2017 Toyota Sienna: 3rd Row Seat Space, Child Car Seat Placement, Folding Down Seats

As I have just returned with my family from our fall “Road Trip to the Boonies”, I can confirm the Sienna has plenty of room; especially in the very back. In this 390 word blog post, I will show you a few pictures and share some videos I made, to help you get a better idea of what to expect as far as cargo space in the 2017 Toyota Sienna.

3rd Row Seat Space

I always feel I serve as the perfect model to test out the seat space in the 3rd row seats of vehicles, because of my size: I am 5’ 9” and 160-something pounds. Therefore, I am a good average of most adults, being taller than most women but slightly shorter than most men.

When I sit in the back seat of the 2017 Toyota Sienna, I still have clearance for not only my knees but also my head. It’s just not an issue. So as long as you’re my size or smaller, fitting in the 3rd row seat, even for a long amount of time, really shouldn’t be an issue.

Child Car Seat Placement

For our 6 hour trip to Boone, North Carolina and then our 6 hour trip back, our 16 month-old daughter rode in her car seat which I placed on the passenger side captain’s chair. That way, either my wife or I (whoever wasn’t driving) could tend to her.

Our 1st grader son sat in the 3rd row seat. I was testing out a new booster seat that I am reviewing here on my blog, so half the time he was on the driver’s side and the other half, the passenger’s side.

Even with the car seat and the booster seats, there was plenty of room to get in, out, and through the cabin of the Sienna.

Folding Down the Seats

The edition of the Sienna that I drove was fully decked out, so for me, all I had to do was just press the black button once I opened the back door. Instead of me describing it, the easiest thing to do is just watch my video below.

As if the 2017 Toyota Sienna was spacious enough already, it really opens up once you fold down or back the 3rd row seats.

Thanks for checking out Family Friendly Daddy Blog today. I hope this helps!

Dear Jack: Strutting Your Stuff During Our Family’s Walk at the Park on Kennedy Trail in Boone, North Carolina

6 years, 9 months.

Dear Jack,

On Sunday, the sunniest day of our family’s fall “Road Trip to the Boonies” in the 2017 Toyota Sienna, your Uncle Tom suggested we all leave the cabin and talk a walk in a nearby park. So we made our way down the mountain and ended up on Kennedy Trail.

Once we all got moving on the path, I immediately thought back to when I was packing the Sienna when I asked myself, “Should I pack the double-stroller and my skateboard?” I easily had room to pack them, in addition to our luggage.

I am known in our neighborhood in Spring Hill, Tennessee for being the 36 year-old dad who skateboards while pushing his 2 kids in the stroller. But I figured the chances of needing a double-stroller and skateboard with staying up in a cabin at the top of a mountain in Boone, North Carolina were quite unlikely.

Oh well, I was wrong. This park would have been perfect for me to do that, as skateboarding college kids were everywhere.

It was fine though, because earlier that morning, your cousin Taylore and I had ran for 25 minutes going down then back up the mountain our cabin was on.

So instead of wearing out my calves anymore that day, I spent most of that 90 minutes working out my arms and back, as I served as your sister’s human chariot.

Meanwhile, you enjoyed being the default leader of the 12 of us, as you ran ahead, looking for cool stuff; like a giant caterpillar.

It became apparent to Mommy and me just how grown up and independent our little boy had become. You were just out there being a boy.

Jumping, climbing, getting sweaty. Having Mommy and me tell you to stop throwing rocks.

I was able to catch a glimpse of you as a preteen. You just seemed like a cool dude, like in that Violent Femme’s song from 1983: “When I go walkin’, I strut my stuff…”

Thanks to Uncle Tom suggested our visit to the park, a dozen people had a great time. While the cabin was awesome, it was good to take advantage of a nice day down in the valley.

