If you’re shopping for a new minivan you’ve picked a good time. First of all, there are only 4 models from which to choose so that makes life simpler but more importantly they’ve all been recently refreshed or completely redesigned with the Honda Odyssey and Chrysler Pacifica midway through their product cycles and the Kia Carnival and Toyota Sienna the all-new vans on the block. So minus the Pacifica’s ace in the hole with its more creative seating configurations – the personal importance of which only you can decide — Can the Sienna bump itself to the top of the class? From its provocative new styling that now presents as even more premium and handsome than the Pacifica’s to its Lexus-infused aura I, and everyone I’ve been transporting this week have been raving about the Sienna’s sophistication and family-friendly personality. I won’t bury the lede. This Sienna is arguably the best minivan of all-time.
This is the nicest, most modern new Toyota cabin in a long time, but is it just a fancier RAV4 Hybrid? Fact is they do share the new Toyota platform like several other of their sedans and crossovers. This new Venza feels like a completely different vehicle; much more luxurious and upscale. And I’m really digging this Limited grade. With a starting price of $33,645 including delivery, the Venza slots in between the RAV4 and the Highlander occupying the space of a quasi-midsize 5-seater but in reality its interior dimensions are more compact. Going into my test week I can’t say I was really expecting too much – Toyota has been the target of my criticism of late – which is why I’m so surprised at how well they’ve executed the Venza’s return. It’s as smartly crafted and perfectly positioned as any model in their vast lineup.
TOYOTA CAMRY SE NIGHTSIDE EDITION. Freshened styling, all-wheel drive and a Dynamic Force engine pumping out 203 horsepower, the Camry SE Nightshade Edition, with its honest to goodness key and no side blind zone alert, could be the $30,000 car of your darker dreams. So, what is it you want out of your Camry? There are 17 different choices in the Camry family. The car you’re looking at here blends 4-wheel traction, the sport-tuned suspension of the SE trim and the sinister looks of the Nightshade Edition and with the Carpet Mat Package, MSRP is $29,839. Fact of the matter is that this chassis is stellar and despite its lack of oomph I really enjoy driving this Camry; the ride is as smooth as Taylor Swift’s airbrushed face and this car legitimately handles – Toyota has nailed the suspension tuning. The engine is a smooth character as well but, man, it often feels really slow and the disconnecting all-wheel drive system can be clunky. The SE Nightshade Edition; a Camry that I like but one that leaves me wanting a little more.
TOYOTA HIGHLANDER HYBRID PLATINUM AWD QUICK TAKES. Toyota made “hybrid” synonymous with high fuel efficiency more than 20 years ago. Later, Toyota introduced the first hybrid SUV in its class, the 2006 Highlander. Leave it to Toyota to again raise the bar for hybrid SUV functionality by making the 2020 model the most fuel-efficient Highlander Hybrid ever. The bottom line is an eye opener for the efficiency-minded: 243 total system horsepower and up to a manufacturer-estimated 36 combined MPG. The latter is a 24-percent improvement over the previous-generation Highlander Hybrid’s 29 combined MPG. Yet, Highlander Hybrid still delivers the everyday acceleration, power and responsiveness that family buyers expect. In another Highlander first, the hybrid is now available in either 2WD or AWD, further expanding hybrid technology to a new group of buyers.
TOYOTA TUNDRA TRD PRO 2020 QUICK TAKES
Powered for 2020 exclusively by the 5.7L i-FORCE V8 engine that offers up to 10,200 pounds of towing capacity and a maximum payload of 1,730 pounds, Tundra is ready to tackle the jobsite, a weekend cruise to the lake, or a multi-state family road trip. Available in Double Cab and CrewMax four-door cab styles, Tundra is offered in a plethora of configurations to fit just about any need.
Two distinct TRD packages combine chassis upgrades with unique style. The TRD Sport package is designed for more engaging on-road performance. The TRD look comes from a body-color surround for the grille, color-keyed mirrors, bumpers and hood scoop, and the truck rides on 20-inch silver-painted aluminum alloy wheels. Upgraded LED headlights, LED daytime running lights and LED fog lights complete the exterior.
Underneath, the TRD Sport package ups its handling game with TRD anti-sway bars and sport-tuned TRD Bilstein shocks. A TRD shift knob and floormats finish the look inside, and a TRD bedside graphic makes sure no one misses this custom-looking truck. The TRD Sport is available in Super White, Magnetic Gray, Midnight Blue Metallic, Voodoo Blue and Barcelona Red Metallic.
The TRD Off-Road package adds upgrades focused on off-highway driving. Trail-tuned monotube Bilstein shock absorbers are employed to soak up bumps, and 18-inch split five-spoke alloy wheels wear P275/65R18 tires. LED headlights and LED fog lights are added, and 4×2 models are equipped with engine and fuel tank skid plates and tow hooks (already standard equipment on 4x4s). TRD Off-Road floor mats and a TRD Off-Road bedside decal complete the look.