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2015 Toyota Sienna: First Drive Review

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author photo by Doug DeMuro September 2014

We recently spent some time behind the wheel of the updated 2015 Toyota Sienna. Although the popular minivan isn't drastically changed for the latest model year, Toyota has made a few important revisions inside and out. What's new, and how do we like the latest Sienna? We've collected our thoughts below.

Minor Changes Outside

Although Toyota's highly popular Camry sedan is getting some serious revisions for the 2015 model year, updates to the brand's Sienna minivan are a lot more subtle. On the outside, that means slimmer headlights, available LED running lights on upscale SE and Limited models, and redesigned taillight clusters. For most drivers, however, the Sienna's exterior changes won't be dramatic enough to really notice.

Bigger Changes Inside

Instead, the Sienna sees its most serious changes on the inside -- both to the minivan's dashboard and the rest of its cabin. While updates for 2015 stop short of a full redesign, it's clear that Toyota focused some serious effort on making the van's interior a nicer place to be.

To start, we think the new center control stack offers vastly improved quality compared to the outgoing Sienna. We also think that the van's controls are arranged in a much more logical fashion, which makes it easier to perform simple tasks, such as changing the climate control settings.

More importantly, we think that upscale Sienna models bring a whole new level of luxury to the minivan world, with the high-end Sienna Limited starting to feel more like a Lexus than a Toyota. That's good news for van drivers who spend big money to get a Sienna Limited (which starts around $41,000 with shipping). We think the previous Sienna's cheaper look really hurt the minivan's interior appearance. That's no longer true for 2015 -- and that means the Sienna no longer must play second fiddle to the traditionally nicer Honda Odyssey.

Speaking of the Odyssey, the Sienna has clearly been peeking at Honda's playbook in a few other places, too. Specifically, we appreciate the wide-screen DVD entertainment system with newly available Blu-ray capabilities and HDMI input, which help to make even short drives just a little bit more enjoyable for passengers in the back -- and a little more peaceful for those in the front.

In the Details

Beyond the major changes to the Sienna's revised interior, we're also impressed with a few of the van's more minor updates. For instance, the Sienna adds a new third-row-seat LATCH child-seat location, bringing its total number of child seat spots to four. There's a new passenger-side seat belt that helps enhance safety for a greater variety of physiques. The van adds a trisync climate control switch that gives the driver greater control over the climate control zones. There's also a push-button driver's-seat center armrest that makes things just a little more comfortable -- and easier -- for the van's driver. Of course, none of these changes are major, but each one gives drivers just another small reason to pick the Sienna over highly popular rivals.

Maybe the Sienna's most important new feature, however, is an available 4.2-inch thin-film-transistor (TFT) display located in the center of the minivan's gauge cluster. Standard on all Sienna models, the TFT display shows a variety of pertinent facts from audio information to navigation details. We think it greatly enhances -- and modernizes -- the look of the Sienna's interior.

Speaking of the Sienna's cutting-edge technology, one item that we think could use a little more coverage is the minivan's Safety Connect telematics system -- a feature that offers automatic collision notification for emergency responders, stolen-vehicle tracking and roadside assistance. It's a nice feature to have on a family car, especially considering that it comes with a 1-year free trial.

Add It to Your Shopping List?

We've always been impressed with Toyota's popular Sienna minivan for its roomy interior, its reliable powertrain, its reasonable pricing and its long list of equipment. Now, the 2015 Toyota Sienna is even more enticing thanks to a revised interior and a host of new features that leave us appreciating the van more than ever. We're still not sure if we'd buy the latest Sienna over the Odyssey, though. Both minivans are excellent contenders, but the updated Sienna is certainly a great choice for families interested in a high-quality people-hauler.

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Used 2014 Toyota Sienna LE
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Used 2014 Toyota Sienna LE
Used 2014 Toyota Sienna
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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2015 Toyota Sienna: First Drive Review - Autotrader