The Toyota Sienna gets a new, more powerful engine for the latest model year.
More so than nearly any other type of vehicle, minivans are purchased to haul people and cargo, and the Sienna excels in these areas. It offers seven- and eight-passenger seating configurations, with the difference being a pair of individual seats or a bench seat in the second row. Both recline for comfort, tilt forward for third-row access and also slide fore and aft to prioritize either second- or third-row legroom. Even with the second-row seats set in the normal position, the third row is roomy enough for normal-sized adults for around-town trips.
Depending on trim level, the Sienna has up to 12 cupholders, and all models come with numerous storage compartments for stowing small items. A truly luxurious option is second-row lounge chairs, which recline with extended footrests for full LA-Z-BOY-style relaxation.
Parents will appreciate Toyota's Driver Easy Speak microphone system - it lets the driver and front passenger be heard over the din of rowdy youngsters. To better keep tabs on the denizens of the rear rows, a newly optional pull-down mirror allows the driver to look back without turning around.
When cargo hauling is the order of the day, the Sienna offers a voluminous 150 cubic feet of stowage space with the second- and third-row seats folded. Should there be a mixture of people and stuff to tote, folding only the third row seats (which features a 60/40 split function and fold flat into the floor) still provides 87.1 cubic feet. With all seats in place, there's 39.1 cubes to be had.
Design-wise, the interior tries hard to be trendy with unique instruments and a sweep of contrasting trim on the dashboard, but some materials look and feel downmarket. The available imitation wood trim isn't fooling anyone, either. Still, the controls are user-friendly, and an optional dual-screen rear-seat entertainment system can help make road trips fly by.
Toyota's Entune audio system with a 6.1-inch LCD touchscreen comes standard, as does Bluetooth connectivity with audio streaming. Entune can be upgraded with an App Suite that lets users access Bing search services, iheartradio.com and Pandora music, and concierge services like OpenTable and movietickets.com.
Riding on the same platform that underpins the popular Camry and numerous other Toyota models, the Sienna certainly isn't fun to drive but its handling is safe, secure and competent. Freeway merges and passing maneuvers are easily accomplished thanks to a direct-injected 3.5-liter V6 that seconds 296 horsepower and 263 lb-ft to the front wheels. Front-wheel drive and an automatic transmission come standard, and all-wheel drive is offered at an extra cost.
Trim Level Breakdown
The Sienna is offered in L, LE, SE, XLE and Limited trim levels. AWD is optional on all trims except the L.
The value-focused L comes standard with tri-zone climate control, a rear-view camera power windows and locks, keyless entry cruise control, a four-speaker AM/FM/CD/SiriusXM stereo system, three 12V power outlets and 17-inch alloy wheels.
The LE adds power sliding rear doors, a power-adjustable driver's seat, tri-zone automatic climate control, two extra speakers for the sound system, AUX and USB input jacks, Bluetooth connectivity, a 3.5-inch multi-information display and 18-inch alloy wheels.
The "sporty" SE model brings a performance-tuned suspension, a more aggressive body kit, smoked rear taillights and 19-inch alloy wheels. Inside, upgrades include leatherette upholstery and unique instruments.
The XLE builds on the LE's features with perforated leather upholstery, heated front seats, a power-adjustable front passenger's seat, a blind spot monitor, an LCD instrument cluster display and a fixed center console with imitation wood trim.
Finally, the high-end Limited brings a premium JBL audio system with a six-disc CD changer, a proximity key with push-button start, dual sunroofs, front and rear parking sonar and 18-inch machined-finish alloy wheels.
Highlights from the options list include a navigation system, a dual-screen DVD rear entainment system and Entune, a multimedia system that offer apps like Bing search services, iheartradio.com and Pandora music and concierge services like OpenTable and movietickets.com.
All Sienna models come standard with dual front, front knee, front side and full-length side curtain airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems, brake assist and a tire-pressure monitoring system.
An optional pre-collision system can apply the brakes to mitigate damage when it senses that a crash is imminent.