Love,

Daddy

Toyota Family Vehicles Comparison: Highlander vs. 4Runner vs. Sienna (By Guest Blogger, Brenan Greene of Trail4Runner.com)

Highlander vs. the 4Runner vs. the Sienna

When it comes to choosing the right type of vehicle for your family – one that truly fits your lifestyle and needs – there are many options to choose from and picking the right vehicle can prove a daunting task. Consider Toyota’s mid-sized SUV offerings – the Highlander, the Toyota 4Runner – and the Toyota Sienna minivan.

The vehicle you choose will depend on your unique needs and preferences. Should you go with the kid-friendly minivan or a standard family-friendly mid-size SUV? That is the question. While all three vehicles are typically family-oriented vehicles, the 4Runner stands out for its ruggedness and off-road capability.

We recommend the 4Runner for families who will be using their vehicle for outdoor, off-road trails and adventures as it performs optimally in mud and dirt. It also has a good ground clearance – up to 9.6” – which makes it great for off-road applications. The 5th Gen 4Runner also offers a ton of room for improvement through 4Runner mods and accessories.

The Sienna minivan and Highlander are more suited for daily errands, family outings and road trips. Check out our full road trip experience in the Sienna for a more detailed look into the Sienna. And, for an overview and review on the Highlander, take a look at the full 2014 Highlander Review for a better look inside.

But first? Don’t you sorta gotta have this awesome Toyota hoodie? Click here for the best deal on Amazon!

toyota

To help you make a well-informed decision before purchasing, let’s take a closer look at each vehicle’s unique characteristics and compare. We will be looking at the 2015 base models of these vehicles for easier comparison.

Interior

The interior of the Highlander is posh, sleek and family-friendly, with soft surfaces and simple controls. The Sienna’s interior is spacious, stylish and sleek, also designed to be family-friendly. On the other hand, the 4Runner’s interior features hard surfaces and looks similar to the inside cabin of a pickup truck. It has a more sturdy, rugged look.

Exterior

The 4Runner, with its rugged construction, looks less refined and sleek than the Highlander and Sienna. It looks like a vehicle that can handle the demands of off-road terrains – strong and sturdy. There are many different models of the 4Runner, so there is something for every family out there. But, most of them have a similar design, look and feel. The Highlander and Sienna have clean simple lines, and while not as rugged as the 5th Gen 4Runner, they still pack a stunning look and feel.

Seating

The standard 5th Generation 4Runner comes with 2 rows of seating with the option for a 3rd row. Keep in mind that this optional 3rd row is designed to fit kids only. If you have babies, toddlers or even grown children, you want to check out the Third-Row 4Runner. This will give you the best options for seating and transporting your little ones’ about. Adults can and will fit but it sure is tight. The 2015 Highlander and 2015 Sienna both have three rows of seating. The Highlander can accommodate up to 8 passengers while the Sienna can accommodate up to 7 or 8 passengers, depending on the vehicle configuration you choose to go with.

Comfort

In terms of the level of comfort offered by each vehicle, the 4Runner offers the least comfortable ride. This is due to its rugged, body-on-frame construction design. The uni-body frame of the Highlander provides a quieter, more comfortable ride than the 4Runner. The suspension system of the Highlander is designed for maximum shock absorption as you drive over bumps while the 4Runner tends to hit these bumps hard, making the ride less smooth.

The Sienna’s suspension is also designed for optimal shock absorption as you navigate bumps and uneven surfaces. The large sliding doors of the Sienna make it convenient for passengers – especially 3rd-row passengers – to enter and exit the vehicle easily.

With all of this being said, there a ton of options to increase the 4Runner’s ride and performance through aftermarket suspension systems. And, once you put an aftermarket suspension system on a 4Runner, you will have a smoother, more dependable on and off-road experience. If you are a camping family, the 4Runner is a solid choice.

