- - Saturday, January 31, 2015

It’s the ultimate mommy vehicle. With a variety of trim levels and a 2015 refresh, the Toyota Sienna is sturdier this year with simple tweaks to the interior and quality material, which also mean a real breath of fresh air.

Competition in this minivan class includes the Honda Odyssey, Kia Sedona, Dodge Caravan and the Nissan Quest - strong rivalry for this boxy, yet conservative set of wheels.

Trims on the 2015 Toyota Sienna minivan are the Base L, LE, SE, XLE and Limited and from there the SE, XLE and Limited have sub-trim options too. On the LE and XLE it is either a seven- or eight-passenger option with the L being a seven-passenger only and the SE an eight-passenger only configuration.

Beginning with the L trim, you get 17-inch alloy wheels, tow prep package, manual sliding rear doors, automatic headlights, triple-zone automatic climate control and a rearview camera along with Bluetooth phone and audio connect as well as a 6.1-inch touchscreen with USB/iPod and an auxiliary audio jack.

For the LE in the all-wheel drive version, it is 18-inch wheels, roof rails, power-sliding side doors, a privacy glass, heated mirrors, floor and overhead consoles, an eight-way power driver seat and upgraded upholstery. There are also sunshades on the second and third rows and a 7-inch touchscreen with satellite radio.

The SE is a bit sportier with the LE trim goodies as well a unique styling with 19-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, LED running lights, lower exterior body skirting, tighter suspension, a power liftgate, leather upholstery on the first two rows, heated front seats and gauges designed with a larger display. Add onto that with the Premium sub-trim and you also get a sunroof, keyless ignition and entry, blind-spot and rear-cross-traffic warning systems, navigation system and a larger, split screen for dual displays.

On the XLE, it is the SE trim with more comfortable equipment that includes the LE trim’s steering and styling. Both the XLE and upgraded XLE Premium trim offer a four-way power front-passenger seat and power-opening rear quarter windows. If the seven seat option is chosen, there are captain’s chairs in the second row with foot rests.

On the Limited, it’s the XLE Premium’s goodies with 18-inch alloy wheels, a unique grille design, LED running lights, auto-dimming/power-folding mirrors with sunroofs in the front and rear, and parking sensors in the front and back too. As well, expect upgraded leather seating and a heated steering wheel with third-row seats that fold.

Some of the features in the higher end trims can be had on the lower trims, but most come in packages that must be purchased together. For example, the Advanced Technology package not only offers the forward collision-warning system, but also adaptive cruise control as well.

Under the hood, the 2015 Toyota Sierra is front-wheel drive standard, but the LE, XLE and Limited comes with the option of all-wheel drive as well. Add this to the 3.5-liter V6 engine with 266 horsepower and 245 pound-feet of torque with a six-speed automatic transmission.

Safety features are standard antilock disc brakes; stability and traction control; front-seat side, full-length side curtain, driver-side knee and front passenger-seat cushion airbags as well as active front head restraints and a rearview camera on all trim levels.

For more safety options, there are blind-spot and rear cross-traffic monitoring systems and front and rear parking sensors or, on the Limited, there is a forward collision warning system too.

While it’s a minivan and that means load up the passengers, there is also a sturdier feeling behind the wheel than in years past with handling being right on target. On the upper trims the style is undeniable with wood cabin features and leather, but even the less expensive trims boast good quality upholstery inside.

Built for up to eight passengers, there is a 40/20/40-split second-row bench and the center section slides close to the front seat if necessary. There’s 150-cubic-feet of cargo space when fully engaged meaning taking out the second-row seats and the captain’s seats, when in use are comfortable and easy to maneuver.

Interior controls are also easy to use from the navigation system to the smartphone connect capabilities and indeed, everyone can enjoy the ride in this Sienna since backseat passengers have a rear-seat entertainment system. In some cases, this entertainment system will also play not only a movie on one of the split screens, but a video game enthusiast can stay busy on the other side of the screen too.

Plenty of acceleration offered on the 2015 Toyota Sienna whether gathering family provisions or taking a road trip and the ride is comfortable no matter the seat. On the sportier SE trim even the steering and handling comes in stronger than in years past, which means an overall confidence when driving particularly when there is a load of passengers for a long or short haul.

Should You Need to Know: The 2015 Toyota Sienna has a very user-friendly Entune touchscreen that comes with every trim level.

Miles Per Gallon: The 2015 Toyota Sienna I drove was a Limited trim with 18 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway.

Cost: The 2015 Toyota Sienna Limited I drove had a price tag of $47,705.

For more auto tips and information follow Rita @RitaCook13.

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