Minivan performance is more of a relative conversation, mostly focused on merging onto the highway and the ability to accelerate off the line. However, the Sienna SE is designed to offer a little extra driving involvement for those who need a minivan, but didn't want to give up all of the excitement behind the wheel.
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.
What's missing 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 2014 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 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.