The Toyota Sienna - Orlando / Florida Guide
Florida Guide > Travelling
This year whilst vacationing in Orlando we were to be joined by both my in-laws and my own parents, bringing our total party size up to 8. As both sets of parents are now elderly neither of them wished to drive so this presented me with the challenge of finding a vehicle that could accommodate 8 people.
At first I had visions of having to rent one of the large square looking mini-buses which are fine but functional in their design. In my favour was a lack of luggage. As the parents were travelling independently of my family we did not need a large luggage capability. I immediately thought of a mini-van (people mover), but these generally have an upper limit of 7 seats, as do most of the larger SUVs.
After some investigation I was delighted to discover the existence of the Toyota Sienna and its ready availability from Alamo car rental. The Toyota Sienna appears to be the only MPV in its class to offer 8 seats instead of 7. With no luggage issues it was the obvious choice. We drove our existing SUV down to Orlando airport and then took a new rental for the Sienna. Alamo allow customers to go to the parking lot and actually select their vehicle so I spent time searching for a clean and sweet smelling example. These vehicles seemed to be very popular as some were quite well used. I managed to get the second best example having just been pipped to the post by a fellow renter.
By the time I had got the vehicle out of the parking lot the second set of parents had arrived on the BA flight - perfect timing for collection at departures.
The Sienna was surprisingly good to drive with a suspension system that wasn' t too soft allowing the vehicle to remain upright and stable on the road. This helps prevent the passengers feeling ' sea sick' . The layout comprises of 2 captain seats in the front with a mid and rear positioned bench seat arrangement providing for the remaining 6 seats. The Sienna is really no larger than equivalent 7 seat MPVs, it just the layout that differs. Even with all 8 seats occupied there is still some boot space in which you could easily accommodate 2 suitcases and some hand luggage. This proved useful when I had to drive the entire family party to the shopping malls. A particularly nice touch with the Sienna, and one the elderly parents appreciated, were the motorised rear sliding doors. This made opening and closing them simplistic, especially as they could also be operated by the driver via some push buttons close to the rear view mirror.
On the road the Sienna proved very capable. It utilises a V6 3. 5 litre engine which was ample power to propel a full load without strain or sluggishness. The ride was comfortable and quiet which is always one of my priorities when renting.
So, if you need an 8 seater but do not necessary need to accommodate 8 peoples luggage then the Sienna is just about perfect.
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Page added on: 8 February 2011
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