You’ve gotta keep pushing the envelope. In this case, we’re talking about the minivan envelope. Toyota has a great minivan, but minivan sales continue to dwindle. What do you do if you’re Toyota? How about lifting an all-wheel-drive Sienna, adding some off-road bits, and beef it up to haul 3,500 lbs of trailer capacity? Then call it the “Woodland Special Edition.”
The Sienna Woodland Special Edition features a mild lift
That’s what Toyota has cooked up for 2022. The “lifted” part is a little weak-sauce at only 6.9-inches, but it’s a start. Unique shocks and springs do the deed for the lift.
Toyota is taking a nod from those manufacturers that are sometimes taking slow-sellers and adding a small lift kit, some black cladding, and giving it an outdoorsy name. Like Outback. Get it? We kid, but it does seem to inject some sales into segments like station wagons that otherwise sit on dealer lots forever.
There are other off-road bits packaged into the Woodland Special Edition
Toyota added a 1,500-watt power outlet in the back, roof rails for some extra hauling utilization, and 18-inch wheels. There are also contrast-stitched interior bits and blacked-out trim outside. And don’t forget a standard tow hitch is also included.
A 1,200-watt JBL audio system is also part of the package along with second-row captain’s chairs. Kick-activated sliding doors are a nice touch. Only two colors are offered; “Cement” and Midnight Black. Toyota’s marketing people need to come up with better paint names than Cement.
We keep thinking that there is going to be a minivan revival
All of that distinguishes the Woodland Edition from your pedestrian Sienna. We keep thinking that there is going to be a revival in the minivan segment. In most cases, a minivan does more than an SUV. From convenience to space utilization, minivans do it better.
But they seldom come with the same power and torque. And then there’s the bad rep as a “mommy car.” Just like the station wagon 30 or 40 years ago. But lift one, give it some hint of it being an adventure vehicle, and call it Outback, and you’re golden. Some things don’t make sense.
Still, we give Toyota the thumbs-up for giving this a shot. We expect that if it sells a few more Sienna minivans as a result that other minivan makers will follow with their own Woodland Special. And those choosing to sell minivans are becoming a rare breed.