2010 Toyota Sienna Review

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The Car Connection
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The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
January 18, 2010

The 2010 Toyota Sienna is not going to win any awards for driving pleasure, but for what it is, a family hauler, it’s more than adequate.

The editors at TheCarConnection.com have driven the Toyota Sienna and combine their own driving impressions with a practical assessment in this Bottom Line. They've also looked to some of the most respected review resources on the Web and selected some of the best excerpts for a Full Review on the 2010 Toyota Sienna.

The 2010 Toyota Sienna is a great example of a minivan. While not winning any awards for driving qualities, it excels at what it’s meant to do: comfortably and efficiently carry a family and all their gear.

The Sienna has remained virtually unchanged in the six years it's been on the market. This is rather telling in terms of its dull styling inside and out, especially when compared to its newer, chicer competitors.

Either way, those in the market for a larger family van will generally be pleased with the 2010 Toyota Sienna. The vehicle offers a 266-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 engine mated to a five-speed automatic transmission to briskly carry eight people inside. Minivan buyers might not be too interested in sports car handling, which the Sienna doesn’t have, but there’s a generous amount of power on tap if needed, even with a full load. The base Sienna is front-wheel drive, but the LE, XLE, and XLE Limited models are available with an optional all-wheel-drive system to help when things get slippery.

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The 2010 Sienna includes a very spacious interior with a third row of seats that fold neatly into a well, allowing plenty of flat, low space for cargo while maintaining seating for five. In case you need more space, the second row of seats can fold away as well, allowing you to carry things as big as 4x8 sheets of plywood. Note, however, that the top-of-the-line 2010 Toyota Sienna XLE and XLE Limited models get twin captain’s chairs in the second row instead of the three-place bench seat. Dual sliding doors and folding third-row seats are included on all models. A higher trim level gives you power sliding doors, a power folding third row, and a power rear tailgate. The only noticeable complaint might be that the interior materials and appointments feel a bit less refined compared to those of its competitors, though overall quality is still commendable.

One of the most crucial aspects for minivans is safety. After all, minivans are designed to carry your most precious cargo, and thankfully, the 2010 Toyota Sienna posts favorable results in independent crash tests. The vehicle scores four- and five-star ratings for frontal impact and five stars in side impact from the federal government, as well as "good" judgments from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in frontal and side impact tests. Unfortunately, the IIHS deems the Sienna "poor" in the seat-based rear impact test, which gauges the risk of whiplash injury, among other things. At least electronic stability control and anti-lock brakes are standard on every grade of the 2010 Toyota Sienna, along with front side airbags and side curtain bags covering all three seating rows.

Compared to luxury-branded vehicles, the 2010 Toyota Sienna’s options list is hardly lacking. Niceties include a rearview video camera, front/rear parking proximity warnings, side sunshades, laser-guided cruise control, a DVD entertainment system, satellite navigation, and a JBL surround-sound audio system (standard on the XLE Limited) that includes Bluetooth hands-free connectivity.

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2010 Toyota Sienna

Styling

The 2010 Toyota Sienna keeps it simple, with practicality its main selling point.

The Sienna has remained virtually unchanged in the six years it's been on the market. This is telling in terms of its rather dull design inside and out, especially when compared to its newer, more stylish competitors. In some ways, the simple one-box profile is dictated by the requirements of carrying as much as possible, be it passengers or cargo, coupled with fulfilling safety and fuel economy needs.

As can be expected of a minivan, the design of the 2010 Toyota Sienna is not something that most automotive writers rave about. Road & Track half-heartedly classifies it and other minivans as “family cartons,” and MyRide.com, the biggest fan of its lines, finds “the basic shape of the Sienna appealing,” though they cite its “sneering grille work and those big headlights” as the features that create the strongest impression. Kelley Blue Book offers mild praise, describing the Sienna as “smartly styled,” but admits that this generation of the van, now in its sixth year, “offers nothing radical in the way of exterior features or design.”

Inside, the Sienna isn't going to set any pulses racing, but the simplicity wins over some reviewers. Edmunds reports that “the Sienna’s spacious cabin is handsomely fitted.” MyRide.com claims the “Sienna driver sits before a smooth, organic dashboard, with a prominent if slightly awkward center stack.” They like its standard trim with its “dark, lacquered-look plastic,” but are less favorable of the faux wood on the XLE and limited, which “looks tacked on.”

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2010 Toyota Sienna

Performance

The performance levels of the 2010 Toyota Sienna are suited to the vehicle’s needs, offering enough power for overtaking but maintaining ordinarily safe handling.

