2017 Toyota Sienna Review

Consumer Reviews
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2018
The Car Connection
2018
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Aaron Cole Aaron Cole Managing Editor
June 14, 2017

The 2017 Toyota Sienna is now more powerful, but its real strength is its capability and versatility.

Minivan drivers are some of the most fiercely loyal owners on the planet—just ask one.

It takes some coaxing (or capitulation) to get them inside, but once they're in, they usually stay there. They're ultimate family vehicles: vans are robust machines built for car seats, plenty of flailing legs, ground-in cereal in the seats, 50 pounds of requisite cargo per kid, and serve as a de facto arena for slap-boxing fights on long road trips.

We give the Sienna a 6.3 out of 10 on our overall scale thanks to its comfort and available features. Great safety scores are holding it back from some of its competition, and the Sienna may not appear on any runways during fashion week anytime soon. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

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Styling and performance

The Sienna keeps its formula the same for 2017: the inside matters most. The same two-box shape appears for 2017, and an available appearance package for SE models slightly shakes things up for the minivan with rocker panels and big wheels.

Inside, the Sienna is smartly styled with big readable gauges and climate and audio controls easily reachable by passengers.

The biggest change for 2017 is under the Sienna's hood. Toyota added direct injection to its 3.5-liter V-6 and an 8-speed automatic that adds 30 more horsepower (for a total of 296 hp) and increased fuel economy. The Sienna manages up to 22 mpg combined in front-drive configuration, 20 mpg combined with all-wheel drive.

Performance in minivans is (rightly) measured in terms of safety and maneuverability, which the Sienna manages well, but it still can't overcome physics. Its handling isn't as crisp as a sedan, which is expected considering its size and weight.

Comfort, safety, and features

That size and weight has its advantages: The Sienna is exceptionally spacious and comfortable inside. Adults won't have a problem fitting into—or even getting into—the back seats, and the van's configuration makes it equally versatile for school runs or home-improvement store runs.

Second-row bench seats are standard on most models, but captain's chairs are available (and standard on all-wheel-drive versions) including downright luxurious versions for Limited Premium models. Unlike some of its competitors, the Sienna's second-row seats don't completely fold flat into the floor.

The Sienna boasts up to 150 cubic feet of cargo room with second- and third-row seats removed, 37.1 cubic feet with all rows of seats upright.

Both major U.S. safety rating agencies give the Sienna good marks, although they're not the top of their class. The feds give it a five-star overall score, with four stars for rollover and front crash protection. The IIHS gives the Sienna mostly "Good" scores, save an "Acceptable" mark in its front small-overlap crash test.

Base versions of the van come with many features important to families, including a 6.1-inch touchscreen for infotainment, rearview camera, and Bluetooth connectivity. Add-ons include a bigger touchscreen, rear-seat entertainment system, power sliding doors, dual moonroof, a driver's voice projection system for back-seat passengers, navigation, and an upgraded stereo.

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2017 Toyota Sienna

Styling

The Sienna is a van with a plan: Get inside, the view is better in there.

Two years removed from a styling update and the Sienna still won't convince others that it's anything other than a minivan. It sports a two-box shape that makes few concessions to style—exactly like a minivan should.

The SE trim is the sportiest-looking van of the Sienna lineup, with bigger wheels and side rocker panels, but the overall shape remains the same.

Our rating is based on more common LE models, which are best experienced from the inside out. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The Sienna's interior splits driver and passenger with a wide, sweeping dash that keeps vital controls on the driver's side; climate and audio functions are the passenger's purview. The setup underscores the Sienna's vast interior space, up to 150 cubic feet with the seats removed.

The center dash holds larger screens—a 6.1-inch touchscreen is standard—and the instrument cluster is easy to read. Lower trims get a 3.5-inch black-and-white LCD driver information screen between the gauges; SE, XLE, and Limited vans get an upgraded 4.2-inch color readout.

In front, LE, XLE, and Limited models get a new grille design, a finned affair that bridges the gap between new LED headlights for SE and Limited models. All models but the SE get new taillights with flowing interior elements, while the SE retains its clear lenses.

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2017 Toyota Sienna

Performance

Now with 30 more horsepower, the Sienna is a safe performer for a minivan.

For 2017, Toyota uprated the Sienna's performance by 30 horsepower—up to 296 from 266 hp—by adding direct injection to its 3.5-liter V-6 and an 8-speed automatic transmission.

