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Assembled in the USA from 100% Chinese parts.

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18th February 2009

10:44am: Sometimes, the most polite answer I can give is silence.
11:51am: Road report: Toyota Sienna.
It isn't often I find myself renting a car and saying, "You know, I could see myself buying one of these." Even less often does it happen when the car in question is a minivan. Last week was one of those times.

I've rented my share of minivans, both for work and because I'd been saddled with one when the location is out of anything reasonable. Generally, the minivans that I get are underpowered, unmaneuverable wallowing behemoths that have trouble getting out of their own way.

Alamo/National at Logan has the great feature that if you use their self-service kiosk, you get to choose any car in the car class you've reserved. I went out to the lot and was confronted with a row of minivans, only one of which appeared to have Massachusetts plates. I picked that one, which happened to be a Sienna. It turned out to be an excellent choice.

First of all, the thing has some serious balls. We loaded seven adults into the thing. I found myself apologizing for the acceleration. Pulling away from the Mass Pike tolls the thing flew off the line when I put my foot down. And it did it with authority, smoothly and without fuss.

Moreover, I expected it would be hard to maneuver, but a couple of tight U-turns--not on the Pike--demonstrated that it's turning radius was much tighter than I would have expected. I didn't put that to the test at any real speed, but the limited maneuvering I did do made me feel fairly confident, as there wasn't a great deal of body lean when cornering, at least not compared to other minivans.

After all of that, it still got 19 mpg.

I'm not in the market for a minivan. Nonetheless Toyota has done it again and produced another example of why they're the world's most successful car manufacturer. And I'd certainly consider a Sienna in the unlikely event I were ever shopping for a minivan.
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