The last time the industry sold 1 million minivans was in 2006, just ahead of the recession and during the early days of crossover utility vehicles. Today, just under 500,000 units are sold in the U.S. annually, as manufacturers such as Ford, GM, and Nissan no longer participate.
But the segment is not dead and we may also see some stabilization as the remaining players battle it out. These models include the Chrysler Pacifica, Dodge Grand Caravan, Honda Odyssey, Kia Sedona, and the Toyota Sienna.
Toyota is the second best-selling model in the segment, surrounded by Fiat Chrysler’s two entries. The Grand Caravan maintains its top position as a volume leader — you’ll find it frequently available in rental fleets, hence its sales leadership.
2019 Toyota Sienna Overview
Toyota offers the 2019 Sienna in seven trims. Most notably, it is the only model available with all-wheel drive. Like its competitors, the Sienna is front-wheel drive with room for seven or eight.
The base L model starts at $31,315. It is followed by the LE ($34,135), LE with Auto Access Seat ($40,060), SE ($37,465), XLE ($37,465), XLE with Auto Access Seat ($43,600), and the Limited ($44,210). Models equipped with the access seat feature a power-rotating lift-up seat on the second row, passenger side. Choose all-wheel drive and your cost rises by $1,505 and your seating capacity drops from eight to seven. Add $1,060 for the destination charge.
As with most any model, Toyota offers package options with the Sienna, but not with every trim. The base “L” trim does not have a package. The LE offers the LE Preferred Package ($955), which adds a blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, and a keyless entry system with push-button start and remote illumination entry. Move up to the SE model and you’ll find a Moonroof with Sunshade Package option ($850). You’ll also find an SE Preferred Package ($3,815), which builds on the LE and moonroof packages. Here, you’ll also find a 10-speaker JBL audio system, navigation, Wi-Fi, and other tech features.
Choose the XLE model and you’ll find a Navigation Package ($1,410). Among the tech upgrades here are additional USB ports and rear parking assist. The top Limited trim offers a Premium Package ($3,520), which adds high-intensity discharge headlamps and rain-sensing wipers.
A Matter of Style
Minivans share a common layout marked by a sloped hood, long slab-sided bodies, and a rear liftgate. Variations on the theme typically mimic what the automakers offer elsewhere. Indeed, the Sienna’s front fascia matches well with other Toyota products dating back a few years, but it doesn’t have the extreme cutouts or pronounced creases found on the Camry or the C-HR.
The Sienna’s front end is not unlike the previous-generation Avalon with its narrow upper-grille and oversized lower grille. Signature lines connect the headlamps and the taillights with rocker panel sculpting evident. The dual rear sliding doors move all the way to the back when open. The rear liftgate rises well above head level.
All models come with alloy wheels. Most trims include projector-beam halogen headlights. Among the upgrades are LED daytime running lights, fog lights, heated side mirrors, power sliding doors, and designer wheels.
Inside, the cabin is cavernous, offering room for eight or for seven with the second-row seat replaced by Captain’s chairs. The latter is the arrangement you’ll find with all-wheel drive models and some trims.
Toyota arranges the Sienna’s dashboard by facing the bulk of it forward and towards the passengers. The instrument panel and center display blend with the stick shift lever located on the upper part of the stack and to the left of the cabin controls. A huge open storage area splits the front seats along with an equally large storage compartment between those seats.
Our all-wheel-drive test model had the second-row captain’s chairs, which offered comfort rivaling the front row. Dual armrests, seat maneuverability, and ample legroom make these seats the ideal choice. If you don’t need space for eight, this is the option you want — the rear-seated passengers will be pleased as well with more room to maneuver. On top trim Limited models, the middle seats recline and incline seat extenders and footrests.
Standard features include cloth seats, three-zone climate control, full power accessories, and a tilt-and-telescoping steering column. The list of upgrades includes imitation leather or genuine leather seats, power front seats, heated front seats, second- and third-row sunshades, a heated steering wheel, and a power-controlled third-row seat.
