Toyota’s Sienna remains one of the more popular minivans. Like rival minivan makers, Toyota continues to challenge the long-standing stigma of an unexciting vehicle made for transporting kids around suburban neighborhoods. That stigma, which emerged as SUVs, then crossover models, began to attract families, appears to be easing a bit lately. Whether that’s true or not, the Sienna demonstrates that minivans still rank among the most spacious and accommodating vehicles on the market. Toyota has one particular feature in its favor, too: Sienna is the only remaining minivan to be available with all-wheel drive.
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2016 Toyota Sienna Overview
What's New for 2016
Last year, the Sienna got a mild facelift. For 2016 it’s a carryover, with no significant changes except for an upgraded multimedia system with Siri Eyes Free mode. A new Connected Navigation Scout GPS App Link for Entune Audio Plus works with a smartphone to provide navigation functionality.
Choosing Your Toyota Sienna
All Siennas contain a 3.5-liter V6 engine that makes 266 horsepower and 245 pound-feet of torque, driving a six-speed automatic transmission. Most are front-wheel drive models, but all-wheel drive is an option on LE, XLE and Limited trim levels. Seating capacity may be either seven or eight passengers, depending on trim level and chosen options. With the second-row seat stowed and third row removed, you get up to 150 cubic feet of space, sufficient to carry 4x8-foot plywood sheets.
Eight airbags are standard. With the standard Tow Prep Package, a Sienna can pull a 3,500-pound trailer, but it’s not the thriftiest. Fuel economy is estimated at 18 mpg in city driving and 25 mpg on the highway. All-wheel drive reduces each figure by 2 mpg.
Premium editions of SE, XLE and Limited trim levels, with additional features, are available. An Outdoor Package includes roof-rack crossbars, all-weather mats, mud guards, and door sill protectors
Periodic upgrades have kept the Sienna competitive in the minivan category, despite a handful of rivals that are arguably nicer in appearance or road behavior. The SE version is an interesting choice in terms of bypassing the “uncool” factor that still marks these vehicles. For many buyers, though, an XLE with all-wheel drive is a comfortable all-weather machine that would score well against most crossovers in terms of both space and slick-pavement traction -- along with overall value, considering what’s included.
2016 Toyota Sienna Review
Several manufacturers dropped out of the minivan market over the past decade, but Toyota remains a steadfast competitor with its Sienna. The only U.S. minivan with the option of all-wheel drive, the Sienna confidently defies the stigma of suburban minivan ownership, which has declined substantially but hardly disappeared.
Pricing and Equipment
Prices start at $28,850 (plus destination charge) for the budget-priced L edition, which is surprisingly well-equipped, including three-zone climate control and a rearview camera. Sienna comes in four additional trim levels: LE, a sportier SE, XLE, and top-of-the-line Limited. Except for upgraded multimedia features, the Sienna is unchanged for 2016, following a mild facelift last year.
Seating either seven or eight occupants, depending on second-row seat choice, the Sienna has a 3.5-liter V6 that develops 266 horsepower and 245 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission couples to front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is available for three trim levels.
Standard Sienna L (base model) equipment includes:
- Manual sliding side doors
- Power windows, locks, and mirrors
- Tri-zone automatic climate control
- Remote keyless entry
- Tilt/telescope steering column
- Automatic headlights
- Touchscreen radio
- Foldaway third-row seat
- Eight airbags
- Seventeen-inch alloy wheels
- Handling prowess beats that of most other minivans, and quick steering makes for satisfying urban maneuverability.
- With the standard Tow Prep Package, a Sienna can pull a 3,500-pound trailer.
- All-wheel drive is available, if only on LE, XLE, and Limited trim levels. AWD is a wise choice for drivers in regions with harsh winter weather.
- Highway behavior is good, but not necessarily the best of the lot.
- Nobody expects sporty behavior or energizing driving characteristics from a minivan, but the sport-tuned SE version feels almost the same as its mates.
- Visibility is great through big side windows, and a nearly flat, low cowl ensures fine views ahead. Front occupants also get plenty of storage compartments.
- Headroom is plentiful. Sliding second-row seats permit huge legroom, though getting into the second row takes a bit of a climb.
- Large, well-marked climate-control knobs sit beneath the central touchscreen.
- The gearshift lever is conveniently mounted right next to the climate knobs, within easy reach; and it’s simple to tell which gear you’re in.
- Short driver's seat bottoms affect thigh support, which is good but a little too obtrusive. Seat bolstering is on the mild side, too.
- In eight-passenger models, the center position in the second row is low and narrow.
The Most Pleasant Surprise
High equipment content in each trim level is welcome news. In addition, the Sienna conveys a highly practical feel, as well a strong sense of substantial construction, in accord with Toyota’s reputation for reliability.
The Least Pleasant Surprise
Nothing-special performance is easy enough to live with in a minivan, but gas mileage is nothing to boast about. The EPA estimates fuel economy at 18/25 mpg (city/highway) with front-drive, and only 16/23 mpg with all-wheel drive. Nissan and Honda front-drive minivans are estimated at 27-28 mpg in highway driving.
The Bottom Line
In addition to being one of the most popular minivans, Sienna is among the most spacious and accommodating vehicles of any sort. With the second-row seat stowed and third row removed, you get up to 150 cubic feet of space. A choice of five trim levels means there should be a Sienna for every sort of likely customer.
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