The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

New Toyota minivan lets parents use built-in microphone to scream at unruly kids in back seats

  • Print

DETROIT - Toyota wants to help you scream at your unruly kids.

The latest version of the company's Sienna minivan has a feature called "Driver Easy Speak." It uses a built-in microphone to amplify a parent's voice through speakers in the back seats.

Toyota says it added Easy Speak "so parents don't have to shout to passengers in the back." But chances are many parents will yell into the microphone anyway.

And the feature only works one way, so the kids can't talk back. At least not with amplified voices.

The feature is an option on the 2015 Sienna, which is being refreshed with a totally new interior. It also has an optional "pull-down conversation mirror" that lets drivers check on kids without turning around.

Automakers are trying to come up with creative ways to make the out-of-fashion minivan more appealing, said Jessica Caldwell, senior analyst at the Edmunds.com automotive website. Last year Honda unveiled a vacuum cleaner built into the back of its revamped Odyssey minivan that got a lot of attention.

Such features are important because there's little automakers can do to make the practical but bland vans more stylish, Caldwell said.

"I think they're on the right lines of trying to find these features that people are going to talk about," she said.

Minivan sales peaked at 1.37 million in 2000, but fell as low as 415,000 in 2009, when auto sales bottomed during the Great Recession. Sales have risen as the market rebounded, and last year people bought just under 519,000 of the vans. But Caldwell said the minivan share of the market now is holding steady at 3.4 per cent, less than half the share from peak years.

Some new products are entering the minivan market despite its decline. Ford is rolling out a new family hauler based on the Transit Connect small commercial van and Chrysler is working on a revamp of its Town & Country minivan.

Toyota is unveiling the new Sienna mainly through social media and at a Baltimore arts festival this weekend. It's due to hit showrooms in the fall.

"Driver Easy Speak" is available only on vans equipped with Toyota's Entune premium audio systems. Prices of the van and the voice feature were not announced.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Pavelec wants to be better this season

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A water lily in full bloom is reflected in the pond at the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden Tuesday afternoon. Standup photo. Sept 11,  2012 (Ruth Bonneville/Winnipeg Free Press)
  • Hay bales sit under a rainbow just west of Winnipeg Saturday, September 3, 2011.(John Woods/Winnipeg Free Press)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Should the federal government be able to censor how Ottawa is portrayed in the CMHR?

View Results

Ads by Google