2010 Toyota Sienna (courtesy Toyota)
2010 Toyota Venza, look for a similar grille on the 2011 Sienna
While in the process of giving an interview to a local Indiana television station regarding Highlander production, Toyota officials let it slip that the all-new 2011 Sienna will begin production there in January of 2010. To directly quote the interview,
We also learned the plant (Princeton, Indiana) will have a new Sienna coming out in January.
News of a 2011 Sienna comes as no shock, but it is nice to finally have an exact date for the start of production. 2011 will actually see three new minivans, one each from Toyota, Honda and Nissan.
What can we expect from the 2011 model? Spy photos show us a front end heavily influenced by the Venza. Overall, Toyota has done quite well with the current generation, so do not expect anything too radical on the outside. Just enough to let buyer's know that it is truly a new model.
A six speed automatic is a lock. One would also hope that the Sienna's in car entertainment (ICE) gets a serious upgrade. The current Sienna's navigation system wins no awards and compared to the Chrysler Town and Country, the Sienna's video entertainment system is woeful. You cannot even get satellite radio (it has to be dealer installed) let alone satellite television and just one shrimpy monitor with no hard drive. Traffic updates would be nice to have for the navigation system as would fuel prices, movie times, etc. The more user friendly and technologically advanced Toyota can make the Sienna's ICE, the better. Look for techie toys like wide-view side monitor found on the 2010 Lexus RX and other active safety features.
The Sienna is the last van standing when it comes to available AWD a claim that you would expect Toyota to want to hold onto, but it is entirely possible that it might go away or only be available in the hybrid model. Let us face it, the Sienna AWD's run flat tires have incurred a lot of criticism.
The question becomes, does the new van debut at December's Los Angeles Auto Show or January's North American International Auto Show in Detroit? Given the minivan's lack of a marquee billing, the LA show could be a possibility, but Toyota may wish to maximize 2010 Sienna sales and debut the van later in the model year.