- A handsome minivan
- Handling above par for class
- Choice in second row: bench or chair
- Second-row seats slide, fold, don't stow
- Gets expensive quickly
The 2015 Toyota Sienna only lags behind its main competitors in seating flexibility and fuel economy, while a freshened interior and massaged exterior keep it at the forefront of minivan stylishness—if there is such a thing.
Minivans such as the 2015 Toyota Sienna have a tough mission: keep occupants happy and occupied in their on comfortable spaces. Minivans aren't usully considered the coolest shapes on the road, but they're one of the best ways to move a large group of people or a whole lot of stuff. For 2015, the Sienna receives upgrades, new options, and a general refresh that should help achieve that mission.
The Sienna's one of the best-selling minivans in America, and for good reason. It's spacious, safe, posts good fuel economy figures, and vies with the Honda Odyssey with its flexible-seating game--though both still lose that scrimmage to Chrysler's pair of people-haulers, the Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country.
Few of us shop for minivans based on style, but Toyota at least makes the effort to bring the Sienna into a modern flow. The front end shares the latest Toyota design cues, with a low grille that tapers upward softly into a roofline that does nothing to upset tradition--not like the Honda Odyssey's lightning-bolt side cue, or the Nissan Quest's ape of the Ford Flex. It's a tidy take, free of controversy, and full of utility, since the regular, rectangular shape plays out directly into vast interior space. The cockpit's styled with a bit of drama, and a bit too much grainy plastic, but it's organized with care.
Minivans are all about space and functionality. At more than 200 inches long, and more than 78 inches wide, the Sienna's a big van. There's space everywhere, even in the third row. The front seats get a regal seating position, and even in the second row, a pair of airline-style reclining bucket seats are available (now only on front-drive Limited models). The basic bench is comfortable, with expansive head and leg room--and it slides on an elongated track so that either second- or third-row leg room can be expanded. It also aids in loading passengers into the third row. The second-row seat can be removed entirely, but does not fold away into the floor--the Chrysler minivans' special trick. The third-row seat does fold flat, and with it stowed and the middle seats pushed forward, the Sienna has 150 cubic feet of cargo space.
Toyota has also stiffened the chassis and made aerodynamic improvements, although the latter doesn't seem to have had any effect on EPA fuel-economy ratings. This model's four-cylinder engine is now long gone, too, so all Siennas come with a 3.5-liter V-6 with 266 horsepower, coupled to a six-speed automatic. Performance is brisk, although gas mileage has dipped overall in the past several years with the loss of the base four-cylinder, while it rose on the Honda Odyssey. Handling isn't quite as crisp as the Odyssey, but the Sienna's electric power steering and independent suspension are sorted out well, without much body roll. The SE version has slightly more direct feel, although to be fair it's a very subtle distinction to be drawn—one we think gets missed by most minivan shoppers. The Sienna does hold the distinction of being the only minivan still available with all-wheel drive.
For 2015, most models get a new grille and updated head- and taillights. A revised interior includes easier-to-operate controls in some areas, as well as new gauges and larger center screens. Toyota claims to have improved the cabin materials as well as the steering wheel.
Standard safety features include curtain airbags and stability control, while Bluetooth is available, and blind-spot monitors are now standard on upper trims. For 2015, a backup camera is now standard across all trim levels. There's also an additional airbag, located in the front seat cushion, to bring the total to a class-leading eight. And Toyota has increased the number of LATCH anchor points from three to four.
All Siennas come with dual sliding side doors; power windows, locks and mirrors; cruise control; a CD player and aux jack; a tilt/telescoping steering wheel; and three-zone climate control. Upscale versions add a power tailgate and power sliding side doors; steering-wheel audio controls; leather upholstery; heated front seats; a dual sunroof; and a huge 16.4-inch-wide LCD screen and a DVD player to keep the two back rows of passengers entertained. For 2015, there's a new Dualview BluRay entertainment system available, with HDMI, RCA, and SD-Card inputs.