Minivans aren't supposed to be speed machines, rather their performance is rated on whether it makes the vehicle safer: Is it quick enough to get up to highway speeds? Nimble enough to steer away from accidents? Can it stop fast enough?

In those respects, the Sienna has a better-than-average engine, but its tall center of gravity isn't helping handling and thus it earns an average score on our performance index. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

On the road, the V-6 has plenty of power to haul the kids and still get out of traffic. Zero to 60 mph times likely won't matter for a minivan, but it is likely around seven seconds, which is quick by any standard. The 8-speed automatic provides smooth, almost imperceptible shifts, but it can be a little slow to downshift to provide the response you need to pass that dawdling driver in another minivan who can't seem to pay attention to the road.

The latest Sienna carries over a straightforward MacPherson front strut and independent rear suspension, although subtle tuning changes as well as new welds in the cowl area (said to increase torsional rigidity) improve ride and refinement, as well as handling at the limit. The Sienna has smooth ride motions and quick steering, but physics wins in the end: it's still heavy and a little sloppy.

The SE edition gets tighter suspension tuning, big 19-inch wheels, and a lower body; it's a gamble that may not register with the average minivan buyer, especially as it's a subtle difference from the feel of the XLE or Limited.

The Sienna is the only minivan with available all-wheel drive on LE, XLE, and Limited models.

When configured with a tow prep package, the Sienna is rated to drag up to 3,500 pounds.

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2017 Toyota Sienna

Comfort & Quality

Fit for cargo or a crowd, versatility is what the Sienna does best.

The Toyota Sienna is one of the biggest minivans available today with plenty of comfortable seats and space for passengers, although its seating system leaves it a little shy in ultimate cargo flexibility.

The Sienna boasts 119.3 inches between the wheels and 78.2 inches between its track. It's more than 200 inches long, which means that total interior volume measures 164.4 cubic feet. That's big.

The Sienna is a bona fide eight-seater, with enough space for at least five seats and a configurable cabin that has a fold-away third row, and second row seat (or seats) that can be moved out of the way (but not stowed altogether like in Chrysler vans).

We give it a near-perfect score on our comfort scale thanks to that space, seating, and versatility. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Comfortable and supportive seats are fitted for front passengers in the Sienna, and most versions come with power controls. Those front seats are surrounded by a newly contoured dash—updated for the 2015 model year— puts the climate controls nearly 3 inches closer to the driver. It has bigger knobs and buttons, too, and there's a new configurable display set between the Sienna's gauges to display ancillary information.

The Sienna also sports plenty of storage for small items, especially in its twin glove boxes, deep center console, map and side pockets. The van also has an available cargo organizers, which is a smart feature for busy families.

A bench is standard in most Sienna vans, and can slide to expand third-row passenger or cargo space as needed. It also features a removable section that can be stowed away in the cargo area to make way for a cupholder and a tray—or enough room to access the third row. The second-row bench can be swapped for captain's chairs (standard on all-wheel-drive models), or on the front-drive Limited model, lounge-style seats that recline like first-class airline chairs, down to the leg-cushion extenders and footrests.

It's possible to remove the second-row seats, but they don't completely disappear into the floor—a nifty trick formerly available on the Nissan Quest, and still offered in the Chrysler Pacifica and Dodge Grand Caravan.

Adults can fit into the third row of the Sienna, and they're not especially hard to reach with some dignity intact. With the second-row seats pushed far forward, the Sienna has 117.8 cubic feet of cargo room; with the second row completely removed it can swallow 150 cubes of gear. Even behind the upright third-row seats, the Sienna still has 39.1 cubic feet of space, and can carry a 4-by-8 sheet of plywood.

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2017 Toyota Sienna

Safety

Good safety scores and available features make the Sienna a safe pick for families.

The 2017 Toyota Sienna is a solid pick for minivan families that prioritize safety and advanced features can be fitted to top models to bring it in line with some competitors.

The Sienna earns mostly good safety scores from the IIHS, including "Good" scores on all crash tests except for an "Acceptable" rating on the agency's small-overlap front crash test. Federal testers gave it a five-star overall score, but gave the van four-star scores for rollover and front-crash safety.