Most in the market for a larger family van will generally be pleased with the way the 2010 Toyota Sienna performs. With a 266-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 engine mated to a five-speed automatic transmission, the vehicle can accommodate eight people.

The Sienna surprises with its straight-line acceleration, which should put a smile on the face of a parent who still enjoys a little driving excitement. The 3.5-liter DOHC V-6 features dual variable valve timing for the best of low-end torque and high-end power. Its 266 horsepower and 245 pound-feet of torque rating make it “the strong, silent type, rushing to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds” by Car and Driver’s stopwatch. Kelley Blue Book backs this up, stating that the engine “delivers where it counts.” Additionally, Edmunds admits “there's no denying the potency of the new V6 when you step into it.”

However, despite its athletic acceleration, the Sienna offers competitive EPA ratings of 17 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway for front-wheel-drive models. Opt for an all-wheel-drive model and you’ll see fuel economy drop to 16 mpg in the city and 21 mpg on the highway.

The 2010 Toyota Sienna only offers a five-speed automatic transmission, which reviewers find smooth and well suited when coupled with the V-6’s power. Car and Driver remarks that with the match of the engine and transmission, “if choosing a minivan came down to the powertrain, this Toyota would be a slam-dunk.” Edmunds faults the Sienna’s transmission, claiming that the “automatic transmission is calibrated more for fuel economy than performance and thus tends to shift conservatively.” Note that this is probably appropriate for a minivan, as well as for economy. Kelley Blue Book, however, contends that the transmission “makes the most of the engine's torque curve before seamlessly shifting to the next gear.”

The base Sienna is front-wheel drive, but the LE, XLE, and XLE Limited models are available with an optional all-wheel-drive system to help when things get slippery.

Handling might not be so enthusiastic in the 2010 Sienna, but it's at least maneuverable. Even the matter-of-fact reviewers over at ConsumerGuide note that “tire grip seems only adequate and the steering is a tad over-assisted.” Car and Driver faults the “the generally aloof responses of the controls,” and state that "the brakes feel wooden…the steering lacks sharpness.” On a positive note, those brakes are four-wheel discs, unlike the previous-generation Sienna, which makes do with drums on the rear. And despite its front-wheel-drive layout, the Sienna manages “a tidy turning circle of 36.8 feet…the envy of several passenger cars,” claims Car and Driver. More criticism comes from Edmunds, which notes that the “Sienna offers little inspiration in the handling department” and that it “feels secure enough” but offers “minimal steering feedback and considerable body roll.”

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2010 Toyota Sienna

Comfort & Quality

The 2010 Toyota Sienna provides near-Lexus refinement at Toyota prices—though its layout isn't quite up to the segment leaders.

The 2010 Sienna includes a very spacious interior with a third row of seats that fold neatly into a well, allowing plenty of flat, low space for cargo while maintaining seating for five. Note, however, that the top-of-the-line 2010 Toyota Sienna XLE and XLE Limited models get twin captain’s chairs in the second row instead of the three-place bench seat. Dual sliding doors and folding third-row seats are included on all models. A higher trim level gives you power sliding doors, a power folding third row, and a power rear tailgate.

Up front, ConsumerGuide reports “room aplenty on comfortable seats” and “no-strain entry and exit.” Furthermore, they appreciate that “standard seat and steering-wheel adjustments cater to most any size driver.” One of Car and Driver’s testers note “butt burn” from the driver's seat resulting from a shape that forces a thin person's weight uncomfortably forward on the cushion.

Edmunds finds that in the second and third row, the Sienna is “one of the roomiest minivans available,” and in Car and Driver’s minivan comparison, the Sienna’s optional “second-row captain's chairs were rated highest for comfort.” Kelley Blue Book notes that “the Sienna's seats take full advantage of the van's roomy interior, with wide seat bottoms as well as firm back rests.” “Bench or buckets, the second-row seats seem long-haul comfortable,” comments ConsumerGuide. The Sienna is one of the few minivans to offer true eight-passenger capacity.

In case you need more space, the second row of seats can fold away as well, allowing you to carry things as big as 4x8 sheets of plywood. Kelley Blue Book elucidates, “the Sienna's rear seat can fold flush into the floor and features a 60/40 split.” However, its removable seats are a bit heavier and more difficult to manage than in some of its rivals.