Storage Capacity/Cargo Space

When the 2nd and 3rd rows of the Highlander are folded, you have 83.7 cubic feet of cargo storage space. With the 4Runner, folding the 3rd row accommodates 46.3 cubic feet of cargo while removing the 2nd row gives you 89.7 cubic feet of cargo space. The Sienna’s 3rd row folds to store 87.1 cubic feet of cargo while removing the 2nd row gives you 150 cubic feet of storage space. In terms of cargo space, the Sienna is the clear winner.

Towing Capacity

The 4Runner can tow up to 4700 pounds while the Sienna can tow up to 3500 pounds. For the average family, the Sienna’s towing capacity is more than enough for towing loads like a boat, for instance. The base model of the Highlander has a 1500-pound towing capacity while the V6 model can tow up to 5000 pounds.

Horsepower

The base model (3.5L V6) of the Sienna offers a maximum of 266 horsepower and 263 pound-feet of torque as opposed to the standard 2.7L 4-cylinder Highlander which cranks out only 185 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. However, you also have the option of a 3.5L V6 Highlander which offers 270 horsepower. The standard 4.0L V6 base engine of the 2015 4Runner produces a maximum of 270 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque.

Fuel Economy/Efficiency

The Highlander wins when it comes to fuel economy. Its 20/25 mpg city/hwy beats the Sienna (18/25 mpg city/hwy) and the 4Runner’s 17/22 mpg city/hwy.

Safety

In crash tests conducted by the federal government’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the 4Runner earned a mere 4-star rating. The 4Runner is the loser when it comes to safety features as they are quite limited when compared to the features in the other two vehicles. It has a standard backup camera as well as front and rear parking sensors.

Compare this with the Highlander which boasts a perfect 5-star rating. The Highlander is also rated highly by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, earning a Top Safety Pick+ rating. This is due to its many safety features including lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, automatic braking with forward collision warning and rear cross traffic alert.

The Sienna features a Star Safety System and can be configured to include other safety-maximizing features including Pre-Collision System and Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert. Other safety features include emergency trunk release, lane departure warning, and 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes. The Sienna earns a Top Safety Pick+ from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and an overall 5-star rating by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Who Takes the Family Vehicle Cake?

As you can see, all three vehicles are great options. The vehicle you decide to go with will depend on your preferences. If you want a family vehicle for everyday use, without the stigma of driving an uncool minivan, the Highlander would be your best bet.

On the other hand, if you are more of the adventurous type that likes to explore trails and need a vehicle that can handle off-road terrains, consider going with the rugged and dependable 4Runner.

The Sienna is convenient for families with children as the sliding doors make it easy for them to enter and exit the vehicle seamlessly.

In my overall opinion, I would choose a Highlander or a 5th Gen 4Runner.

Brenan Greene of Trail4Runner.com

DISCLOSURE LANGUAGE

Trail4Runner.com, partnered with bloggers such as me for this program. As part of this program, I received compensation for my time. They did not tell me what to purchase or what to say about any product mentioned in these posts. Trail4Runner.com believes that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. Trail4Runner.com policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, FTC guidelines and social media engagement recommendations.

The Swagger Wagon or the Slumber Wagon? Sleeping in the 2017 Toyota Sienna with My 16 Month-Old Daughter in the Hotel Parking Lot

While I’m happy that my wife and son slept in the glorious Fairfield Inn & Suites in West Knoxville, it’s true my daughter and I were out in the parking lot, in the shelter of the 2017 Toyota Sienna.

We were halfway to our destination of our Boone, North Carolina for our fall “Road Trip to the Boonies”. Instead of driving the whole 6 hours in one shot, after a full day’s work for us parents and school for our kids, my wife had booked a room for us at a hotel for us to stay so we could finish the other half of the drive the next morning.

But when we arrived at the hotel late last Thursday night, our daughter Holly outright refused to fall asleep. The nice man at the front desk of the hotel even brought us a crib for her to sleep in. But no way, she hasn’t having it.

This is just the stage she is in right now. She doesn’t sleep well in a bed that is not our own.

After 2 and a half hours of my wife and me taking turns trying to get her asleep, I finally went into classic dad mode.