Based on those scores the Sienna earns a 6 out of 10 rating on our safety scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

All Sienna minivans come with side curtain airbags that offer protection for all three rows of seating, as well as a driver-side knee airbag. In 2015, a front-passenger seat cushion airbag was added that brings the inflatable total to eight. A forward-collision warning system with automatic emergency braking that preps the car for an imminent accident is offered on higher-level trims, as is adaptive cruise control.

All models have a rearview camera, while front and rear parking sensors are standard on Limited models. Blind-spot monitors with rear cross-traffic alert are standard on SE Premium, XLE, and Limited models.

Toyota has also added another LATCH connector location for child and booster seats—adding up to a total of four positions now in the Sienna.

Outward vision is excellent in the Sienna, and its upgraded rearview camera offers a 180-degree view.

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2017 Toyota Sienna

Features

Most Sienna vans are equipped with family-friendly features; upper trims add entertainment and accessibility options.

The 2017 Toyota Sienna is a well-equipped minivan—with an ace up its sleeve.

It's offered in five trims: L, LE, SE, XLE, and Limited trims, with Premium editions of the last three trims. Base versions get 17-inch wheels, three-zone climate control, rearview camera, seven-passenger seating, 3.5-inch driver information display, and a 6.1-inch touchscreen for its infotainment with Bluetooth connectivity.

It's good base equipment, but the Sienna's still the only minivan with available all-wheel drive in LE, XLE, and Limited trims. 

That may be useful, but we think far more families will make better use of the van's good equipment, good base infotainment, and optional extras. It earns an 8 out of 10 on our features scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The Sienna—like most minivans these days—doesn't exactly come cheaply. Base versions start at just over $30,000 after destination, and can reach up to $50,000 in Limited Premium trim with all-wheel drive.

Dial the features down and there's still value to be found across the spectrum. Just one step above base, LE models get 18-inch wheels (when equipped with all-wheel drive), power sliding doors, power adjustable front seats, eight-passenger seating (front-wheel drive only), and a 7.0-inch touchscreen for its infotainment.

SE vans boast big 19-inch wheels, a sport mesh front grille, LED taillights, fog lights, "smoked" exterior accents, leather seating surfaces, heated front seats, sport instrument cluster, and a 4.2-inch driver information display. (We think these vans are the automaker's attempt at assuaging football dads into showing up to games without shame or blame.) SE Premium vans add a 16.4-inch rear entertainment system with Blu-ray player, keyless ignition, and a Driver Easy Speak system that amplifies the driver's voice to rear-seat passengers.

Stepping up into XLE vans ditch the bigger wheels in favor of 17-inchers (18-inchers on all-wheel-drive versions), wood grain accents, a leather-trimmed steering wheel, moonroof, and keyless ignition. XLE Premium models add the Blu-ray player and Driver Easy Speak system. XLE models with all-wheel drive add second-row captains' chairs, while front-drive models are configured for eight passengers.

Top-of-the-line Limited vans add navigation, an upgraded 10-speaker stereo, 18-inch wheels, chrome exterior accents, and a dual moonroof. Limited Premium models add the Blu-ray player, and rain-sensing windshield wipers. Adaptive cruise control and forward-collision warning systems are available on Limited vans.

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2017 Toyota Sienna

Fuel Economy

The 2017 Toyota Sienna's increased horsepower won't chip away at solid fuel economy numbers.

The 2017 Toyota Sienna may be relatively aged compared to other vans, but it still manages respectable fuel economy numbers thanks to the addition this year of direct injection to its 3.5-liter V-6 and an 8-speed automatic transmission.

Base, front-drive versions of the Sienna manage 19 mpg city, 27 highway, 22 combined, according to the EPA.

As such, it earns a 6 out of 10 on our fuel economy scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Adding all-wheel drive drops those numbers accordingly, down to 18/24/20 mpg. That's a stiff penalty for a feature we're not sure many drivers will use—let alone with proper tires.

Even still, the Sienna manages good fuel economy compared to the new Chrysler Pacifica's 18/28/22 mpg and Dodge Grand Caravan's 17/25/20 mpg.

Last year's Honda Odyssey was rated at 19/28/22 mpg, slightly behind the Nissan Quest's 20/27/23 mpg.

Toyota still has no plans to add a hybrid system to its minivan powertrain.

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6.3
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 4
Performance 5
Comfort & Quality 9
Safety 6
Features 8
Fuel Economy 6
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