Hello Creative Family takes a road trip with three generations of their family to see the Paul Simon Concert in a 2018 Toyota Sienna. They share the experience plus a vehicle review of why the Toyota Sienna is the only vehicle the checks all the boxes for their family!
Disclosure: I have partnered with YMC and Toyota and have received compensation for this post. All opinions are my own.
Isn’t it incredible how music can transport you to a whole other time and place? A song will come on the radio and I’m instantly transported back to the first morning I woke up with my son next to me, my first time dancing with a boy and the moment that I knew my husband really knew the meaning of “in sickness and in health”. There are certain albums that I listen to that instantly put me in that “summer vacation” mood. Paul Simon’s Graceland album and Bonnie Raitt’s Nick of Time and Luck of the Draw are three of those albums.
The second I hear the accordion playing in the opening of The Boy In The Bubble on the Graceland album I’m immediately taken back to my childhood, being inside my dad’s van and driving off the ferry on Orcas Island where we spent our vacation every summer when I was a kid. Paul Simon was the soundtrack for my childhood summers.
When my husband and I started taking our children to Orcas Island for summer vacations, I carried on the tradition of playing Paul Simon the moment we drove off the ferry. As a result, my daughter is now a huge Paul Simon fan as well. My husband texted me a few months back and said “Paul Simon is doing a farewell tour. Want to go?” I immediately said yes and texted my mom, dad and sister and asked if they wanted to go with us too.
Last month, my husband, daughter, mom, dad, sister and I all loaded up in a Toyota Sienna and headed to Seattle for the concert. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity, 3 generations of Paul Simon fans, taking a road trip together to see Paul Simon on his final tour. I felt so lucky that we could all fit in one vehicle so that we could enjoy the pre-concert excitement and the post concert recap together.
Last summer my husband and I decided it was time to purchase a new family vehicle. Initially there was a hot debate between my husband and I about whether we would purchase a mini van or an SUV. We looked at and/or test drove every single 7 and 8 seat vehicle out there and at the end of our shopping around there was only one vehicle that hit all the marks for us– The Toyota Sienna.
I loved that it could go from a 4 seater vehicle with a ton of cargo room, to an 8 seater vehicle that we could load up with two families in a matter of seconds. Being able to take road trips in one vehicle with my extended family was important to me and in the Toyota Sienna we could do that AND everyone in the vehicle had a comfortable seat. Even the grandparents were able to sit in the back row and feel comfortable.
What ended up being the biggest selling point for my husband was how much room there was in the vehicle. There was no denying the fact that you could fit WAY more camping gear into a Sienna than you could in an equivalent sized SUV.
Toyota Canada loaned my family and I a 2018 Toyota Sienna for our road trip to Seattle to see Paul Simon. Today The Hubs (AKA our DIY Dad) and I are going to share with you a few of the many reasons why we love the Toyota Sienna.
I decided to sit down with my hubby and find out what he loves about the Toyota Sienna in an interview format. You can see our interview below. I’m “Maker Mama” and The Hubs is “DIY Dad”.
Q&A With Hello Creative Family- Why We Love The Toyota Sienna
Maker Mama: Last summer we decided it was time to get a new vehicle. You drive a SmartCar for commuting to work, and I drive a bigger vehicle since I’m usually the one driving the kids to and from their activities. We were both in agreement that we wanted a 7 or 8 seat vehicle so that we could easily carpool for the kids activities, be able to drive family and friends in one vehicle when they came to town to visit, and have lots of room for all of our camping gear when we went camping. I immediately knew I wanted a minivan. You said you wanted an SUV. Can you tell me a bit about your thought process and what went through your head during that initial “debate” period of what kind of vehicle we were going to get?
DIY Dad: My very first thought was “I guess we’re getting a minivan.” I knew that you would win the battle. Ultimately it’s the car that you drive the most so it makes sense to get what works best for you. I didn’t want to fold that easily though and thought that maybe there was a slim chance you would fall for an SUV. What I didn’t expect was how much I was going to end up wanting to buy a Toyota Sienna. After looking at just about every minivan and SUV out there, the Toyota Sienna really did just check off every single one of those boxes that we were looking for. There was no denying that the Sienna had way more cargo room for our camping gear and was much more comfortable for the people sitting in the back row than an SUV.
Maker Mama: Ha ha. You knew that I’d win. Seriously though, thank you for letting me win. After a year of driving our Toyota Sienna I still think about how much I love it every single time I set foot in it. Can you tell me why you were hesitant to become a “Mini Van Dad”?
DIY Dad: I think that there’s a whole stereotype about Dads that drive minivans. People think they are these big boxes full of sippy cups, juice boxes and car seats. The truth is though that Toyota has put a lot of thought into the styling of their minivans. I wouldn’t necessarily call them “sexy” but they are good looking vehicles. They also have such great amenities in them. I love all of the USB ports for charging your phone no matter where you are sitting in the car. My battery was almost dead on the way to the Paul Simon concert, I was sitting in the very back row of seats and I was able to charge my phone back there! Little things like all of the cup holders in the Sienna are also amazing. Each person can have a water bottle and a cup of coffee and I think there would still be cup holders to spare! In Asia the upper class use minivans instead of limousines to get around. They are considered a status symbol.
Maker Mama: What were some of the key selling points that made us purchase the Toyota Sienna over the competition?
