Big Guy Car Guy

The Big Guy Car Guy Report — The Toyota Sienna Swagger Wagon


The Swagger Wagon.

The Man Van.

The Dudemobile.

Okay, that last one is my own creation. And it’s a 16oz can of weak sauce, I know.

Thanks to chucklesome, tongue-in-cheek macho monikers, Toyota has famously tried over the years to make their Sienna minivan more than just another boring family vehicle clunking bratty kids around from grocery store to ballet recitals to t-ball practices to Mommy & Me classes.

I recently had the chance to put Toyota’s clever marketing to the test to discover, once and for all, if the Sienna is indeed a proud man machine, or if it’s best suited for suburban soccer moms and their mocha soy lattes.

The test: Three Sienna vans idled on the 120 degree road track in Las Vegas. Each was pushed to the limit by two six-packs full of professional race car drivers dads. In our everyday lives, we haul around little people and crumbs but in Sin City we hauled ass around tight turns and accelerated toward an imaginary checkered flag on the straightaway homestretch. And you know what? The original Swagger Wagon took everything we gave it that day like a heavyweight champ coolly brushing off an opponent’s uppercut to continue his own offensive attack. In return, the Sienna gave us back immediate responsiveness, accomplished handling, and enough giddy-up (reaching 85 mph without the frame rattling or paint peeling off the hood) to keep our heads held high around actual real life racers from the Dream Racing staff. I think one or two of them may have even stood and applauded…okay that may have been a mirage. It was crazy hot out there. A head nod was more likely. Whatever the case, respect was earned. In a Sienna minivan. And that’s the point.

Jeff Bogle OWTK Dream Racing Toyota Sienna AdVANture

I push the Toyota Sienna to the limit on the Las Vegas Motor Speedway road course. Photo by: Shawn Parkin

After we tore up the Las Vegas Motor Speedway road course in the trio of Sienna minivans and a handful of Ferrari F430 GT race cars, there was a race between one of each. Troy Pattee (of Dadventurous fame), a beautiful Salsa Red Pearl Sienna, and I did battle against a cherry red Ferrari and a pair of trained, physically-fit drivers. Naturally, we won handily. Nevermind that the race was one of athletic equipment and storage space. The only part you need to know is that a Sienna beat a Ferrari in a race. That is a FACT.

Toyota Sienna Storage Space Race at Dream Racing

Dadventurous’ Troy Pattee and I show off how much storage space is in the back of the Toyota Sienna. Photo by: Shawn Parkin

Going fast and being stuffed full weren’t the only tests the Sienna endured in Vegas. Nope. The Man Vans were exactly that with 4-5 of us papas occupying each during a medium-distance scavenger hunt that had us doing a bit of off-roading while on the hunt for a desert donkey (found one!), a man-made lake that was nearly as depressing as the Vegas Strip itself, and Mt. Charleston which was every bit as stunning as your imagination + a Google image search would have you believe. The Sienna handled extremely well when I was behind the wheel, providing me with enough, but not overly generous, leg room for my 6′ 4″ frame. I then relaxed in comfort with TONS of leg room, I mean like lay-down-completely amounts space, with my long legs sorta resting on the expandable La-Z-Boy-style leg rests (meant for folks shorter than me, for sure), in one of the 2nd row Captain’s chairs. This is notable because, 1) I am a control freak and 2) because I couldn’t feel any of the turns, stops, and acceleration. If I was actually able to grab a few winks back there (couldn’t because my inner 7-year-old wouldn’t stop looking out the window at the buildings, mountains, and fighter jets flying around the air force base) I wouldn’t have even known we were in motion. It was pure comfort and joy with my bottle of water, ice cream sandwich, and a handful of Dan Zevin‘s roasted nuts.

Spring Mountains Toyota Sienna

Here, Desert Donkey! Good boy.

Sierra Neveda Toyota Sienna

I may have recreated a Sienna ad from the early 60’s here. Beautiful Sierra-Nevada range.

Listen, I know exactly what you say about minivans, because I’ve said all those words myself. But to be honest, this trip to Vegas wasn’t my first time at the minivan rodeo. Or something. We requested (gasp!) and received a Citroen Picasso as our rental car in Spain last year. This marked the first and only time my family has occupied a minivan, and IT. WAS. AWESOME. We drove pretty much the whole of France, crossed the Pyrenees Mountains, went through Andorra, and around Catalonia in that thing and I am frankly surprised we didn’t come home and buy a minivan straightaway. But the old lame thoughts crept back in and the perceived status of such an automobile won out. How stupid.

Toyota Sienna AdVANture at Dream Racing

The Dad Bloggers who went on the Toyota Sienna AdVANture. Photo by: Shawn Parkin

The Toyota Sienna will never be the masculine beast the 2014 Tundra is, but with sporty styling inside and out, copious amounts of storage for people, stuff, and bottles (I think I counted 193 cup holders), a grill that is more ‘rack of ribs and root beer’ than ‘puffed-chest bad ass’, no dad should ever feel ashamed to sit behind the wheel of a Toyota Sienna. Even if it is only while dropping your 1st baseman off at practice.

The bottom line: Toyota’s Sienna minivan is sharp. Evidence below.


Double moon roof? Hell yeah.


Looking straight on at the Sienna, you’d have a hard time telling if it’s a race car or a minivan.


Look at that beautiful grill with the flared out headlamps! And the curvature of the hood around the Toyota logo. That’s super rad.



Handsome, no?


Front grill porn.


The hip interior of the Toyota Sienna.


My long legs don’t fit, but your kids will love the Sienna’s recliner feature.


Will my _____ fit in the back? Yes. Yes it will.

*Toyota flew me out, put me up, and feed me well (and often) in Las Vegas during their Sienna AdVANture. All the opinions expressed above are honest and unbiased, as always.

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  1. Have you made me want this minivan? Yes. Well done.

  2. Haha! Outstanding, Brian! I wish I could offer you a coupon or something.

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