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The New 2011 Sienna Minivan - Mommy Hate

Two days after buying our 2011 Toyota Sienna XLE, we started experiencing steering and braking problems.

Two weeks after buying it, the trunk door stopped operating. It now opens and closes at will and is completely misaligned.

The trunk door's remote controlled electronics are screwed up and we have to manually force it down to close shut and stay shut.

On top of that, the dealership claims WE "bent" it (there are no dents or dings anywhere btw, and we are lost as to how it got "bent"... maybe we took a sledgehammer to the door joints??).

What next... the passenger seats start sliding at will and the seatbelts start popping out?

This car is a danger.

Toyota is right - with a Sienna, ANYTHING could happen. How magical is that?

Of course, Toyota refuses to fix the problem... on a brand new less than 14 day old car (with additional 7 year extended warranty above and beyond the regular warranty).

What's the point of paying close to 40 grand? You get to be the biggest fool you'll ever know.

You also get to think each and every moment how much you are playing around with your children's safety by having this car in your garage.

At any time, the mechanically-astute passenger side door might decide it would like to open up right in the middle of traffic, and lo and behold, your kid is thrown out like bathwater. Or the wonderful sliding "captain: seats might just like to slip and slide around on their own while you're driving. Or maybe your sunroof will come crashing down and end your Sienn-ic misery. It's definitely a very... "Mommy" feeling.

Trust Toyota - never again.

Note: (This car was purchased in July 2010 from a dealership in MD. The owner lives in NJ and her local area NJ dealership has refused to even consider that the car's mechanism is faulty. Drive back to MD and face another rejection there? Sure Toyota, after stiffing us for 40 large, we've got nothing else to do but kowtow to you. Nice. Department of Transportation will like too.)

Comments

  • pax2upax2u Posts: 12
    Oh no! I am so sorry to hear this. We were thinking about buying an XLE, but after reading your post (the problems AND the fact that Toyota won't take responsibility), we are rethinking our decision. Maybe we'll go with the Odyssey. I hear their (Honda) customer service is wonderful.
  • Sorry to hear that crazy stuff!!

    I would take it to another dealer..dont know how you would 'bend" a tailgate?..and record everything..lemon law stuff..

    Man I would be getting with corporate..or the news...best of luck to you...
  • carbuf1carbuf1 Posts: 9
    Sorry to hear that you are having trouble with your new van. I know how frustrating it can be. I would work my way up the chain of command by writing letters and making phone calls and emails until I received some satisfaction. I think that is the best way to bring the heat to the dealership. I sure hope things work out for you. You might try another dealership if you feel like your relationship with the first is damaged beyond repair.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Sounds like you got a 5pm Friday build.

    It's a lemon, escalate and ask them to buy it back or you'll lawyer up.
  • THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR ADVICE. PLS CHECK OUT TWITTER - A LOT OF BRAND NEW 2011 SIENNA OWNERS ARE FACING SOME KIND OF PROBLEM OR THE OTHER WITH THEIR DOORS - either liftgate or sliding, and some are facing problems with their electronics.

    -------------------------------------------------------

    At our local Toyota dealership that we are getting our brand new Sienna investigated, another brand new Sienna came in that same week with the same identical same problem (liftgate stopped working, and was in fact bent out of shape on both cars).

    The dealership is now investigating what is happening to our batch atleast. It was purchased in July.

    We opened a case with Toyota Corporate in CA. That was 2 weeks ago. So far, nothing.

    WHAT YOU CAN DO: You can ALL call Lawrenceville Toyota in NJ and report your problems, as the rep from Corporate in Tokyo is there. 1-888-369-9136.

    The more Toyota Sienna 2011 complaints one dealership gets, it will force Toyota to look at all Siennas in an in-depth way, and they cannot call it isolated incidents that were caused by the consumers. They will not be able to to send each customer away just like that - if they get a whole host of reports at one location, regardless of what state you live in, they will be forced to address this isse.

    Everyone with Toyota Sienna 2011 purchased within the last 2 months (May - July 2010) pls call Lawrenceville Toyota at 888-369-9136, ask to speak with George or Renee, state your minivan's problem, and atleast ONE dealership will be geting 1,000 complaints rather than 1,000 dealerships getting on complaint each. That way, Toyota Corp will be forced to address the issue that SOMETHING IS DEFINITELY DEFECTIVE WITH THE TOYOTA SIENNA 2011.

    Thanks. Good luck everyone with your Siennas.
  • Please describe your sliding seat problem. We have a 2011 and have had the middle seats slide on their own on three occasions. I've elevated this issue through my dealer and just met with our regional rep in the PNW. They are logging the problem, but I wasn't given ANY satisfaction that they plan to do ANYTHING about it. Very serious safety issue.
  • ginzeroginzero Posts: 3
    I'm considering a 2011 Sienna and your experience is very disturbing. Can you tell us the Manufacture date/location of your vehicle (maybe located in driver side door jam). Wondering if the problems are only from that batch.

