The 2012 Toyota Sienna continues the third generation of the popular minivan, which was all-new for 2011. Available in both 7- and 8-passenger versions, the Sienna’s large cabin enables longer front-seat travel and up to 150 cu ft. of cargo space with the third-row seats folded into the floor and the second-row seats removed. The Sienna is also the only minivan available with all-wheel drive. Standard safety gear includes stability and traction control, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes and dual front, front-seat side, 3-row overhead and driver’s-knee airbags.
The 2012 model is largely unchanged from 2011 but adds a standard power front passenger seat and automatic headlamps to the XLE model.
The 2012 Sienna is a good choice for families with kids and pets or seniors with mobility issues due to its easy ingress and egress, large sliding doors and roomy, flexible seating and cargo-carrying options. See the 2012 Toyota Sienna models for sale near you
What We Like
Optional all-wheel drive; generous cargo volume; flexible seating; good ride quality
What We Don’t
Modest 4-cylinder performance; some below-par interior pieces; vague steering; run-flat tires required with AWD
Fuel Economy & Engine Specs
The base Sienna and Sienna LE are equipped with a 2.7-liter double-overhead-camshaft (DOHC) 16-valve 4-cylinder. Output is 187 horsepower, and it develops 186 lb-ft of torque on regular unleaded fuel. It’s equipped with front-wheel drive (FWD) and has an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rating of 19 miles per gallon in the city and 24 mpg on the highway with the standard 6-speed automatic transmission.
Optional on the LE and standard with the SE, XLE and Limited models is a 3.5-liter DOHC 24-valve V6 making 266 hp and 245 lb-ft of torque on regular unleaded fuel. All-wheel drive (AWD) is optional with the V6 only. FWD models are EPA-rated at 18 mpg city/25 mpg hwy, while AWD Siennas get a 17 mpg city/23 mpg hwy label. A 6-speed automatic is standard.
Standard Features & Options
The 2012 Toyota Sienna is available in the base Sienna, LE, SE, XLE and Limited trims.
Standard on the base Sienna is tri-zone air conditioning, cloth seats, remote keyless entry, automatic headlamps, dual manual sliding doors, removable second-row sliding captain’s chairs, a 4-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo, a split-and-stow third-row seat, intermittent wipers, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel, cruise control, 17-inch alloy wheels, and power windows, mirrors and door locks.
The Sienna LE gains privacy glass, removable second-row captain’s chairs, heated outside mirrors, a center console and steering-wheel audio controls. LE V6 models add power sliding doors, roof rails, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a garage-door opener, rear sunshades, SiriusXM radio, USB and iPod ports, and Bluetooth connectivity.
The sporty SE "man van" gets the V6 engine, a sport suspension, fog lamps, a sport mesh grille, aerodynamic body panels, front and rear spoilers, LED taillamps, a power lift gate, a 6-speaker audio system, faux-leather seats, a power driver’s seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and 19-in alloy wheels.
Upgrading to XLE adds tri-zone automatic A/C, leather seats, heated front seats, power rear-quarter windows, a power moonroof, a premium touchscreen audio system, a power front passenger seat, wood-grain interior trim, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, automatic headlamps and a power lift gate.
The range-topping Limited brings two-tone leather seats, dual moonroofs, 18-in alloys, a leather-and-wood steering wheel, push-button start, a power-folding third-row seat and JBL audio with a 6-disc CD changer, SiriusXM and Bluetooth connectivity.
Popular options include a dual-screen rear-seat entertainment system, navigation, rear parking assist and, on the Limited, dynamic cruise control.
Toyotas have a great reliability reputation from both word of mouth and the various quality-rating organizations. Therefore, clean, low-mileage Siennas retain their resale values and command higher used-car prices. However, because the Sienna has been one of the best-selling minivans in the U.S., there should be a good supply to choose from.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced the following recalls for the 2012 Sienna:
On Siennas originally sold or registered in states or territories with high heat and/or humidity, the front passenger airbag inflator may rupture, creating metal shards that may strike interior occupants.
The power-sliding doors may open unexpectedly while driving following an earlier unsuccessful attempt to open them. This creates an increased risk of injury to occupants in a moving vehicle.
Some Siennas have an incorrect load capacity sticker in the doorjamb. An overloaded vehicle or tire failure increases the risk of a crash.
A miscalibrated front occupant sensing system may cause the front passenger airbag to deploy incorrectly for an occupant’s size or weight or not deploy at all, increasing the risk of injury in a crash.
On some Siennas originally sold in the Gulf States region and equipped with a dealer-installed AudioVox aftermarket remote starter, a miscommunication with the van’s controller area network may result in the loss of anti-lock braking and stability-control functions.
Recall repairs are required by law, even if the vehicle is out of warranty. Your dealer can check to see if the repairs were performed and, if not, will fix the car for free.
Safety Ratings & Warranties
The 2012 Toyota Sienna received a NHTSA 4-star overall rating, including a 4-star rating for frontal impacts, a 5-star rating for side impacts and a 4-star rating for rollovers.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 2012 Sienna a Good rating for moderate-overlap front impacts, side impacts, roof strength, head-restraint and seat crash performance. It was named an IIHS 2012 Top Safety Pick.
Toyota covered the 2012 Sienna with a 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty, a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty and a 5-year/unlimited-mile corrosion-perforation warranty.
Toyota certified pre-owned (CPO) cars can’t have more than 85,000 miles on the odometer and must be 6 years old or less. Every CPO Sienna undergoes a 160-point inspection and gets a Carfax report. The Toyota CPO warranty covers the whole car bumper-to-bumper for 1 year or 12,000 miles, extends the original powertrain warranty to 7 years and 100,000 miles, and includes 1 year of roadside assistance.
Other Cars to Consider
2012 Chrysler Town & Country — All 2012 versions of Chrysler’s 7-passenger minivan get standard leather seats and rear-seat DVD entertainment. A 283-hp 3.6-liter DOHC V6 is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission that’s EPA-rated at 17 mpg city/25 mpg hwy. The Town & Country offers crisp steering and fold-into-the floor second-row seats, but third-row seat room is a bit tight. No AWD, either.
2012 Honda Odyssey — All-new for 2011, the 7-to-8-passenger Odyssey continues for 2012, offering up to 148.5 cu ft. of space, segment-topping 19 mpg city/27 mpg hwy EPA ratings with its 248-hp 3.5-liter V6, and five LATCH child-seat positions — but no all-wheel-drive option.
Toyotas generally have a solid reputation for durability and reliability, so even with the long list of safety recalls for the 2012 Sienna, the minivan should provide years of useful service once those issues are attended to. The 4-cylinder is a bit weak, and the V6 offers almost the same fuel economy, so we’d recommend at least an LE V6 to get the power-sliding doors, Bluetooth, SiriusXM and privacy glass. AWD is a plus in northern climes but not a necessity, and because the AWD rear drive axle takes up space where a spare tire would normally exist, it doesn’t have a spare and uses more expensive run-flat tires instead. Regardless of your choice, make sure the Sienna you’re looking at has had any applicable safety-recall repairs performed. Also, look for a Toyota certified pre-owned car when available.