When it comes to family transportation, it's hard to beat a minivan for moving your brood and its stuff. And among minivans, the Sienna is a rational choice.
Its long list of strong suits include a comfortable ride and an energetic powertrain that returns respectable fuel economy: The front-wheel-drive version we tested returned 21 mpg. Those looking for an all-wheel-drive will find that the Sienna is the only game in town. That extra winter traction and peace of mind will sacrifice about one mpg and eliminates the spare tire for run-flat tires.
However, there's no particular joy in driving the Sienna. Handling falls short of being agile or engaging, even with the sporty SE version. But it's ultimately secure when push comes to shove. Ride comfort, on the other hand, is quite accomplished, absorbing pavement flaws nicely while also keeping the cabin quiet. Plenty of reserve power is underfoot for a quick highway merge or a hill climb. But the transmission isn't exactly a model of smoothness.
You buy a minivan for its practical interior, and the Sienna doesn't disappoint. The cabin is spacious and versatile, with available seating for eight. Fancy top-line Limited versions offer second-row lounge seating, complete with footrests.
Up-to-date connectivity is there for the taking with Toyota's Entune touch-screen audio system standard. An easy-speak feature utilizes the audio speakers when conversing between front- and third-row passengers. The interior is nicely furnished with the XLE version having soft-touch materials, contrasting stitches and wood accents, adding some class.
Minivan buyers tend to be protective of their passengers, but the Sienna makes it difficult to get advanced safety equipment. While forward collision warning (FCW) with automatic emergency braking is optional, it's only on the very top trim level. All become standard for the 2018 model year. At least blind-spot monitoring is readily available or standard on mid-grade trims.
The Sienna may not have the Chrysler Pacifica styling but buyers who value reliability, peace-of-mind or all-wheel-drive will find the Toyota a very sensible choice.