If you're in the market for a new minivan, there's a pretty good chance that the Toyota Sienna is on your short list. Besides being practical and reliable, it also happens to be a sensible alternative to large SUVs offering seating for up to eight. It's also the only minivan on the market available with all-wheel drive, and there’s even a sport-tuned model for enthusiast parents.
In its current form, the basic design of the Sienna has been around since 2011 and has been subject to continual improvement. Revisions to the cabin in 2015 improved its usability and gave it a more upscale appearance thanks to higher quality materials. For 2017, Toyota has turned its attention to the Sienna's powertrain.
First announced for the model year 2017 Highlander crossover, the Sienna also receives a new 3.5-litre V6 engine with the D4-S direct injection and port injection system. It also now runs on the lean-burn Atkinson cycle for a further boost in efficiency. These tweaks give the Sienna a lift in power to 296 hp a 30-hp gain, while torque jumps from 245 lb-ft to 263. In addition, the Sienna also receives two additional gears in its automatic transmission for a total of eight which will simultaneously improve performance and efficiency.
Thanks in part to these changes, front-wheel drive Siennas are rated at 12.5 L/100 km city and 8.9 L/100 km highway. With these upgrades, the Sienna grabs the title of the most powerful and most efficient minivan, Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid aside. While not as efficient as the front-drive version, the Sienna AWD provides all-weather traction with still-decent fuel economy. A city rating of 13.4 L/100 km and a highway rating of 9.6 makes this one a decent option
With a starting price of $33,420, the Sienna comes well equipped with most modern conveniences. A reverse camera is standard, is three-zone climate control, Bluetooth, a touchscreen infotainment system with USB ports, Siri Eyes-Free, and even heated mirrors. While other minivans may sell for less money, they lack this level of standard equipment. This model only has seating for seven due to its second-row captain's chairs.
Those looking to move eight can opt for the LE trim or the SE trim. The LE gets a bigger infotainment display, satellite radio, heated front seats with eight-way power adjustment, power sliding doors, and 17-inch alloy wheels.
It's hard to think of any minivan as sporting, but were there one, it'd be the Sienna SE. Beyond its 19-inch wheels, body kit, and unique instruments, it receives different suspension and steering tuning than comfort oriented models. Buyers should take note that while it has less body roll than just about any minivan, the ride is noticeably firmer.
At the top end of the range is the Limited trim, which gets a premium audio system, a massive 16.4-inch widescreen Blu-Ray rear screen entertainment system, navigation, heated steering wheel, rain-sensing wipers, HID headlamps and dual power moonroof.
AWD models come in LE, XLE, and Limited trim; seating for seven is standard.
If there is one area which Toyota could improve upon, it's in active safety. Neither emergency autonomous braking nor radar cruise control or lane-keeping assist are available. Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are offered only on the SE with Technology Package, XLE, and Limited trims.
Pricing for the Sienna starts at $33,420 for the base trim and tops out at $51,445 for the Limited AWD.