    Thank you
  • DLuDLu Posts: 15
    I, too, am sorry to hear that you have such a frustrating experience. I definitely think that Toyota is slipping in their quality control.

    We just took a road trip in our '11 Limited AWD. The biggest gripe is that the run-flats that come with the AWD are TERRIBLE -- they do deteriorate the ride quality somewhat and, what's worse, nobody seems to have any in stock. Why do I already need one? I hit a huge pot hole in Chicago and tried to immediately find a place to replace it (I did not trust these "run-flats" and wanted to get home!!!). Unfortunately, I did not find any FIrestone stores near me at the time, and all the other major chains (NTB, Sears, etc etc) did not carry a run-flat in its size. So I ended up putting a "regular" tire on at a local shop because, as I was "limping" around, the darn thing started to make a terrible noise after only 20 miles of driving under 50 mph. I am going to carry that regular tire around every time I take a trip now.

    To add insult to injury, one of the lug nuts apparently was cross-threaded on at the factory so that the kid who took it off ripped the whole bolt off (and kicked the freaking thing under the table, thinking nobody would notice a HOLE). I drove 1000 miles like that because the local shop did not have a replacement bolt; thankfully the dealer replaced it for free (the guy mumbled some junk about "this is not normally covered under the warranty but since your car is so new we'll cover it ...").

    You can count on a "daddy hate" here too!

    And don't even get me started on the sub-par interior fit and finish. I wish I got the LE instead of the $45k-plus Limited. What was I thinking?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Isn't the $45k Sienna a bit of a myth? A unicorn, if you will.

    Just checked and the most expensive one a local dealer is selling costs $35,720, and even the MSRP is under $39k.

    The LE is arguably the better value, since you're getting the same basic van for less, but I'm willing to bet that 80% or more of Sienna fall between $25k and 35k. Maybe even 90%.
  • The MSRP of an AWD Limited with Premium Package, Convenience Package, Special Color Paint (blizzard white) + destination charge is $45,715. Where's the myth?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    2 things that I can think of:

    1. Few if any are produced that heavily loaded. And no other van offers AWD and laser cruise control and a power folding 3rd row seat.

    2. High margin models are discounted most heavily, so that's a $41k van if you can even find one.

    Did you pay $45k? I doubt you did.
  • I paid 43,327.04 before taxes. Total paid, 47,928.09 after taxes and documentation. This is not, however, the matter being discussed. This discussion is about safety and quality concerns about Toyota. Someone expressed concern that for the dollars paid, we shouldn't have these kind of problems. Do you have a counter argument or would you rather discuss the specifics of dollars paid? Can we get back on topic?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I don't think the price tag should have much to do with it. A buyer should except a safe car no matter the price.

    A higher-end car with more options (lane departure warning, blind spot warning, things like that) has more things that could break. Look at the historical reliability of, say, a Range Rover.

    As to your original point, I do agree the LE is the better value, which is one of the reasons I got one (I also wanted the 8 seater model, though, and back then it was CE or LE only).

    I don't think that the LE's lower price makes it OK for people to be having problems, though.
  • We bought a top-of-the-line LTD AWD with all the options about 6 weeks ago. We had owned a 2004 XLE prior, and we need to replace the 2004 with this new 2011. Because we had just moved to Chicago, I decided we needed a minivan with AWD, so I decided to go with Sienna, although my initial reaction to the 2011 was fairly negative.

    Anyhow, the interior of the 2011 just seems cheap and not as comfortable when compared to the prior version.

    Well, we just put about 1500 miles on the 2011 through a road trip vacation. The 2011 did not perform well, as the tires were pretty loud and there was some odd smells coming through the vent. And to top it off, the sonar sensors stopped working as well (front and back). But it gets worse, as the navigation screen cracked - we did not place any undue pressure on the screen at all.

    Took it to the dealer today,and they are claiming something must have impacted the screen and they are not honoring the warranty. So now I have to play hardball to avoid paying 1,800 to replace the screen. We will see what happens tomorrow, but my sense is that Toyota product is probably a lot worse than I ever thought, and I will likely unload this crap machine once these issues are settled with the 2011.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    edited August 2010
    The Nav screen cracked? Holy cow!

    File a formal complaint here:

    http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/recalls/recallsearch.cfm

    Also, call Toyota's 800 number, they can put pressure on the dealer to help you.
  • DLuDLu Posts: 15
    Toyota has the gall to display an MSRP of $45k-plus on the Limited (all the Ltd in New England have the Premium Pkg when I was shopping around) -- especially considering that all their commercials are the Ltd trim -- so to me that's the message they conveying.

