The minivan was once seen as the successor to the station wagon, but SUVs have stolen the minivan’s popularity over the years. Nonetheless, Toyota continues to persevere with the Sienna, offering unmatched utility while giving a nod to soccer moms everywhere. Prices begin at $36,885, though our XLE test car stickers at $49,650. Is the Sienna better for your utilitarian needs? Let our review help you decide.
The Toyota Sienna has some quintessential Toyota design elements, shared even with the likes of the Supra, including wide, exaggerated rear quarters. There are two fascia options depending on your trim with this XLE featuring the base fascia. The Sienna measures 204 inches in length, which means it’s not the longest vehicle on the road, but it is 3-inches longer than Toyota’s new Grand Highlander SUV. This vehicle is finished in the color Cement, a subtle glossy grey that every manufacturer seems to have their own version of these days. The Sienna features a full LED headlight suite, which helps to stand out from the competitors. The brake lights and running lights are LED, but the rear turn signals are bulbs. Other exterior features include the roof rails, color keyed spoiler, tow hitch receiver, and the upgraded 18-inch wheels (a 1-inch increase over the base model). You also have the option to upgrade up to 20-inches. One of the coolest features is the hands-free dual power sliding doors that’s accessible through the key fob or door handles.
As one would expect of a minivan, the interior is full of features and storage. This includes having 18 cupholders, which I believe is the second most on sale anywhere today, perfect for hauling people and cargo. The XLE has seating for seven, thanks to captain chairs in the second row, and a bench for the third row, all of which can be folded down. Up front is a 9-inch touchscreen with Apple Carplay and Android Auto funneled through a JBL 12-speaker system. The Sienna also features four-zone climate control, not something you see very often, and the individual seats in the first and second row get their own climate controls. Located just in front of the second row is a fold down 11.6-inch 1080HD entertainment system set to display videos with its own remote control. Included with this are two wireless headphones, however the people in the third row will have to plug in their own headphones like on an airplane. The second row offers a unique long slide feature, allowing the captain chairs to slide extremely far forward and backwards, removing all third-row seat room when all the way back, but providing a ton of leg room for the second row. Additionally, the Sienna has a 1500 watt inverter to supply two 120-volt AC outlets offering more utility with an abundance of standard USB and USB-C chargers.
Power comes from a 2.5 liter inline four hybrid system producing 245 combined horsepower, a powertrain option we’ve seen on other Toyota/Lexus Hybrids, which is paired with an ECVT transmission sending power to the front wheels. This particular minivan is equipped with the on demand all wheel drive system which adds an additional motor for the rear axle, for a total of three electric motors, which can provides power as needed in low traction situations and acceleration, which helps the 4,700 pounds minivan really move when you ask it to. The EPA rated fuel economy for the Sienna Hybrid is 35mpg city / 36mpg highway, and 35mpg combined. Using the combined 35mpg with the 18-gallon fuel tank means you should have an estimated range of 630 miles which means minimal fill ups during the week, and long efficient drives for road trips.
The Toyota Sienna offers a smooth driving experience. The steering is easy but not over-boosted, you do find some CVT rubber banding but the brakes are notably good for a hybrid which usually tend to feel a bit abrupt. Visibility out of the front is fantastic and the side mirrors are adequate. However the rear-view mirror can be tough to use due to the length of the vehicle, but the back up camera is useful for parking. It serves as a fantastic people-mover with a quiet interior and quality ride.
The Toyota Sienna stands as a stronghold in a declining market but has a lot to offer. It’ll easily carry more people than any comparably priced SUV, and the hybrid has astounding fuel economy and range to boot. If you are cross-shopping the Sienna with SUVs, I think you’ll find the Sienna has a lot more to offer as long as you don’t mind the image of a minivan.