I fumbled in the dark for my boat shoes, my wrinkled plaid shirt, and the keys to the Sienna. I then told my wife, “That’s it. She’s going with me. We’re sleeping in the van tonight.”

It was something like 2:20 AM at this point and we all had to wake up the next morning to finish the rest of our drive. I placed Holly in her car seat, turned Sirius XM to Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, and drove a mile down the road.

She was asleep.

So I drove the mile back to the parking lot of the Fairfield Inn & Suites. I have to say… Being a man who is 5’ 9” and a 160-something pounds definitely has its advantages.

I was able to lay down sideways on the floorboard of the Sienna, wedged in between the two captain’s chairs, with my head towards near the bottom of the 3rd row seat and my feel towards the driver’s seat.

I woke up 2 hours later.

Holly was awake again. So this time, I simply drove around the hotel parking lot a few times. That’s all it took.

This time to get to sleep, I decided to lean back in the recliner seat on the 2nd row captain’s chair next to my daughter. While this did buy me 3 more hours of sleep for not only myself but also Holly, my head kept falling back and forth so I never really got deep sleep. No REM.

I was just glad she was able to fall asleep. Sure, it would have been nice to be inside the hotel, because I was impressed how comforting the place was and how accommodating the staff was.

My son was really excited about the Fairfield frisbee that one of the workers gave him. It’s such a nice place to stay. I totally recommend the Fairfield Inn & Suites in West Knoxville to anyone.

Maybe next time we stay there, my daughter will have outgrown this stage and will fall asleep in the comfortable bed.

Had I thought of it, I should have just folded down the 3rd row seats, with a touch of a button. I could have even borrowed my pillow and blankets from the hotel. It would have been really nice there in the very back of the Sienna.

It’s just that when you’re running on so little sleep, and trying to keep a 16 month-old asleep at the same time, you tend not to think that much into it.

All that matters though, is this: Little Holly slept through the rest of the night.

Sure, the Sienna is quite the swagger wagon. And I’m sure I’ll be talking more about that in future blog posts.

But most importantly, in my case, the Sienna also served as the slumber wagon.

Sleeping baby is priority number one.

Pensacola Road Tripping In A 2015 Toyota Sienna

Pensacola Road Tripping In A 2015 Toyota Sienna

If you’re a regular reader of Family Friendly Daddy Blog, you’ve probably noticed in the past several posts there has been a presence of a 2015 Toyota Sienna.

Pensacola Road Tripping In A 2015 Toyota Sienna

That’s because for my family’s recent mini road trip from Spring Hill, TN (the Nashville area) to Pensacola, FL we had the privilege of being able to test drive it. In essence, we modeled it; showing what it would look like for a family of 3 to take a 7 hour road trip (one way) in the Sienna. (We were in the vehicle for nearly 20 hours total, including the trip back, and driving once we got there.)

Pensacola Road Tripping In A 2015 Toyota Sienna

Here’s my newest video I made for the occasion, equipped with our own theme song I wrote and performed:

So today, I want to share my thoughts on taking a road trip in a 2015 Toyota Sienna.

Pensacola Road Tripping In A 2015 Toyota Sienna

My wife and I both agreed that the thing we appreciated most about the vehicle is how “road trip friendly” it is. For example, the 2 captain’s chairs directly behind the driver and front passenger’s seat are literally recliners.

Pensacola Road Tripping In A 2015 Toyota Sienna

esame Street: Elmo The Musical Vol. 2 Learn and Imagine- Family Friendly Review

That makes watching the large DVD/Blu-ray screen (equipped with headphones) that much more enjoyable for the passengers. It creates such a comfortable and entertaining environment for everyone; including the driver, who can keep the sound to the movie in the back of the vehicle.

Pensacola Road Tripping In A 2015 Toyota Sienna

Pensacola Road Tripping In A 2015 Toyota Sienna

In addition to the Sienna having a great capacity to be both comfortable and entertaining, we also noticed how spacious it is.

