Toyota Sienna vs. Toyota Highlander

By

Automotive Editor

Based out of the Washington, D.C. area, Joel Patel is an automotive journalist that hails from Northern Virginia. His work has been featured on various automotive outlets, including Autoweek, Digital Trends, and Autoblog. When not writing about cars, Joel enjoys trying new foods, wrenching on his car, and watching horror movies. 

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, Automotive Editor - February 24, 2020

Minivans were once the go-to family vehicles. Generous seating, spacious cargo areas, and wide openings thanks to sliding doors made minivans the perfect vehicles for families. But consumer interests have changed, leading the way for larger crossovers and SUVs to become the preferred method of family transportation.

Toyota is one of the few automakers that continues to sell a minivan, the Sienna, despite the increase in popularity of utility vehicles. For consumers that aren’t interested in a minivan, they can head across the showroom and check out the three-row Highlander crossover, which is all-new for 2020.

See a side-by-side comparison of the Sienna & Highlander »

What the Highlander Gets Right

Minivans simply don’t look as good as utility vehicles. It’s not even a matter of taste, but simple proportions. While the Sienna looks ungainly and bulbous, the Highlander has a much more modern aesthetic that will surely appeal to more consumers.

While both options offer all-wheel drive, the Highlander’s crossover body gives it 1.5 inches of extra ground clearance, helping it perform better in inclement weather and over rough terrain.

For consumers that are interested in towing, the Highlander is the obvious choice. Both vehicles come with a 3.5-liter V6 that produces just shy of 300 horsepower, but its powertrain and body allow it to tow up to 5,000 pounds when properly equipped. The most the Sienna can tow is up to 3,500 pounds.

Three-row crossovers like the Highlander may not seem all that efficient, but the Highlander’s is more efficient than the Sienna. It gets an EPA-estimated 24 miles per gallon combined compared to the Sienna's 21 mpg combined.

What the Sienna Gets Right

Consumers looking to ferry up to eight people on a budget will find the Sienna to be the better value. Pricing for the Sienna starts at $32,510 including destination, while the Highlander costs $35,720. The $3,210 difference could be used to get into the Sienna LE trim and still check in less than the base Highlander.

The odd body shape may not look good on the road, but the Sienna offers much more cargo space. Behind the third row, consumers get 39.1 cubic feet of cargo capacity. That opens up to 87.1 cubic feet behind the second row or 150 cubic feet behind the first. The Highlander only offers 16/48.4/84.3 cubic feet.

In addition to having more cargo space, the Sienna is the option that offers more room for passengers. The Sienna has more front headroom in all three rows, more shoulder room in all three rows, more hip room in all three rows, and more legroom in the third row than the Highlander.

Need Space Where it Counts?

Shuffling up to eight passengers around isn’t exactly fun, but it can be comfortable. For consumers needing more space, the Sienna is the better choice, plus it's more affordable. It may not be enjoyable to drive or pretty, but a minivan is still the best choice when it comes to vehicles that can seat up to eight.

Our Verdict: Toyota Highlander

Unless you truly need a vehicle that has all that space, the Toyota Highlander is the better overall choice in this comparison. Its taller ride height means more capability in inclement weather, it has a higher towing capacity, it’s more efficient, and it looks better. For the majority of people that only need to use the third row occasionally, the Highlander’s smaller interior won’t be that much of a downside.

Take a closer look at the Toyota Highlander »

Take a closer look at the Toyota Sienna »

Side-by-side comparison of features, pricing, photos and more!

, Automotive Editor

Based out of the Washington, D.C. area, Joel Patel is an automotive journalist that hails from Northern Virginia. His work has been featured on various automotive outlets, including Autoweek, Digital Trends, and Autoblog. When not writing about cars, Joel enjoys trying new foods, wrenching on his car, and watching horror movies. 

Follow On: Twitter

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