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2015 Toyota Sienna: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader December 2014

The 2015 Toyota Sienna is all about refining a winning formula. Last year, the van boasted a few minor updates, such as a new blind spot monitoring system and an increased towing capacity. This year, changes are more thorough. In addition to a revised exterior, the Sienna boasts a new suspension and some much-needed interior revisions that offer a better design and improved materials.

With updates in mind, let's see where the Sienna stands. It has the best V6 engine in its class, available all-wheel drive and attractive technology options along with all the nifty seating and storage features that made this van great from the get-go. The weakest link -- last year's mediocre interior -- is no longer here for us to complain about. Indeed, Toyota just might have shaped the 2015 Sienna into the best minivan on the market.

What's New for 2015?

The Sienna offers several major changes for 2015, including exterior updates, suspension revisions for a better ride, and interior revisions that change the cabin's look and improve its quality.

What We Like

Great acceleration from V6 engine; attractive technology features; nice new interior; rare all-wheel-drive option; choice of 7- or 8-passenger capacity

What We Don't

Sparse standard features on base model

How Much?

$29,500-$47,000

Fuel Economy

The Sienna starts with front-wheel drive (FWD), though all-wheel drive (AWD) 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. FWD models are rated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) at a respectable 18 miles per gallon in the city and 25 mpg on the highway, though AWD Sienna models drop a bit more than expected to 16 mpg city/23 mpg hwy.

Standard Features & Options

The 2015 Toyota Sienna is available in either L, LE, SE, XLE and Limited trims.

The base L ($29,500) includes 17-inch alloy wheels, 3-zone manual climate control, cruise control, automatic headlights, power accessories, 7-passenger seating, a 6.1-in center touchscreen with Toyota's Entune infotainment system, Bluetooth and a USB port.

The LE ($32,100) takes things up a notch with 8-passenger seating, easy-clean upholstery, dual power sliding doors, a power driver's seat, a 7-in touchscreen, HD radio and satellite radio. It also offers optional all-wheel drive.

The sporty SE ($35,900) adds more aggressive styling, improved suspension for better handling, 19-in alloy wheels, leather upholstery, a unique front fascia, improved suspension tuning and a power lift gate. SE models also include heated front seats.

The XLE ($36,000) is equipped just like the SE -- though it features the "nonsporty" styling and suspension from the LE model.

The Limited ($42,500) adds a power passenger seat, LED running lights, front and rear sunroofs, a heated steering wheel, upgraded leather upholstery, a power-folding third-row seat, a navigation system, a JBL surround sound audio system and second-row captain's chairs with extendable footrests. That last feature means that the Limited is only available with 7-passenger seating.

As for options, the Sienna has plenty: In addition to features such as adaptive cruise control and forward-collision warning, base- and midlevel Sienna models offer many optional features that are standard on higher trim levels.

Safety

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. Options include forward-collision warning, a blind spot monitoring system and adaptive cruise control. In government crash tests, the Sienna received an overall 4-star rating, including four stars for frontal impacts and five stars for side impacts.

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, 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, in our opinion, 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.

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. If you opt for an 8-passenger Sienna, you'll get a special center seat in the second row that slides forward independently -- just in case you want to keep a 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.

Other Cars to Consider

Honda Odyssey -- The Sienna's perennial nemesis has some distinctive design elements these days, including a unique zigzag belt line. You should drive both vans -- though we like the Sienna's chances more than ever.

Dodge Grand Caravan -- The Grand Caravan 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.

Used Toyota Sienna -- Believe it or not, one of the best alternatives to the Sienna might just be a used version of itself. Last year's models offer many of the same features, but they're probably available with great deals now that the updated 2015 Sienna is reaching dealers.

AutoTrader's Advice

The SE model is our pick. It's certainly not the cheapest Sienna you can buy, but we think 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 Entune infotainment system.

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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: New Car Review - Autotrader