I’m not ashamed to admit this review started for purely selfish reasons. Being honest is important in this field, after all.
For my better half and I, the holiday season is an especially busy one, with half a dozen families to visit. We needed something to haul people and things in comfort. The market has seemingly decided the answer for that is a crossover, but I was determined to put the real practical option, the humble minivan, to the test. The Toyota Sienna remains one of the most popular of the breed, and a week with it went a long way to explaining why that is.
Whether it’s shuttling four adults and all their gifts to the next nog-fuelled party, or getting the little ones (and their friends) to soccer practice, nothing can match the sheer usability of a minivan.
Big is Beautiful
You want space? The Sienna has so much you could list it as an apartment in NYC. Our tester came in the eight-seat format, but we ran it as a seven-seater during its time with us. The middle perch of the second row is a tiny, removable seat, which stows away in a dedicated cubby in the trunk.
It’s a weird, contradictory feeling sitting up front: even resting my elbow on the door felt like a stretch, yet the Sienna was never unwieldy navigating city streets. Sight lines out of the big boy are clear, thanks to its comparatively huge expanses of glass versus something like the new 2020 Toyota Highlander. And let’s all agree that powered sliding doors are infinitely better for crowded parking lots.
Front row seats are supremely comfortable, making multi-hour highway drives easy-peasy. The middle row ain’t bad either: the $38,835 SE trims them in the same perforated leather as the front seats, and there’s enough fore and aft adjustment that even the lankiest of adults can get comfortable. Even the third row is fine for adults. It’s not ideal for three-abreast situations, or long distances, but it’s perfectly serviceable for toddlers and teens. There are more than enough cupholders for everyone in the back two rows, plus retractable sunshades should anybody doze off.
Engine: 3.5L V6
Output: 296 hp, 263 lb-ft
U.S. Fuel Economy (mpg, city/highway/combined): 19/27/22
CAN Fuel Economy (L/100 km, city/highway/combined): 12.6/9.1/11.0
Starting Price (USD): $32,685 (inc. destination)
As-Tested Price (USD): $39,535 (inc. destination, est)
Starting Price (CAD): $37,590 (inc. destination)
As-Tested Price (CAD): $45,850 (inc. destination)