The 2014 Toyota Sienna is all about refining a winning formula. Last year, Toyota dropped the van's sluggish 4-cylinder and added the highly touted Entune infotainment system to the options list. This year, updates aren't as thorough, but there are still a few changes meant to make the van just a little more appealing, such as a standard blind spot monitoring system on the Sienna SE.
With updates in mind, let's see where the Sienna stands. It has the best V6 in its class, available all-wheel drive and newly attractive technology options, along with all the nifty seating and storage features that made this van great from the get-go. And the weakest link, that 4-cylinder engine, isn't even around for us to complain about anymore.
Toyota may well have shaped the 2014 Sienna into the best minivan on the market.
What's New for 2014?
The Sienna is largely carried over for 2014, except for a newly standard blind spot monitoring system on the Sienna SE and a 3,500-lb towing capacity that's now standard across the board.
What We Like
Great acceleration from V6 engine; attractive technology features; rare all-wheel-drive option; choice of 7- or 8-passenger capacity
What We Don't
Sparse standard features on base model; Entune isn't available on fancy Limited model
The Sienna starts with front-wheel drive, though all-wheel drive can be specified on the LE, XLE and Limited. The sole engine for 2013 is a 3.5-liter V6 rated at 266 horsepower and 245 lb-ft of torque.
The Sienna's fuel economy is excellent for its segment. The Environmental Protection Agency rates front-wheel-drive models at a respectable 18 miles per gallon city/25 mpg hwy, though all-wheel-drive Sienna models drop a bit more than expected to 16 mpg city/23 mpg hwy.
Standard Features & Options
The 2014 Toyota Sienna comes in L, LE, XLE, Limited or SE trim.
The base Sienna L ($27,800) includes 17-inch alloy wheels, 3-zone manual climate control, cruise control, power accessories, 7-passenger seating and a 4-speaker (yes, four) audio system with an auxiliary audio jack but no iPod/Bluetooth connectivity. Pretty stingy for a $25,000-plus vehicle, if you ask us.
The LE ($31,200) takes things up a notch with 8-passenger seating, easy-clean upholstery, dual power sliding doors, a power lift gate, 3-zone automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror with Homelink, a 6-speaker audio system with iPod/USB and Bluetooth connectivity, a 3.5-in information display with a rearview camera and a power driver seat with adjustable lumbar support.
The XLE ($34,200) tacks on leather upholstery, a sunroof and heated front seats, as well as options such as 10-speaker premium JBL sound and a cool 16.4-in split-screen rear entertainment system.
The Limited ($41,000) reverts to 7-passenger seating, albeit with fancy loungelike recliners as second-row seats, but it offers what Toyota says is the first dual-pane sunroof in which both panes fully retract. Options on the Limited include xenon headlamps and adaptive cruise control.
Finally, the sporty SE ($34,500) sacrifices some of the XLE and the Limited models' luxuries, but it boasts an aggressive body kit, a lowered sport-tuned suspension and unique instrumentation and interior trim. For 2014, it also adds a blind spot monitoring system to its standard equipment.
Note that Entune mobile app integration is optional on the LE, XLE and SE, though oddly not on Limited.
The Sienna comes standard with stability control, seven airbags (including full-length side-curtain airbags), active front headrests and 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes.
In government crash tests, the Sienna received an overall score of four stars out of five, including four stars for frontal impacts and five stars for side impacts. The independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the Sienna its highest score of Good in all crash-test categories.
Behind the Wheel
The standard Sienna's suspension is soft and accommodating, successfully filtering out impact harshness even for rear occupants. This is a large minivan, of course, so it's not exactly nimble, but the light steering and good visibility make it more pleasant to drive than most vehicles its size.
The SE model deserves special mention for its sport-tuned suspension, which actually changes the character of the van for the better. It makes the Sienna feel more hunkered-down and in control without compromising the ride quality much, if at all. We think Toyota could simply make this the standard suspension without ruffling any feathers.
From the driver's seat, the Sienna's dashboard definitely has some verve. Look at the diagonal line that splits the center stack, for example, or the stylized gauge faces. We're not used to seeing such flourishes in a minivan. Materials quality is just okay, but at least the textures are interesting -- and that diagonal line gives the optional wood trim a very distinctive shape.
The Sienna's front seats provide satisfactory support on long trips, though they do make us miss the superior chairs in the Honda Odyssey. In the base 7-passenger version, the second row consists of standard captain's chairs that slide fore and aft. Opt for an 8-passenger Sienna and you get a special center seat in the second row that slides forward independently in case you want to keep an extra close eye on a child sitting there. The top-of-the-line recliner-style captain's chairs feature footrests that flip up, but the front occupants will have to cooperate by sliding their seats up; otherwise, the footrests won't have room to extend.
Cargo space measures 39.1 cu ft behind the third row, 87.1 cu ft with the third row folded and an even 150 cu ft if you remove the second-row seats. You can't beat a minivan for hauling stuff.
Other Cars to Consider
Honda Odyssey -- The Sienna's perennial nemesis has distinctive design elements these days, including a unique zigzag beltline. You should drive them both, though we like the Sienna's chances better than ever.
Dodge Grand Caravan -- An also-ran just a few years ago, the DGC received a thorough makeover not long ago, including a refreshed interior and a new 3.6-liter V6. We're now comfortable recommending it as a budget-priced alternative to the Japanese vans.
Nissan Quest -- Based on a funky Japanese van, the Quest is quirky, and we like that. You give up a little space and utility, but you get a luxury-grade interior and ride in return.
The SE model is our pick. It's certainly not the cheapest Sienna you can buy, but it's the best-driving minivan on the market. That's big news given the Odyssey's former dominance in this regard. If driving experience isn't among your most pressing concerns, the XLE model offers a strong value -- especially with its optional Entune infotainment system.