When the new third-generation 2011 Toyota Sienna shows up in dealerships next February, parents should head straight to their closest dealer after dropping the kids at soccer. Notice we didn't say "Moms." We said "parents." Although other minivan makers have attempted to butch up their people movers in the past, those efforts have been mostly lamentable. Toyota, on the other hand, has actually made a van (there's nothing mini about this new Sienna) that arguably looks sporty enough to chip away at the undeserved mommy-mobile stigma of the class. Don't let that purse tray dissuade you.
And if NASCAR dads drag their feet a bit before heading over to trade in the old Previa or Chevrolet Suburban, they may choose the sportier SE in the showroom come April. While even the base Sienna will boast a design theme that looks surprisingly assertive, the SE adds an aggressive body kit and 19-inch six-spoke wheels to go with its stiffer suspension and remapped transmission programming. There's also a different grille and clear tail lamps. Unfortunately, there won't be a TRD supercharger underhood or even a cold air intake or freer-flowing exhaust to up the power, but on looks alone, this thing might have what it takes to broaden the appeal of minivans to the XY set.
Debuting at the LA Auto Show today, the 2011 Sienna looks like a more macho 2009 Sienna cross-bred with Toyota's Venza crossover. The family resemblance is striking, particularly from the rear. Nifty details are to be found all around – things like the cleverly hidden high-mounted rear wiper. Toyota promises that this third-generation Sienna will also drive more like a sedan while still swallowing people and cargo with equal ease.
We've had an advanced in-person look at this model, and the seven or eight people who find themselves filling the seats inside this new Sienna figure to be impressed by the Lexus-like interior with its new three-tone color scheme, ample use of wood, and clever luxury touches. Particularly "wow" inducing are the wooden swoosh across the dash, the second row seats with their integrated retractable leg rests that slide a long way forward to grant access to the power-operated 60/40 Split & Stow third row, and the 16-inch dual view LCD screen for rear seat entertainment. Yes, sixteen.
Built on a revised version of the outgoing platform, the 2011 Sienna has the same wheelbase but is slightly shorter, lower and wider than its predecessor. It will be available in five different trim levels: Sienna grade, LE, SE, XLE and Limited. All-wheel-drive will still be available on V6-powered LE, XLE and Limited models. That V6 is the same 3.5-liter Dual Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i) unit available today, with 266 horsepower. The engine is stout enough to give the Sienna a 3,500-pound tow capacity while returning mileage of 18 mpg city and 24 mpg highway. Also available in Sienna and LE will be the VVT-i 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine with 187 horses and a slight bump in mileage to 19/26.
We'll have lots to say about this new Sienna after our first drive in a couple of weeks, but for now, you can read more about it in the press release we've pasted after the jump and check out high-res shots in our gallery below.