    Just because Toyota is desperate to move their product with steep discounts doesn't mean they still aren't trying to market their Sienna as befitting an $45k-plus price tag.
  • DLuDLu Posts: 15
    Regarding safety, thankfully I have not had any problems yet. In fact, my wife was able to make some emergency maneuvers and the thing handled it quite well.

    My one point is that Toyota is not paying nearly as much attention to details as they used to be (it seems). It's okay if trim pieces are hard and fraying around the edges for a cheap car, not one that you are trying to parade around as some luxury "spa" that moms would love to spend a lot of time in. So, again, I am disappointed in the Ltd. I agree that having actual problems and things falling apart is a big No-no.

    btw I know that there are a ton of New England dealers with $45k-plus Ltd AWD vehicles on the lot (again, talking about MSRP here). Sure, I only paid $39,500 for it, you're right. :)
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    CR dinged them, too. Overall score dropped from 93 to 80, though it's still their 2nd highest rated van.
  • delthekingdeltheking Posts: 1,152
    Yes,that was disappointing b`cos the 04-09 Sienna especially the 07-09 Sienna was very good except for the exterior shape. They corrected that in this redesign but elsewhere they really cheapened. Dont know if Odyssey also goes the same way. If not ,then Ody will be a home run and Toyota will have to do some major refreshening with better materials.

    I hope Ody is really good - it puts some real pressure on the Sienna to deliver in the next year.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Same here...I'm not a fan of the lightning bolt but I don't really care that much about how it looks. Vans are all about function.
  • AXM23AXM23 Posts: 64
    tfaw - I found this post by searching for "cracked navigation" in the Toyota forums.

    I am very interested to know what happened because my navigation screen on my 2011 Camry cracked as well. And like yours, ours cracked without any undue pressure. I was attempting to enter a destination address on the screen with 1 finger. Toyota is claiming that the warrant does not cover it because I "damaged" it. I am going to try and fight it.

    Please let me know what you would up doing.

    Thanks!
  • rgccrgcc Posts: 11
    I own a 2004 Sienna XLE LTD (Loaded including the laser guided cruise control). I also just took delivery of a 2011 Sienna LTD (FWD) also loaded and have 850 miles on the car. Probably the most expensive van on the road today!
    My observations follow: The rear wiper rotates from above rather than from below as was the case in the 2004 model. Given all the snow and road mist of the last two weeks, the rear window presents a driving and safety hazard. Taking some approximate measurements of the rear window area, total area approximates 7.625 sq. ft. The total clean wiping area is 2.5 sq. ft. giving a 32.7869% clean area. The lower left quadrant is particularly bad for the driver to observe cars directly on the rear left quarter. Why would someone design a wiper that only cleans less than a 1/3 of the rear window? The design engineer should be fired and the safety engineer should be re-trained.
    The center console is totally dysfunctional. The old console had a small tilt up panel with a pencil and pad holder. Under this panel was a small storage area, and below was a large storage area for the head phones. The new console is one large box. Imagine trying to find a pad and pencil and other items put in the only driver's stowage area. This is akin to a woman w/a large purse having to empty the whole purse to find a pencil, comb or a set of keys.
    Gear Shift is too close to the wiper lever on the steering wheel. Old model Sienna had a purse holder in the front passenger compartment which we used to hold small AAA plastic trash bag. New model eliminated this nice feature.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Probably the most expensive van on the road today!

    I'm guessing you haven't priced a Honda Ody Touring Elite?
  • loucapriloucapri Posts: 214
    So in other words do you think you like the 04 better than the 11?
    We had an 04 LE AWD and was thinking about getting XLE AWD on 2011 but kind of on hold due to many "not to happy" reviews and the problem with power sliding doors, cheap inside....

    One thing you probably know but haven't mentioned, the sunroof on the 04 is WAY bigger than the 11 :) especially when in open position.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    My timing was lucky but I think the best years were '07-10, because the 2GR engine replaced the 3MZ, giving you a bunch of extra power with no penalty at all in mileage (real-world mileage seemed to go up slightly).
  • Don't know about the '04, but I went from a '08 Ltd. AWD to a '11 Ltd. AWD. I wish I had kept the '08 -- or at least had not purchased the '11.

    As stated in so many posts, Toyota has cut corners on their newer models and this has certainly taken a tole on the final product. The interior of the '08 was much richer (better leather, no hard plastics), the ride was better, there was great little storage compartments throughout the van and the car just felt like a better, higher quality vehicle.

    Also, many new Siennas, including ours, have problems with the sliding doors that Toyota has been unable to resolve: When opened from the handles, they often stick and, after a delay, pop open (see my post # 437 in Toyota Sienna Sliding Door Problems). Since the problem has progressively gotten worse, I mentioned it again this week, when I had the van in for its 10,000 mile service. The service rep. who checked me in went on and on about how this is a big problem with the new Sienna and how Toyota was working on it. She told me they would look at it again, but not to expect anything because there is no known fix yet.

