Performance » 7
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PERFORMANCE | 7 out of 10
Its carlike ride and handling make it easy to forget that you're driving a minivan at all.
Talking about minivan performance? You're primarily talking about highway merging and off-the-line acceleration, even though Toyota's gone out of its way to breed an SE edition of its latest Sienna, specifically to appeal to people who have to have a minivan, but don't want to give up entirely on driving excitement.
What's missing this year from the Sienna performance portfolio is its former four-cylinder option. For the past two years we've thought the four was a good alternative to the optional V-6, since it kept the Sienna's price lower. It's gone for the 2013 model year, leaving the 3.5-liter V-6 and its 266 horsepower as the only engine offered. It's a good one, combined with a six-speed automatic for strong acceleration and fuel economy that's almost as good as the outgoing four. Mostly, we think, it's Toyota's need to install four-cylinders in other cars that brought about the change.
The latest Sienna carries over a straightforward MacPherson front strut and independent rear suspension. Electronic power steering is a new arrival, and it's fine in a vehicle like the Sienna, in which handling is a lower priority than space and fuel economy. While it's no sportscar, the Sienna has smooth ride motions and quick steering, making it nicely maneuverable in city driving.
A special SE edition gets tighter suspension tuning, big 19-inch wheels, and a lower body; it's a gamble that may not register with average minivan buyer, especially as it's a subtle difference from the XLE or Limited feel.
The Sienna is rated to tow up to 3,500 pounds, and itself weighs from 4,275 to 4,750 pounds. It's the only minivan to offer all-wheel drive, which accounts for the top end of that weight range.
It's V-6 only this year, and the Sienna's strong performance comes with an all-wheel-drive option.