Pensacola Road Tripping In A 2015 Toyota Sienna

The paradox is that while it truly seems to be a large vehicle, it doesn’t drive that way. I had zero issues with visibility. The turning radius on the Sienna alone was amazing! I ended up having to do my share of U-turns while driving in an unfamiliar city, so I would know…

Dear Jack: 2015 Toyota Sienna Walk-Around

Pensacola Road Tripping In A 2015 Toyota Sienna

We also definitely appreciated the power sliding doors and back door. I was able to open them remotely for my wife and son before we even got the vehicle.

Pensacola Road Tripping In A 2015 Toyota Sienna

Pensacola Road Tripping In A 2015 Toyota Sienna

I will close by giving you another opportunity to check out my other blog posts involving the 2015 Toyota Sienna. It would be an understatement that we had a great family road trip, as you will read about when you click these links above each picture- and please don’t forget you can also watch the original video I made for these underneath each link:

Dear Jack: Our Homemade Jack-Man Commercial For The Toyota Sienna

Dear Jack: The Treasure Chest You Found Buried in Pensacola

Dear Jack: 2015 Toyota Sienna Walk-Around/Silly String Fight

Dear Jack: The RV That Exploded In Casino Beach Parking Lot/Highway 98 Bay Bridge Crash

Vegan Friendly Review of Pensacola, FL

Sesame Street: Elmo The Musical Vol. 2 Learn and Imagine- Family Friendly Review

esame Street: Elmo The Musical Vol. 2 Learn and Imagine- Family Friendly Review

Sesame Street: Elmo The Musical Vol. 2 Learn and Imagine- Family Friendly Review

esame Street: Elmo The Musical Vol. 2 Learn and Imagine- Family Friendly Review

My family has just returned from a 4 day mini-vacation to Pensacola, while we reviewed and tested out the new 2015 Toyota Sienna; which happened to be equipped with an awesome DVD player.

We packed several DVDs for our trip, but there was one that received much more airplay, at the request of my 4 and a half year-old son… Sesame Street: Elmo The Musical Vol. 2 Learn and Imagine (on DVD and digital on May 5, 2015 for $14.98 SR).

Something my wife noticed about this DVD that made it so attractive to our son is that he got to decide which Elmo musical he wanted to watch. There are 7 choices:

  • “Guacamole the Musical”
  • “Mountain Climber the Musical”
  • “Repair Monster the Musical”
  • “Bird the Musical”
  • “Cowboy the Musical”
  • “Detective the Musical”

While “Play All” would run them all together as one solid movie, my son appreciated the free will of deciding which episode he wanted to see, when he wanted to see it.

esame Street: Elmo The Musical Vol. 2 Learn and Imagine- Family Friendly Review

The concept reminds me of the way the 1980s Mega Man video games were designed; you got to choose which levels to play in the order you wanted; in other words, it’s not chronological but it is all connected.

My son’s favorite was apparently “Bird the Plane,” where Elmo flies Ms. Penguin to her wedding. He also kept asking for “Repair Monster the Musical” as well; where Elmo gets to use tools to help fix things for people.

I can confirm that Sesame Street: Elmo The Musical Vol. 2 Learn and Imagine is very good for road trips. Ours was 7 hours one way; so all together, with all the places we visited once we got there; we were easily in the car for close to 20 hours!

esame Street: Elmo The Musical Vol. 2 Learn and Imagine- Family Friendly Review

As expected, the DVD implicates learning into the music, fun, and silliness. I imagine our trip would have been a lot loss serene if we wouldn’t have had the 2015 Toyota Sienna with a DVD player, along with a copy of Sesame Street: Elmo The Musical Vol. 2 Learn and Imagine.

esame Street: Elmo The Musical Vol. 2 Learn and Imagine- Family Friendly Review

Infographic below courtesy of Brittany Dietz/Cheapflights:

travel-hacks-from-cheapflights-01

The Toyota “Family Reunion” Press Preview In Pompano Beach, Florida

Last week I had the privilege, as a car reviewing daddy blogger, to be flown from my home in Nashville down to Ponte Vedra Inn & Club in Pompano Beach; about 20 miles from Jacksonville, Florida. I was invited to the Toyota “Family Reunion” where the updated Sienna, Camry, and Yaris were featured and available for several hours of drive time.

