For sheer practicality, it’s tough to beat a box on wheels. That’s why families who haven’t succumbed to the popularity of SUVs rave about their minivans to anyone who will listen. Plenty of room for the kids and all their friends, features galore, and (in our winning model) terrific fuel economy – what’s not to like?
The 2023 Toyota Sienna retains everything great about the modern minivan and adds an efficient hybrid powertrain under its hood as standard equipment, and it’s so good at doing its job that it has been voted as the Best Minivan in the 2023 AutoTrader Awards.
The Sienna’s gas-sipping powertrain has two electric motors working in concert with a high-efficiency 2.5L four-cylinder engine. Good for a total of 245 horsepower, the Sienna won’t inspire any poetry about performance, but is more than sufficient to haul its way up to speed on the highway. Best of all, the front-wheel drive Sienna vans are rated to return 6.6 L/100 km in combined city/highway driving conditions, with the all-wheel drive variants giving up just 0.1 L/100 km in the same cycle. That’s remarkable efficiency for such a commodious vehicle.
Still, while van owners enjoy the space, they don’t want to feel as if they are driving a bus. To that end, the design team created an instrument panel made from horizontal layers, expressing a wide and spacious interior using the same trick your author does with vertical-lined shirts to make himself appear slimmer. A large centre touch display and slick storage compartments are all part and parcel of the van’s innovative so-called Bridge Console, a key element of dealing personalized space to the driver and front passenger instead of making them feel like they’re sitting in an empty warehouse.
That neat Bridge Console is a very innovative solution, providing a departure from the layouts of other minivans. The bridge is positioned high between the driver and passenger for easy reach of controls, connecting the instrument panel to a centre armrest. The shifter and necessary functions are all logically placed. Cupholders, an available wireless charger, and ample storage bins for smaller items join a large open area beneath the bridge, which is perfect for the convenient storage of larger personal items or hiding the candy you don’t want to share with the kids.
Some trims are fitted with eight-passenger seating, but those who opt for the seven-passenger configuration and its comfortable captain’s chairs are in for a treat. Able to slide more than two feet fore and aft, these thrones can open limo-like legroom or be positioned at staggered intervals to keep sibling rivals at bay. An available ottoman feature will remind some travellers of fancy first-class airplane seats. Combine them with the flip-down 11.6-inch high-def movie screen on upper-rung trims and you have a space some passengers won’t want to leave.
Our jury of more than 20 automotive experts from across the country considered every single minivan available for Canadians to buy and voted for the best ones using a dozen different criteria ranging from safety and quality to efficiency and performance. These criteria are weighted with a critical eye to the segment’s intended purpose; for example, passenger comfort and cargo versatility were more important here than in the performance car category.
Pricing for the 2023 Toyota Sienna starts at just $41,650, which is tremendous value for a machine that can carry eight people, keep warring factions at bay with tri-zone climate control, and has the security of Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 active driving aids. Adding all-wheel drive adds about $2,000 onto the sticker price and should be seriously considered by any Canadian family planning on taking troops to the rink for 6:00 am hockey practice.
Commodious, sure-footed, and fuel efficient? It’s no wonder the Toyota Sienna has been voted as the winner of our 2023 Best Minivan award.