The Sienna impresses all-around interior-wise, thanks to quality fit and finish. The only noticeable complaint might be that the interior materials and appointments feel a bit less refined compared to those of its competitors, though overall quality is still commendable. “The gauges are clear,” says ConsumerGuide, “and minor controls are guess-free.” Thoughtful features abound, such as “door panels … scooped out to give exceptionally good elbow space” (Car and Driver). “The various controls are simple to use, storage space is plentiful and the seats are plush,” notes Edmunds. And the ever-critical ConsumerGuide mentions “the cabin benefits from high-grade plastics, but some of our testers say the colors and fabrics are drab.”

Perhaps making up for its lack of athletic moves, Car and Driver claims that in comparison with the others makes in this segment, “what you get instead of confident handling is a soft, quiet ride that makes the others seem a bit rude.” Edmunds also notes the “softly tuned suspension,” and ConsumerGuide finds the van to be “comfortably composed. Large humps and dips induce some body bounce, but the suspension irons out most rough pavement.”

The Sienna’s noise levels, according to ConsumerGuide, are “at least equal to the class-topping Honda and Chrysler/Dodge minivans” and that “the main noise source is moderate coarse-pavement tire thrum.”

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2010 Toyota Sienna

Safety

The 2010 Toyota Sienna sets the mind at ease in terms of safety, even though the test results are not record breaking.

One of the most crucial aspects for minivans is their safety. After all, minivans are designed to carry your most precious cargo, and thankfully, the 2010 Toyota Sienna posts favorable results in independent crash tests.

The Sienna scores four- and five-star ratings for frontal impact, five stars in side impact from the federal government, and "good" judgments from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in frontal and side impact tests. Unfortunately, the IIHS deems the Sienna "poor" in the seat-based rear impact test, which gauges the risk of whiplash injury, among other things.

Electronic stability control and anti-lock brakes are standard on every grade of the 2010 Toyota Sienna, as are front side airbags and side curtain bags covering all three seating rows.

Car and Driver finds the Sienna’s safety levels “typical for this class,” and lists the notable active safety features as “ABS with electronic brake force distribution and brake assist, as well as a stability control system incorporating traction control.” They continue: “passive features include two-stage front airbags, front seat side airbags, and curtain airbags for all three rows.”

Edmunds points out that “the XLE Limited also comes with front and rear park assist, while rear park assist is available on LE and XLE trims. If you opt for the navigation system, you'll also get a handy rearview camera.”

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2010 Toyota Sienna

Features

The 2010 Toyota Sienna’s interior has a variety of trims to suit every budget, while also offering plenty of storage options.

The 2010 Toyota Sienna makes up for dull styling with its options and features, notably an all-wheel-drive system. Other niceties include a rearview video camera, front/rear parking proximity warnings, side sunshades, laser-guided cruise control, a DVD entertainment system, satellite navigation, and a JBL surround-sound audio system (standard on the XLE Limited) that includes Bluetooth hands-free connectivity.

Edmunds hails the Sienna’s Lexus-like list of features and feels that the vehicle’s optional “telescoping steering wheel, adaptive cruise control and rear sunshades” are “features not typically seen on a minivan.” Kelley Blue Book, on the other hand, is a fan of the Sienna’s sliding side-door power windows and its split flush-folding third-row seat. In a segment where others don’t allow windows to open at all, they feel it's nice to “allow passengers to enjoy as much fresh air as they like.”

Kelley Blue Book also highlights the more vital features on the base model, which includes a V-6 engine, five-speed automatic transmission, anti-lock brakes, Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRAC), 10 cup holders, a rear defroster, side-impact and side-curtain airbags, dual sliding side doors with power windows, power door locks, illuminated remote keyless entry, a power liftgate release, AM/FM stereo with CD, tilt/telescopic steering wheel, power windows, full wheel covers, and a rear wiper. Considering the $25,000-odd price tag, owners get quite a lot of standard kit.

Some of the optional goodies include features such as the aforementioned all-wheel drive, power seats, leather interior, heated front seats, cruise control, dual power sliding side doors, a JBL audio system with 10 speakers and Bluetooth connectivity (standard on Limited), a power-folding third-row seat (Limited), four-wheel disc brakes, power lumbar support, DVD rear-seat entertainment system, and alloy wheels. The Limited trim offers Dynamic Laser Cruise Control, and Limited and XLE come with optional navigation as part of the JBL audio upgrade.

Car and Driver finds that there is a “Honda-style fold-down table with a cup holder at each corner and a large tray in the middle,” to which Toyota adds “a lidded bin and splendid surface detailing.” There are two glove boxes in the Sienna, one stacked on top of the other, but the top “box on the Toyota is sized for gloves and little more.” The conversation mirror is described by Road & Track as “a convex piece mounted in the over-head console allowing parents to keep tabs on the youngsters.”

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Styling 6
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