There were 48 of us journalists, writers, and bloggers attending the 2 day event along with me.

We were all given around 6 hours during the 2 days to drive all versions of the updated Sienna, Camry, and Yaris; as Toyota provided dozens of the vehicles for us to choose from.

I admit, I took full advantage of every minute of drive time in the beautiful palm tree filled landscape of Pompano Beach.

Nick Shell The Toyota “Family Reunion” Press Preview In Pompano Beach, Florida

Toyota provided multiple drive routes for us to tackle with our driving partners, but I often found myself and driving partner so caught up in conversation about the car, and admiring the sunny location, they we would get off course, then just use the navigation system to help us get back to the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club where we were staying.

From there, we would pair up with new partners and cars.

I guess you could say I was “professionally joyriding.”

As for the 3 vehicles being featured at the Toyota “Family Reunion” Press Preview, I’ll start with the Sienna.

The Toyota “Family Reunion” Press Preview In Pompano Beach, Florida

It was the first Toyota vehicle I ever reviewed, back in September 2013; in fact, it’s what got me started regularly reviewing cars for my daddy blog here.

With the updated 2014.5 model, I noticed a lower dashboard, easier to access controls, and of course their new Driver Easy Speak feature which enables the driver to use the cars speakers to communicate with whoever is in the back seat.

The acoustics are designed in such a way that if you are in the backseat, it’s almost like the driver’s voice is inside your head, like your conscience or something. That’s the best way I can describe it.

Moving on the Camry; I had never been in one my entire life until this trip! That’s ironic, considering that it has been the best selling car in America; 12 years in a row! Since it’s introduction in 1983, more than 10.2 million have been sold. And there are currently 6.6 million on the road today.

Something else I want to point out about the Camry is how American made it truly is. The production of the Camry employs 7,000 U.S. workers and the vehicle contains 75% North American content.

The Toyota “Family Reunion” Press Preview In Pompano Beach, Florida

I view Toyota as more of an American car company than many official “American” based car companies. I realized that back in the summer when I reviewed the Highlander and saw the sticker on the door, showing that it was built in Texas.

My last vehicle to drive was the new redesigned Toyota Yaris; which has adopted more of a European look. As expected, I really enjoyed it; especially because I got to choose between a stick shift or an automatic.

The Toyota “Family Reunion” Press Preview In Pompano Beach, Florida

You better believe I chose the stick shift. It’s a lost art these days to drive a stick and I am just the classic gentleman for the job.

In fact, I’m interested in driving more stick shifts when I review cars from now on, but I get it that there are less of them out there.

I hope to review the Yaris, as well as the Camry, in upcoming months. I really enjoyed driving them both in Pompano Beach, but unlike the Sienna, I haven’t already reviewed them back in Nashville with my family.

The Toyota “Family Reunion” Press Preview In Pompano Beach, Florida

It will be interesting to me to see how those vehicles mesh with my family. I can see my son Jack really liking the 5 door Yaris.

He would say, “Daddy, this car has 5 doors? I didn’t know cars could have 5 doors!”

My job here today has been introduce you to the newly updated Toyota Sienna, Camry, and Yaris. I hope you’ve enjoyed this glimpse, as I know I definitely enjoyed getting to be a part of this Toyota “family reunion.”

Nick Shell 20141016_Camry Preview_1485

Stay tuned for more Lexus/Toyota/Scion reviews right here on Family Friendly Daddy Blog! I am reviewing a 2015 Scion FR-S the week of November 11-18 for my son’s 4th birthday.