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2016 Toyota Sienna: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader January 2016

The 2016 Toyota Sienna is all about refining a winning formula. Last year, the van offered thorough changes in the form of revised exterior styling, new suspension and some much-needed interior revisions that offer a better design and improved materials. This year, there's new technology -- specifically the Siri Eyes Free system, which is now standard on all models.

With those updates in mind, let's see where the Sienna stands. It has the best V6 in its class, available all-wheel drive (AWD) and attractive technology options -- along with all the nifty seating and storage features that made this van great from the get-go. Although the Sienna is now facing tough competition from both Honda and Kia, Toyota has clearly shaped the latest Sienna into one of the best minivans on the market.

What's New for 2016?

The Sienna's sole change for 2016 is the addition of Siri Eyes Free functionality, which is now standard on all models.

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; not much else

How Much?

$29,800-$46,300

Fuel Economy

The Sienna starts with front-wheel drive (FWD), though AWD can be specified on the LE, XLE and Limited. The sole engine 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 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 2016 Toyota Sienna comes in L, LE, SE, SE Premium, XLE, XLE Premium and Limited Premium trims.

The base Sienna L ($29,800) 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, Siri Eyes Free functionality, Bluetooth and a USB port for music.

The LE ($32,600) 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 ($36,100) adds more aggressive styling, an 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 SE Premium ($40,900) adds a host of desirable options, such as a rear-seat entertainment system, keyless access with push-button starting, a navigation system, a power sunroof, a blind spot monitoring system, rear cross-traffic alert and Entune smartphone-app integration.

The XLE ($36,300) is equipped just like the SE, though it features nonsporty styling and suspension from the LE model. Likewise, the XLE Premium ($39,600) is equipped just like the SE Premium but without the styling add-ons.

The Limited Premium ($46,200) adds a power passenger seat, automatic high beams, automatic wipers, xenon headlights, 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 the Limited is only available with 7-passenger seating.

As for options, the Sienna has plenty. In addition to items 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, rear cross-traffic alert, automatic high beams and adaptive cruise control.

In government crash tests, the Sienna received a perfect 5-star overall score, including four stars for frontal impacts and five stars for side impacts. Although the Sienna fared well in tests carried out by the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, it didn't quite earn the firm's Top Safety Pick score after earning only an Acceptable rating in the challenging small front-overlap crash test.

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 actually changes the character of the van for the better in our opinion. 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. 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.

Other Cars to Consider

2016 Honda Odyssey -- The Sienna's perennial nemesis has some 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.

2016 Dodge Grand Caravan -- An also-ran just a few years ago, 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.

2016 Kia Sedona -- The handsome new Kia Sedona is a strong competitor to the Sienna, offering lots of equipment, a roomy interior, a strong powertrain and a wide range of safety features. In fact, it just might be better than the Sienna.

Autotrader's Advice

The SE Premium 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 Premium 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.
2016 Toyota Sienna: New Car Review - Autotrader