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2017 Toyota Sienna: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader February 2017

It's been quite a long time since the 2017 Toyota Sienna was completely redesigned, but despite graying in a few areas, it remains a must-drive for any minivan shopper. This is largely because of the updates Toyota has made over the years, including those for 2017: a new V6 engine and an 8-speed automatic transmission that together achieve best-in-class power and acceleration, along with improved fuel economy that matches the Sienna's competition

Otherwise, its comfortable, well-made interior continues to impress, with special kudos going to a second-row seat that slides further than those of its competitors. Sure, it's difficult to remove, but there's a good chance you won't need to given how far forward it can be moved. We also like how the Sienna drives, specifically its sharper SE trim levels, which boast steering and suspension tuning far more in keeping with a car (they make transitioning to a minivan a little less difficult).

Of course, since it is getting on in years, the Sienna isn't available with some higher-end technology and convenience features you can find on the Honda Odyssey and the new Chrysler Pacifica. You may also find that the Kia Sedona provides much of the same attributes as the Toyota but at a lower price. So there is certainly some cross-shopping to be done, but don't skip out on the Sienna just because it isn't the newest choice out there.

What's New for 2017?

Everything you see is the same for 2017, but under the Sienna's hood reside a new V6 engine and 8-speed automatic transmission that boost performance and fuel economy.

What We Like

Strong and efficient V6 engine; comfortable and far-sliding second-row seats; rare all-wheel-drive option; choice of 7- or 8-passenger capacity

What We Don't

Lacks some gadgets available on rival vans; second-row seats are difficult to remove; only one USB port

How Much?

$29,800-$46,300

Fuel Economy

The Sienna comes standard with front-wheel drive, but all-wheel drive can be specified on all but the L and SE trim levels. The sole engine choice is a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 296 horsepower and 263 lb-ft of torque -- that's good for best in the segment, as is its resulting acceleration.

Its new 8-speed automatic transmission increases fuel economy for 2017, but only so much that it ties the Odyssey and Pacifica for segment best. Front-wheel-drive Siennas return an estimated 19 miles per gallon in the city and 27 mpg on the highway. All-wheel drive reduces those figures considerably to 18 mpg city/24 mpg hwy, so make sure you really need the added all-weather traction it provides.

Standard Features & Options

The 2017 Toyota Sienna comes in L, LE, SE, SE Premium, XLE, XLE Premium, Limited and Limited Premium trims.

The base Sienna L ($29,800) includes 17-inch alloy wheels, 3-zone manual climate control, automatic headlights, a rearview camera, 7-passenger seating, a 6.1-in center touchscreen with Toyota's Entune infotainment system, Siri Eyes Free functionality, Bluetooth, one USB port and a 4-speaker sound system.

The LE ($32,500) takes things up a notch with 8-passenger seating, roof rails, rear privacy glass, easy-clean upholstery, dual power-sliding doors, a power driver's seat, rear side sunshades, a 7-in touchscreen, HD Radio, satellite radio and a 6-speaker sound system. It also offers optional all-wheel drive.

The sporty SE ($36,100) adds more aggressive styling, an improved suspension for better handling, more responsive steering, 19-in alloy wheels, unique styling elements, a power lift gate, leather upholstery, heated front seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.

The SE Premium ($40,800) adds a host of desirable options, such as a rear-seat entertainment system (includes a Blu-ray/DVD player and an HDMI port), keyless access with push-button starting, a navigation system, a sunroof, a blind spot monitoring system, rear cross-traffic alert and Entune smartphone app integration. Also included is Driver Easy Speak, which broadcasts the driver's voice subtly through the speakers to those in the back rows.

The XLE ($36,300) and the XLE Premium ($39,600) are equipped just like their SE counterparts, but they revert to the LE's styling, steering and suspension. The LE does differ, however, with a 4-way power passenger seat, keyless access with push-button start and power rear quarter windows. The XLE Premium differs by having rear parking sensors.

The Limited ($42,800) has all the XLE Premium's features minus the rear-seat entertainment system but plus unique 18-in wheels, LED running/accent lights, parking sensors, power-folding and auto-dimming mirrors, front and rear sunroofs, second-row captain's chairs (with recliner-style pop-up footrests and a sliding console), a heated steering wheel, upgraded leather upholstery, driver memory settings and a 10-speaker JBL sound system. On front-wheel-drive models, the third-row seat is also power-folding.

The Limited Premium ($46,200) adds xenon headlights, automatic wipers, automatic high beams and the rear-seat entertainment system.

Available only on the Limited trims is the Advanced Technology package, which adds adaptive cruise control and forward collision warning.

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, as it received only an Acceptable rating in the challenging small-overlap front 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 the good visibility make it more pleasant to drive than most vehicles its size.

The SE model deserves special mention for its sportier suspension tuning, 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. In any configuration, though, the second-row seats slide much further forward (good of extra-long cargo) and rearward (great for passengers to sprawl out) than its competitors do.

In terms of quality and design, the Sienna's refresh a few years ago brought with it a far superior cabin. Controls are easier to reach and use, and the materials are just as good as anything else in the segment. Unfortunately, you can't get certain features such as multiple USB ports, on-board Wi-Fi or a built-in vacuum cleaner -- items we've come to appreciate in rival vans. That's a shame, but since those features are found only on upper trim levels, the volume-selling midgrade Sienna models will actually be comparably equipped.

Other Cars to Consider

2017 Honda Odyssey -- The Sienna's perennial nemesis is a little more versatile and a little sharper to drive (well, except the Sienna SE), while boasting a few additional features on upper trim levels. 

2017 Chrysler Pacifica -- Chrysler's Pacifica is the new kid on the block, boasting a sharp new design, plenty of refinement and all the latest bells and whistles one can cram into a minivan, the latest evolution of Stow 'n Go seating and a unique hybrid model.

2017 Kia Sedona -- The handsome Kia Sedona is a strong competitor to the Sienna, offering lots of equipment, a comparably comfortable second-row, a wide range of safety features and a front interior design feels more like an SUV than a minivan. In fact, it just might be better than the Sienna.

Autotrader's Advice

Depending on your budget, the SE or SE Premium models would be our pick. They're certainly not the cheapest Siennas you can buy, but we think they're the best-driving minivan on the market. We appreciate their more confidence-inspiring steering and controlled suspension. They're also available with most of the same equipment as their LE and XLE comparables.

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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.
2017 Toyota Sienna: New Car Review - Autotrader