A select few outlets were recently sent to California to test-drive the all-new Mercedes-Maybach S600, a luxury car for the driven, not the driver. We were not one of those select few; but that didn't mean we couldn't make our own quasi-limo experience. Thus, with your author playing the role of Mr. Fancypants, and with Senior Writer (and Motorbooty alum) David Merline playing Driver, we set forth to see if our ride, a 2015 Toyota Sienna XLE, could stand in as a poor man's Maybach.
When the Sienna arrived outside my two-flat, already the plush vibe of luxury was present. As I stepped outside, the van's rear door slid open on its own. The driver didn't even need to leave the vehicle to open the door for me. The Sienna beats the Maybach in that regard. Plus, being a van, the side-door opening is much larger and more accommodating than the Maybach. Having to crouch to enter a vehicle? How pedestrian.
After climbing into the second row captain's chair and buckling my seatbelt (safety first, folks), we were off. With ample head room and plenty of distance between David and myself, already the experience felt like a fancy one.
In the Maybach, there are controls in the driven person's reach to move the front passenger seat forward, providing extra legroom. There are no such luxuries in the Sienna. If you want to move that seat forward, you're going to have to reach for it. After pinching my arm between the seat and the door panel, I eventually moved the front seat forward a bit. Not that I needed it; I just wanted it. I'm playing Mr. Fancypants, remember?
The Maybach has brand-etched champagne flutes in the rear seat. Where I live — the real world — drinking in a moving vehicle is illegal. That's fine by me, because the only cupholder was all the way by the front seats, which was admittedly a pain to reach for. Then again, I had the second row as far back as possible, so I guess that's a pratfall of my own doing.
The Sienna also loses points for floor materials. This isn't lamb's wool; it's removable synthetic carpeting covering up the spaces between the seat tracks. But guess what? The Sienna costs, quite literally, one fourth of the Maybach.
As for the seats themselves, they do not massage, nor are they heated, ventilated, or power-adjustable. They are regular, manual seats, because children these days need to learn the value of manual labor or something. They're also quite comfortable. If you really want a massage, just think about the Sienna's slightly-bumpy ride for a little while and pretend it's a whole-car massage.
With the seat all the way back, I was able to stretch my six-foot-even frame all the way out without any problem. No matter how I wanted my legs crossed, I wasn't bumping into anything, nor was I in danger of knocking over my thermos of coffee. Splay yourself out however you choose; the Sienna's second row will leave you with some spare square footage.
The Maybach has tinted power windows. The Sienna has tinted power windows. I … I got nothin' here.
From the rear seat of the Maybach, climate-control adjustments are within arm's reach. If you're on that same side in the Sienna, climate-control adjustments are … way the hell over, behind the driver. I didn't have a stick long enough to poke at it, so I just lived with it. Something tells me that Maybach owners aren't as willing to let shit slide.
The Sienna's infotainment system screen is large and vivid enough to be read from the second row, so I could keep a very close eye on the music and make sure that my delicate, acquired taste wouldn't be subject to something foul. I'm sure it's nice for the driver, too, but who cares about the driver? He's just a driver. He's not a real person.
All in all, I think the Toyota Sienna XLE functions perfectly as a chauffeur-driven vehicle for the frugal masses. There's more than enough space, more than enough technology, and more than enough seating comfort to let you relax and decompress on the way to work. That said, if you've only been awake for 90 minutes and you need to decompress, you probably need to take a long, hard look at your life.
This will run later in the week at Web2Carz.com. For now, it's here, because I like it.