These days, the idea of a minivan isn't necessarily the most appealing to many people, but the few and the proud like the 2019 Toyota Sienna continue to soldier on. Like all minivans, the Sienna offers endless practicality in a family-oriented package, while offering all-wheel drive as well. That being said, Toyota seems to have stopped paying attention to it and it feels outclassed by many rivals.

Best Value

The Toyota Sienna really shines in the SE trim, with the heated faux leather seats and power liftgate. We'd also go for the all-wheel-drive configuration, as it also adds more comfortable captain's chairs for the second row instead of the bench.

As for options, the SE Preferred Package adds an exhaustive list of extras for only $3,815 that make us question why anyone would buy a more expensive Sienna. In fact, the total price of a Sienna SE with this package is actually $2,280 less than the Sienna SE Premium, which only adds real leather seats and a rear seat entertainment screen. Considering most minivans are bought to haul kids, we'd much rather have the fake leather than having to worry about the kids messing up the real stuff, and in a world where families carry multiple tablets and phones that have endless entertainment, who needs a rear entertainment screen anyways?

  • Model: 2019 Toyota Sienna SE
  • Engine:3.5-liter V6
  • Output: 296 hp / 263 lb-ft
  • Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
  • Drivetrain: All-wheel drive
  • MPG: 18 City / 24 Hwy
  • Options:All-wheel drive ($1,505), SE Preferred Package ($3,815, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, rear parking assist, keyless entry with push button start, remote illuminated entry, a moonroof, a premium audio system, navigation, seven-inch touchscreen, Wi-Fi)
  • Base Price: $38,310 (including the $1,045 destination charge)
  • Best Value Price:$43,630

Performance

Toyota Sienna

The Toyota Sienna may get only one engine choice, but it's a hefty one. Underneath the hood of all Siennas is a 3.5-liter V6 that puts out 296 horsepower. While that's not going to win you any races at the drag strip, it's enough power to make accelerating to highway speeds on an on-ramp with a bunch of kids in the back a complete non-event. The eight-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly and effortlessly. The one downside to this engine is that it isn't the most fuel-efficient motor around, managing an EPA-estimated 19 miles per gallon city, 27 mpg highway, and 22 combined (or 18/24/20 mpg with all-wheel drive).

What really stands out about the Sienna is that it's the only minivan to offer all-wheel drive. While the need for all-wheel drive may be overblown in the heads of many, it's a neat feature for those who may find themselves in slippery conditions on a regular basis. While AWD may help in the handling department, this isn't a sports car even with the sportier design and suspension of the SE. That being said, let's recognize that the Toyota Sienna is a minivan, and a minivan is meant to carry people around comfortably, a task that the Sienna rises to excellently.

Style

Minivans have always been more about function over form, but the Sienna tends to somehow look both awkward and forgettable. The big grille and slanted headlights look like the designers tried to make it look sporty and aggressive, a notion that need not apply to minivans. However, they seemed to have only partially committed to that idea before giving up and going to lunch. SE models do have sportier side skirts, but it isn't enough to improve the overall look.

It seems that the interior design of minivans these days aims to make the driver feel like they're in a spaceship as opposed to a boxy kid-hauler, with a plethora of screens, dials, and technology that look cool and interesting. The Sienna certainly has that, but the real importance of a minivan is practicality. "How much stuff can you store where, and how easy is it to do it?" is the mantra of the minivan buyer, and the Sienna answers that question well. The van can hold a lot of stuff with the seats folded, although the seats do not stow away like you see in the Honda Odessey and Chrysler Pacifica.

The Best and Worst Things

The Toyota Sienna's shining feature is the available all-wheel drive. It adds a sense of security to many drivers, and the fact that it's the only minivan that offers it certainly makes the Sienna stand out.

However, the biggest flaw for this family-mover is the poor crash ratings. While the Sienna comes standard with a load of active safety features like automatic emergency braking, it only manages an "Acceptable" overall score from the IIHS, with "Marginal" impact ratings and "Poor" structural scores for the passenger side. As a family vehicle, a minivan should be very safe, so it's problematic that the Sienna receives these grades.

Right For? Wrong For?

Toyota Sienna

Like all minivans, the Sienna is purpose built for carrying kids. It's not flashy or cool, but the entire design from the ground up is built to do that task as well as possible. SUVs may be trendy these days, but they don't even have sliding doors, which would prevent you from leaving a note every time one of the rugrats dings a car in a parking lot (you do leave notes, don't you?).

However, if you don't have this specific need, you probably don't need or want a minivan. Minivans are expensive niche items these days, and an SUV or wagon will probably suit you better.

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, the 2019 Toyota Sienna is a perfectly average minivan. Honda, Chrysler, and Kia's offerings are much newer and nicer than the Sienna, but none of them offer all-wheel drive. Regardless, no one will ever fault you for buying the Toyota.