SALT LAKE CITY, Utah -- In bumper-to-bumper traffic on the snow-coated South State Street in downtown Salt Lake City, we're riding high and secure in the driver's bucket of Toyota's sleek and luxurious 2015 Sienna Limited Premium minivan equipped with sure-footed all-wheel-drive traction.
As the only family minivan offering an all-wheel drive option, the 2015 Sienna also provides a standard Tow Prep package good for lugging a 3500-pound trailer.
All five trim levels on 2015 Sienna editions score fresh exterior styling and upgrades for interior materials.
Then there's a new parent-friendly option labeled Driver Easy Speak that's the equivalent of using a bullhorn to project the driver's voice way back to third-row riders. The clever device utilizes a microphone on Sienna's voice-command multi-media system to transmit the driver's voice through the audio system's rear speakers.
Sienna for 2015 builds upon the third-generation Sienna of 2011 with expressive new exterior styling refinements including a revised front grille and slim headlight units.
A dominant face for Sienna shows a broad grille scored with body-colored fins and an enlarged low intake valence stretched from corner to corner, plus canted lamp clusters of an irregular format mounted at the top of front corners with larger projector-type low-beam lamps drilling round points in shimmering acrylic caps.
The aerodynamic body features a low-sloping hood and a raked windshield leading to a rather flat lid over the cabin with a long streak of dark windows on side doors due to muted roof pillars.
A stretched front-wheel-drive (FWD) platform derived from Toyota's Camry sedan supports the slick aerodynamic structure of this minivan outfitted with an expansive passenger compartment filled with three rows of flexible seating plus cargo space in the aft bay with access through a tail-side liftgate.
Sienna 2015 trims out in five variations badged as Sienna, LE, SE, XLE and Limited, plus deluxe Premium grades available for SE, XLE and Limited.
All versions pack the same powertrain: Toyota's aluminum 3.5-liter V6 engine with dual camshafts plus dual VVT-i (variable valve timing with intelligence), producing 266 hp at 6200 rpm and torque of 245 lb-ft at 4700 rpm.
The exclusive transmission is an electronically controlled 6-speed automatic with intelligent shift control and sequential shifting.
For optional all-wheel-drive (AWD) traction, Toyota's electronically controlled system switches continuously and automatically between FWD and AWD for dependable tire grip -- which makes Sienna a practical choice in Snow Belt states.
On tap to help stop the vehicle are four disc brakes linked to the anti-lock brake system (ABS) with brake assist (BA) and electronic brake-force distribution (EBD).
Additional electronic controls include vehicle stability control (VSC), which corrects lateral skidding, plus traction control (TRAC) to check wheel spin and Toyota's smart stop technology (SST).
In the expansive cabin, Sienna 2015 provides three tiers of seats.
The first row houses two tall captain's chairs with broad seats to fit a variety of American body sizes.
On the second row in 7-passenger cabins a pair of captain's chairs slide forward and backward by 23 inches -- they move rearward to maximize legroom or come forward close to front seats for a child rider. Second-row buckets also tip forward to make more cargo room, or they may be removed easily by flipping latches. With Sienna Limited models the second-row Lounge Seating buckets recline fully and add pop-out foot rests.
In Sienna's 8-passenger cabins, the 40/20/40-split second-row seat has a center seat tucked between the two buckets and it may be removed and stowed in the rear bay.
The third-row Split & Stow seat folds flat with one motion as seatbacks split 60/40.
Toyota casts MSRP figures for the 2015 Sienna upward from $28,600 for the entry-level Sienna FWD. Top model Sienna Limited AWD runs up from $46,150.