- Ride comfort and quiet interior
- Reputation for reliability
- Extensive features and options
- Seating isn’t as versatile as some rivals
- Dated styling
- Dull interior materials
The 2008 Toyota Sienna minivan does almost everything right for the family, with a roomy, functional interior and great ride comfort, but there’s not a lot of personality.
Toyota’s minivan model, the Sienna, is a large, comfortable van ideal for big families or extended road trips. The popular Toyota Sienna can seat up to eight and haul them in relative quickness, thanks to its 3.5-liter V-6, rated at 266 horsepower.
The 2008 Toyota Sienna isn’t especially exciting to drive, but its engine is one of the smoothest and quietest in its class, the transmission shifts without hesitation, the interior is especially hushed, and the ride is smooth and somewhat soft, though the Sienna maneuvers very well.
LE, XLE, and XLE Limited models are available with a road-oriented all-wheel-drive system, but the base CE and all the other models come with standard front-wheel drive.
Although minivans are typically purchased more on the basis of practicality and functional design than cutting-edge style, the Sienna hasn’t been completely redesigned since 2003, as a 2004 model. Inside it offers an interior configuration that’s very competitive and spacious. The third-row seats fold neatly into a well, allowing plenty of flat, low space for groceries while seating for five is still up; at the same time, the second-row seats fold down for space that permits an actual 4x8 sheet of plywood. Top 2008 Toyota Sienna XLE and XLE Limited models get twin captain’s chairs in the second row instead of the three-place bench seat.
The Sienna’s interior is rich on features—including dual sliding doors and the stowing third-row seats on all models, with power sliding doors, a power folding third row, and a power rear tailgate available up the range—but its interior materials and appointments feel a little skimpy compared to other minivan models.
The options list on the 2008 Toyota Sienna is more extensive than for most minivans, with a closed-circuit rearview video camera, front/rear parking proximity warnings, side sunshades, laser-guided cruise control, a DVD entertainment system, satellite navigation system, and a JBL surround-sound audio system (standard on the XLE Limited) that includes Bluetooth.
Electronic stability control and anti-lock brakes are now standard on every grade of the 2008 Toyota Sienna, as are front side airbags and side curtain bags covering all three seating rows. The Sienna has quite good results in U.S. crash tests, with four- and five-star ratings for frontal impact, five stars in side impact from the federal government, and "good" judgements from the IIHS in frontal and side impact. But the IIHS deemed the Sienna "poor" in the seat-based rear impact test, which gauges the risk of whiplash injury among other things.