Toyota unveils new Sienna minivan at LA Auto Show

AP News
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Posted: Dec 02, 2009 5:43 PM

Toyota unveiled new versions of its Sienna minivan at the Los Angeles Auto Show on Wednesday, with an eye toward capturing a bigger slice of the minivan market.

The Sienna is currently lagging behind the top-selling Honda Odyssey, Dodge Caravan and Chrysler Town and Country. Toyota sold 75,509 Siennas in the first 11 months of this year.

Even if the Sienna grabs a larger piece of the pie, that pie has been shrinking. Minivan sales, already on a downward trend as families gravitated to crossovers and SUVs, fell 32 percent through November. Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co. have pulled out of the minivan market altogether.

That isn't deterring Toyota.

"Other manufacturers have been leading this segment and we see an opportunity," said Bob Carter, group vice president and general manager of Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc. "We believe the minivan is poised to rebound and young families will lead the way."

The 2011 Sienna is the third-generation of the model and Toyota packed the new design with features that it hopes will set the Sienna apart from other vehicles in its class.

Among the fancier options available are dual-power sliding doors, a panoramic rearview camera monitor and a 16.4-inch flat-screen television that flips open from the ceiling. Passengers can view a movie on the full screen or go into a split-screen setting and view a movie on one side while playing a video game on the other.

The Sienna boasts wider doors than previous models and can accommodate up to eight passengers. The second-row seats can be shifted forward behind the front seats, and the third-row seats can be stowed flat, creating a cargo-carrying area that's about eight feet long and four feet wide, Toyota said.

Sienna will be available in five variations, including a sporty SE and a high-end Limited edition. Toyota is offering two engine types for the Sienna _ a 2.7-liter, four-cylinder engine or a 3.5-liter, 266-horsepower V6.

The Sienna hits showrooms in February, although Toyota won't say yet what its starting price will be.

Carter noted it will be priced lower than the current model, however. On the company's Web site, the Sienna is listed as starting at $24,540.