I’m never excited when I learn that I’m going to test drive a minivan. But my attitude always changes after spending time behind the wheel because they are such comfortable and versatile vehicles. While three-row crossovers are more popular for growing families, the minivan sure excels at carrying people and all their stuff.
The Toyota Sienna is now in its third generation that was first introduced for the 2011 model year. As such, it’s a bit dated compared to some rivals. But it does have several modern touches including Apple Car Play and Amazon Alexa connectivity. And it’s available in several different configurations so you can get the one that’s right for your family. It’s also the only minivan that offers all-wheel-drive.
It’s available in several trims: L, LE, SE, XLE and Limited. Starting prices range from $31,415 to $49,415. It can accommodate seven or eight passengers in three rows of seating depending on whether you choose captain’s chairs for the second row.
The Sienna is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine that cranks out a healthy 296 horsepower and 263 pound-feet of torque, paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The Sienna hustles off the line and easily accelerates for passing and merging at freeway speeds. The ride is smooth with bumps and rough roads not very noticeable. There is a fair amount of wind and road noise, though, and noticeable body lean when driving through turns. Visibility is good all the way around.
I had to chuckle when I realized that you can put the Sienna in Sport mode –hey, it really does make for more spirited handling; at least as much as you’d expect in a minivan!
Fuel efficiency is average for a minivan. EPA ratings for my tester are 18 mpg city and 24 mpg highway with a combined rating of 20 mpg. I got 20 mpg during my week with a mix of city and highway driving.
The cabin is attractive but not as upscale as more modern competitors. Seats are comfortable for commuting but could use more support for long drives. Front row passengers enjoy lots of leg- and headroom. The second row has good legroom but headroom may be limited for taller passengers due to the sloping roofline. The higher trims have second-row seats that recline and have footrests. As you’d expect, the third row is best suited for kids. Getting back there is fairly easy as the second-row seats easily slide forward.
Standard features include remote keyless entry, tri-zone automatic climate control, cloth upholstery, the Entune infotainment system with seven-inch touchscreen, six-speaker audio system, six USB ports, Bluetooth, Siri Eyes Free, Wi-Fi hot spot, Split & Stow third-row seat, and Apple CarPlay. But Android Auto is still not offered.
Available features include push-button start, upgraded cloth upholstery, leather upholstery, power-adjustable front seats, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, single- or dual-pane moonroof, 10-speaker JBL sound system, navigation, satellite radio, HD Radio, rear-seat Blu-ray entertainment system, dual power-sliding rear doors, and Driver Easy Speak, a system that amplifies the driver’s voice and plays it through the audio system’s speakers.
The Toyota Safety Sense P suite of driver assistance technology is also standard. This includes a rearview camera, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, and a pre-collision warning and braking system with pedestrian detection.
Available driver assistance technologies include a surround-view parking camera, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and front and rear parking sensors.
The Entune infotainment system is fairly user-friendly and works fine. But it’s getting long in the tooth and the graphics look dated compared to infotainment systems in other vehicles.
The Sienna has tons of cargo space. There are 39.1 cubic feet with all rows of seating in place and 87.1 cubes behind the second row (the third-row seats can fold into the floor). The second row can’t be folded, which is a bit annoying, but it can be removed entirely, providing 150 cubes. A power liftgate is available.
It’s the only minivan available with AWD
Smooth, comfortable ride
Cavernous interior with room for 7 or 8 passengers
Lots of standard and available safety features
Standard Apple CarPlay
More cargo capacity than rivals
Hasn’t been updated in a decade
Higher sticker price than the competition
Less fuel efficient than many rivals
Competitors have more upscale cabins
No Android Auto
My tester starts at $49,190. Alloy wheel locks are $65. Paint protection film is $395. Chrome lower door moldings are $209. Preferred Accessory Package Plus is $473 and adds a roof rack, carpet floor mats, door sill protectors, and cargo net. Delivery fee is $1,095 bringing the grand total to $51,427.
Shoppers looking for a minivan will want to check out the 2020 Toyota Sienna for its smooth ride, comfort, practicality, and cavernous interior that provides loads of room for kids and gear. However, some rivals offer nicer interiors and updated tech.