DIY Dad: Safety was a big one. (Learn more about Toyota Safety Sense here.) As a dad your top priority is always to make sure that your family is safe. Another big selling point was the longevity of the vehicle. As you know, we keep our vehicles for a really long time. I started to talk to people with Toyotas and kept hearing all of these stories about people driving their Toyotas for 20 years, or using it to wrack up huge kilometers taking road trips back and forth across Canada and the United States. Everyone who we talked to who owned a Toyota had nothing but great things to say about their vehicles and was really encouraging about having us join the “Toyota Family”. You feel that way don’t you? Wouldn’t you recommend that friends and family buy a Toyota Sienna?
Maker Mama: Absolutely, lol, that’s kind of the point of me writing this article. Seriously though, when you go from a regular vehicle to a minivan it usually starts up conversations with other people who have kids. I’ve spent a ton of time talking about our Sienna to other parents that we know and have influenced a few purchases.
DIY Dad: Another thing that had me sold on the Sienna was that it’s the minivan that taxi drivers use here. Taxi drivers don’t have time for vehicles that break down. The fact that every single taxi minivan we see on the road is a Toyota Sienna was a big selling point for me too. How about you? What made you want to go with a Sienna?
Maker Mama: Safety and longevity of course, but I also really wanted an 8 seater vehicle. I loved the idea of being able to take another family of four with us in our car. I LOVE that our Toyota Sienna has a middle seat in the second row that can pop in and out and that it has a compartment in the trunk to store it. We saw some other 8 seaters that had that middle seat, but when you took it out it didn’t store up flat into a compartment in the trunk. We would have had to leave it in the garage. Being able to have the minivan set up as a 4 seater vehicle with the back seats folded down, the middle seat stored in the trunk and the rest of the vehicle packed to the brim with everything we need for camping and then unpack at our campsite and transform the minivan back into an 8 seater vehicle in seconds is so huge for me. I remember unloading the Sienna on our first camping trip, flipping the back seats back up, popping in that middle seat and then loading it up with us and the other family we were camping with to drive up the mountain for a hike. It felt so good and made me love our Sienna so much.
DIY Dad: Let’s talk about the 2018 Sienna that we test drove last month. I know why the kids loved it…
Maker Mama: Oh there is no question why the kids loved it! They were asking if it had a built in entertainment system before we even picked up the vehicle! I had been thinking that we would have to listen to the Blue-Ray they were watching while we drove, but I loved that it came with wireless headphones so they could listen to their movie while we still got to listen to our music or podcasts. Oh my gosh and the Easy Speak!!!
DIY Dad: Yes! The Easy Speak was awesome.
Maker Mama: So I loved the Easy Speak for two reasons. It’s this button on the dashboard that you can press that basically projects your voice through the speaker system of the vehicle. The first reason that I loved it was that if the kids were watching a movie and had their headphones on, I could turn on Easy Speak if I needed to talk to them and my voice would play on their headphones. There was none of the yelling and pantomiming that you usually have to do when your kids have on headphones and you are trying to talk to them. The second reason I loved easy speak was that it was so much easier to include everyone in the car in conversations. I find that often the people who are sitting in the back row of the vehicle can’t hear what the people in the driver’s seat and passenger seat are saying. On the way down to the Paul Simon concert I turned on Easy Speak and you and my sister, could hear everything that Dad and I were talking about in the front of the vehicle through the speakers and you could take part in the conversation.
DIY Dad: That really was a great feature. No one ever wants to sit in the back row because of FOMO. Ha ha.
Maker Mama: I also really loved the double sunroof’s in the Sienna we borrowed. That’s one thing that I would really love to have in our Sienna.
DIY Dad: Yes the dual power moon roof definitely made the van feel brighter and more open.
Maker Mama: I also loved that it had a keyless ignition. It was so nice to have my keys in my purse and not have to dig for them to unlock the car, or get it started. There was also none of that worrying “Did I lock the car door?” because when you walked away with the keys it automatically locked. The trunk that opened and closed at the touch of a button was also super helpful for when I was grocery shopping or carting around my supplies for cooking class. What were your favorite features on the 2018 Sienna?
DIY Dad: I really liked the Bird’s-eye-view camera. It was nice to be able to see all around the car to check for safety…and to check my parking job. Also, the kids had fun reaching under the side mirrors where the camera is and pretending to have giant hands to pick up the van. The information display in the 2018 Sienna was also bigger, brighter and easier to look at then the display in our 2015 Sienna. With Entune you were able to view apps from your phone on the Sienna’s display and selected using touch or voice recognition. Entune also allows you to have Wifi in your vehicle which is so cool. This last one might seem silly, but I really liked the power flip out side rear windows. I find that the kids open up the back windows of our Sienna quite often and then forget to close them. Then I have to climb into the back to close them up. The power windows let me control them to air out the back but not forget to close them.
Maker Mama: One last feature that I loved was the lane departure warning and lane assist. I was really tired driving home from the Paul Simon concert. It was late and we had a long drive home. I knew that I was ok to drive and that there was no way that I would fall asleep at the wheel, but having that safety feature where the car would beep at you if you started to drift out of your lane and would auto correct you back into your lane was a really nice peace of mind type feature. Oh and of course my favorite general minivan feature– that Turtle can’t slam his car door into the car parked next to us because of the power sliding doors! That just might be the very best thing about our Toyota Sienna!
DIY Dad: Ha ha. Very true.
Maker Mama: I’m really happy that we became members of the Toyota Family. I’m proud to be a Minivan Mom. How about you. Do you feel good about being a Minivan Dad now?
DIY Dad: Sure do!
To learn more about the 2018 Toyota Sienna visit Toyota.ca.
Disclosure: Thank you to Toyota Canada and YMC for arranging for us to test drive the 2018 Toyota Sienna and for working with us on this post. As with every article on Hello Creative Family, all thoughts and opinions are 100% our own!