Let's put the good news right up front: We've logged over 30,000 miles on our latest AWD Toyota Sienna, equipped with run-flat tires, and we still have decent tire life left. Tire wear had been a noted owner concern with the previous model. (See our tire buying ad
The redesigned 2011 Sienna is the only minivan available with all-wheel drive. As a concession to packaging the AWD system, it only comes with run-flat tires -- there's no space to accommodate a spare. We learned from many owners of the previous version that they were unimpressed with the short tread life, narrow choices and cost of replacement run-flats. (Read: "Toyota Sienna AWD run-flat tires: No worse for wear.")
More good news: Bridgestone addressed the price premium for replacing run-flats, bringing the cost more in line with conventional tires. However, compared to the previous model, the 2011 AWD Sienna rides on larger and pricier Turanza EL400 02 235/55RF18 tires. A replacement Bridgestone run-flat tire will cost more than $200, about $50 more than conventional tires. At this time, we haven't found another manufacturer who makes replacement run-flats for the 2011 AWD Sienna. But, to Bridgestone's credit, the company does sell a winter tire.
When we bought our 2011 Sienna, we were happy to see Toyota provided a supplemental guide describing run-flat tires equipped on the AWD model and how they work. Still, we were apprehensive about the tread-life expectations noted in the guide, which said "Tread life of AWD Sienna's run-flat tires may be as low as 15,000-20,000 miles and may be as high as 40,000 miles."
With the hint or even suggestion that our new Sienna's tires might be giving us the same short tread-life, we decided to run an extended evaluation with our AWD version. We wanted to find out if owners would again be saddled with fast-wearing run-flat tires.
So we set off to run more than 30,000 miles on the van with a mix of highway and secondary roads and, of course, the variability's of our New England weather. We started with the original-equipment tires that came on our new Sienna, and, as we do with every tested vehicle, we put it through our road test evaluations, which include hard braking and track handling. After the road test, we started raking up the extra miles; it wasn't too hard to do since the Sienna is a favorite for family vacations, as well as simply hauling people and cargo on local treks.
Our first tire rotation took place at over 10,000 miles and then again at approximately 17,000 miles. Toyota recommends routine tire rotations at 5,000 miles, but our cycle occurred at longer intervals, reflecting likely consumer practice.
We paused at 30,532 miles to assess the wear and found that the tires still have plenty of tread left. In fact, we predict that we'll get around 56,300 miles out of this set.
Overall, when you add in the rigors of minivan life, we were very impressed with tires' wear potential. We think the tires are as good as or better than other original-equipment tires that come on numerous cars we road test.
Keep in mind tire tread life can vary significantly depending how you drive, where you drive, and a host of many other factors. Getting the most out of your run-flats (or any tire for that matter) means keeping your tires properly inflated and rotating them as recommended. Always read your car's owner's manual for additional tips on tire care.