    When I checked out, the repair bill said that "sliding doors are operating as designed depending on how fast handle is pulled will cause pops noise as per Toyota normal operation."

    First point - its interesting that the service reps are willing to tell you outright that its a problem that Toyota is working on, but can't put it in writing -- Cover Up???

    Second - if this is "normal," then Toyota will soon be looking up to Chrysler for build quality. Many people, myself included, purchased these vans loaded with options carrying MSRP's in the mid 40's. This is knocking on luxury vehicle price territory. For Toyota to tell their customers that this "normal" is shameful and frankly, disrespectful. It show's the new "normal" for Toyota.

    Third - The van has already been recalled once (unbelievable stupid break light design). Are we looking at a second recall when Toyota figures out how to fix this -- or finally realizes that it has to fix its mess rather then continuing to dismiss customer complaints.

    The bottom line is that this is not the same quality van as you currently own. And Toyota is not the same company that it appeared to be years ago. If I was looking for a car today, knowing what I know now, I wouldn't consider this vehicle.

    However, I suggest you take a test drive and see for yourself. Turn the wheels and hit the gas. Listen to the engine squeal like a pig and feel the torque-steer as it pulls the wheel in your hand. Take your finger and indent the cheap plastic bumpers. Grab them from below and shake them back and forth like a leaf --- feel the quality (more like the lack thereof!). Run your hand over the rock hard plastic. Knock on the plastic with your knuckles and hear the hallow-door like sound. And, try actually sitting in the middle row in a reclined position. Looks good in the brochure, but certainly not where I'd go for refuge.

    A minivan has its advantages, and the Sienna is the only AWD minivan available but, given my recent experiences with this van and Toyota, I would STAY AWAY.

    Not sure how long I will keep the '11, but will certainly dump it before the warranty expires. I don't expect this van to hold up as well as my past Toyotas have.
  • I have a sienna xle AWD 2005 and love it but I recenty test drove the 2011 xle AWD with premium pkg and was very disappointed at the corners that have been cut. The obvious being-- no more adjustable arm rests, no auto controls on front passenger side seat (my 05 has them)and plastic everywhere where it used to be leather. With a sticker of 44k it's just pathetic. Not to mention, I am sure that corners have been cut in other areas not as obvious on a quick test drive. Sadly, having to say no to Toyota this time 'round. And on a side note-- the leg rests are not exactly little kid or mom friendly. Hard to close up and annoying to have the kids playing with them. And as for the side door popping noise. On my 05 that is what happened prior to the door breaking which costs 1k to fix. Now the other sde is popping and will likely go as well. Important to report problem to toyota bc that is the only way they will issue a recall. They know it's problem but if people don't complain they'll be happy to keep accepting their money to fix it.
  • kacmkacm Posts: 5
    We are considering the new Sienna to replace an 04 Ody, however we're nervous to buy based upon the problems we see people listing.
    I emailed a dealer this morning that we've been working with to get his opinion re: water leaks, tailgate issues, sliding door issues and seat rattling. His response was:
    "all the problems have been corrected on any 2011 vans we have had less than 90 days which is all of our instock vehicles. New parts have been installed to correct these problems on all of the 2011 and any 2012 models that will be coming."
    Anyone think there's truth to this statement? Says the info. came directly from the service manager.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    edited September 2011
    New parts, what new parts? I think he's just saying whatever he thinks will get you to come in. Doesn't seem honest at all.

    Ask him for a parts list with part numbers, he'll trip over himself coming up with bogus excuses.

    I'd find another dealer.

    PS Stay away from the problems threads if you're shopping, people come here to complain, so even reliable cars seem like nightmares. Search the Dodge or Honda transmission problems threads, you'll come running back to Toyota.
  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,735
    Are you absolutely sold on buying new? We went shopping for a 2011 Sienna LE to replace our '02 Honda Odyssey EX. The Honda was a rock solid vehicle - 9+ years old with nearly 140k miles on her.

    We were most unimpressed by the new Sienna. So much so that when my wife complained about the things she didn't like on the 2011 but loved on the 2002, the salesman took us around back to see a 2008 (last generation Sienna) in for reconditioning. We didn't buy that one, but ended up buying a similar Certified PreOwned 2008 from another dealership. It drives like new, is fully warranted, and cost about $12k less. Most important, my wife is happy!

    The new Sienna certainly got off to a rough start. You might not remember the issues that the 1999-2000 Odyssey had, but by 2002-2004 it was a great van with literally hundreds of redesigned parts. I'm sure that the Sienna will get there also. Old saying - NEVER BUY REV 1.0 OF ANYTHING!!!!
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