would only get worse with a trailer in tow to carry the extra stuff and at least one passenger…