Tag: Toyota

2015 Toyota Sienna SE Short Take Review

The 2015 Toyota Sienna SE is a good minivan.  I know, I know, it’s Blog of Speed, but we all need to cart around people and gear from time to time, and minivans do the trick nicely.  This particular minivan happens to be quite a good value.  At just under $40,000, this Toyota Sienna SE has everything you could want in a family hauler- leather with deviated stitching, seating for 7-8 depending on equipment, heated seats, a big infotainment system, and rear seat entertainment screens.

Relevant driving impressions- suspension is a bit soft and leans into turns, but steering feel is surprisingly decent.  It’s a bit over assisted, but road feel is good.  The Toyota Sienna has a 266 horsepower 3.5 liter V6 and is peppy and gives you what you ask for, highway passing power is more than adequate as well.  All seats are comfortable, and the fold and tumble rear seats work nicely and give a flat load floor.  The middle seats are a bit clunky to take in and out, but I doubt many people will use this as a cargo vehicle.  Other vehicles in the segment have fold and tumble second row seats, and I thought this was a curious omission on this Toyota Sienna, especially with a relatively high step-in height for the middle and rear passengers.

The infotainment system is good, with Toyota’s familiar Entune setup and a very clear and large touchscreen.  The system is a little laggy and there are prettier user interfaces out there, but the sound quality was very good and overall easy enough to use.  Bluetooth microphone quality is not great though, and I relied on my handset most of the time.

All in all, the Toyota Sienna SE is a good value and a rather good minivan.  It looks sharp in this SE trim, and handles decently (for a minivan).  I really do hope Toyota bring something special for the next generation Sienna, I just feel the minivan market is under appreciated and stagnant.  A real focus on driving dynamics could really revive the segment in my humble opinion.  If you need a minivan, it’s definitely high in the running.


2015 Toyota 4Runner Trail Road Test Review

The 2015 Toyota 4Runner Trail is in rare company-  With FJ Cruiser production coming to an end, it’s one of the only modestly sized body-on-frame SUVs out there.  I can’t think of many other than the Jeep Wrangler.  Make no mistake- this is a truck.  With crossovers becoming so much more mainstream and capable off road trucks disappearing, how does the 4runner fare in everyday driving?  Is it still relevant?  I think so.

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2014 Toyota Avalon Hybrid Short Take Review

I’ve had a lot of Toyota hybrids over the years, and they’re quite good.  This 2014 Toyota Avalon Hybrid is no exception.  While it’s similar to it’s Lexus cousin, the Avalon is more affordable, and slightly less luxurious.  The suspension is soft and comfortable, the steering is light without too much road feel, but you’d expect that in a comfortable daily driver like the Avalon.  The Avalon has room for 5 actual adults.  Rear legroom is downright huge.  The interior is quiet and supple, it’s just a really nice car.

The hybrid drivetrain is good as usual.  I got almost 40mpg in combined city and highway, even in heavy traffic.  The Avalon has a good amount of power, however it takes a while to access it.  The CVT transmission is always smooth but can be a bit lazy.  Power delivery feels like the CVT is “spooling up” for a few seconds.  Instant response isn’t there, but when you need it the Avalon has more than enough passing power.  The standard V6 in the Avalon is more responsive, but doesn’t get as good gas mileage.  Whether or not the hybrid is worth the $2300 difference between it and it’s non hybrid sibling will depend on how much you drive.

Overall the Avalon Hybrid is a fantastic and comfortable 5 passenger sedan.  I can’t really think of anything that competes with it.  Most manufacturers are going for sport sedan attributes, and this car is geared towards comfort while getting fantastic fuel economy.  If you’re looking for a relaxed everyday car, the Avalon is a great choice.  It doesn’t really have any sporting credentials, but it doesn’t try to either, and I’m OK with that.  Great all around car.

A Hybrid for the Luxury Masses: The 2013 Lexus ES300 Hybrid

2013 Lexus ES300 Hybrid

I was curious to see what I felt about the Lexus ES300 Hybrid when it arrived in my driveway.  The exterior and interior were similar to the regular ES300 aside for a few hybrid badges.  My schedule got hectic and I didn’t take any pictures, and the weather wasn’t cooperating with me;  I’ll attach some spec photos after the article.  The exterior distinction lends itself well to the car in a way: the hybrid system blends in as seamlessly into the driving experience as the car does into the non-hybrid car landscape.

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2012 Toyota Yaris Road Test

2012 Toyota Yaris

2012 Toyota Yaris


This is going to be a bit of a departure from my last review: going from 580 to 106 horsepower is a bit of a tough process.  Forgive me if I didn’t take video, there isn’t terribly much exciting that this car can do while filming.  To be quite honest, I expected to hate the little quirky Toyota.   – Read More –