2016 Toyota Sienna Introduction

Toyota Sienna is roomy and handsome, one of few minivans remaining on the American market, and the only one that can be equipped with all-wheel drive.

Last redesigned for 2010, the Sienna got a freshening for the 2015 model year. Little has changed for 2016, except that the Entune infotainment system has added smartphone-driven navigation and Siri EyesFree.

Though scorned for years by critics as drab suburbanite transport, the minivan is the ultimate family vehicle. When weighing a purchase, all considerations typically fall by the wayside, except for one: will it convey seven or eight passengers safely and comfortably?

Seating seven or eight, depending on second-row seating, Toyota’s minivan scores highly on both counts. Gas mileage is about average. Handling ranks above average for the minivan class, and you get Toyota’s long-standing reputation for reliability.

All Siennas hold a 3.5-liter V6 that makes 266 horsepower, coupled to a 6-speed automatic. Performance is brisk, though Honda’s Odyssey handles with a bit more crispness. Steering on the modestly sportier SE version offers slightly more direct feel.

The Sienna’s well-organized cabin has a bit more flair than some minivans. Front seats provide an almost majestic seating position. In the second row, even the basic bench is comfortable, including substantial leg and head space. The bench can be moved fore/aft to reapportion leg space.

Separate seats may be substituted for the bench, dropping passenger capacity to seven. Top-rung Limited models can even have airline-type reclining buckets. Second-row seats may be removed, but they don’t fold into the floor as in Chrysler/Dodge minivans. With the third-row seat folded, cargo space totals 87.1 cubic feet.

Its low load-in height and big cargo capacity makes the Sienna a great vehicle for the family dog and for hauling lots of stuff.

Siennas can be equipped with modern safety technology, though many features are optional. Forward-collision warning and adaptive cruise control are available on upper trim levels. Parking sensors are standard on the Limited. Blind-spot monitoring with cross-traffic alert is standard on the XLE and Limited, and available for the SE. Toyota has increased the number of LATCH anchor points from three to four.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives Sienna a five-star overall rating and side-impact score, with four-star for frontal and rollover incidents. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave Toyota’s minivan only an Acceptable rating on the rigorous small-overlap test, but Good in other testing.

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