Storage space is everything with minivans and supplies another reason why these models have staying power. The Sienna’s second- and third-row seats fold down/forward, but they also may be removed, supplying 150 cubic-feet of storage capacity. You’ll go well beyond yard sales finds to bring home your estate largesse.
Safety & Technology
Toyota equips the Sienna with a six-speaker audio system, a 7-inch touch-screen display, Siri Eyes Free, a CD player, Bluetooth, and USB ports. You also get the Scout GPS Link app, which supplies directions. But it isn’t as dependable as Apple CarPlay, which is now standard. Unfortunately, Google Android Auto compatibility is not yet possible.
Upgrades include HD Radio, satellite radio, a 120-volt power outlet, additional USB ports, and a premium audio system. Toyota also offers a Blu-Ray disc entertainment system beginning with the XLE trim, which includes dual screens, an app suite, and two 120-volt power outlets.
On the safety front, Toyota “brings it” with its standard suite of bundled equipment. Under the Toyota Safety Sense (TSS) umbrella, you’ll find automatic high beams, dynamic radar cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assist, and a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection.
Available options include a blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, a rear parking assist sonar, and a bird’s eye view camera. Upgrades in headlight technology accompany the top-trim model. In all, Toyota’s standard safety package leads the segment, although its competitors offer similar technologies.
On the Road
There isn’t a minivan on the market with performance credentials, despite what some manufacturers might suggest. Typically, what you have is a vehicle with a V6 engine delivering just under 300 horsepower. That’s a far cry from the original minivan models, for vehicles that are equal in size to today’s three-row midsize crossovers.
Powering the 2019 Sienna is a familiar 3.5-liter V6 gas engine. This one makes 296 horsepower and 263 foot-pounds of torque, best-in-class numbers. An 8-speed automatic transmission sends power to the wheels. Besides carrying a full load of people and their stuff, the Sienna possesses a 3,500-pound tow rating.
It takes a moment to get used to the transmission’s location on the center stack. Activate the ignition, move the shift lever to drive, and the Sienna moves forward with ease. The engine delivers ample energy and, under hard acceleration, its full power becomes evident. The transmission is paired well here too as it moves between gears with ease.
This model’s light steering will please most drivers. The Sienna stays planted and offers a comfortable ride. You’ll have to make allowance for this vehicle’s wide turning radius and top-heavy feel, the latter especially obvious when cornering. No surprises here — the Sienna keeps up with the competition and supplies an alternative to the similar Highlander crossover.
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We like that Toyota offers an all-wheel-drive Sienna. Choose this option if you live wherever winter conditions weigh in. Otherwise, the front-wheel-drive arrangement should work well for most consumers.
Start your search beyond the base model and all-wheel drive becomes available. Choose the SE with the SE Premium Package and you’ll enjoy many of the amenities that families desire. Priced from $41,280 before discounts, this model may supply everything you want in a family hauler.
2019 Toyota Sienna Specifications
- Sticker price from $32,375 (includes $1,060 destination charge)
- Price as tested: $45,223
- Seats seven or eight
- Engine: 3.5-liter V6 gas
- 296 hp @ 6,600 RPM
- 263 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4,700 RPM
- 8-speed automatic transmission
- Wheelbase: 119.3 inches
- Length: 200.6 inches
- Width: 78.1 inches
- Height: 68.9 inches
- Passenger volume: 164.4 cubic feet
- Storage volume: 39.1/87.1/117.8 (150.0 with 2nd row seats removed) cubic feet
- Towing capacity: 3,500 pounds
- EPA: 19/27/22 mpg city/highway/combined (FWD)
- Regular gasoline
- Fuel tank: 20 gallons
- Curb weight: From 4,655 to 4,750 pounds
- IIHS safety rating: Good, except marginal or acceptable small overlap front
- Limited vehicle warranty: 36 months/36,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty: 60 months/60,000 miles
- Corrosion warranty: 60 months/unlimited miles
- Vehicle assembly: Princeton, Indiana
See Also — Toyota FJ Cruiser: One and Done
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