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2018 Toyota Sienna: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader February 2018

The 2018 Toyota Sienna certainly isn't the newest, most recently redesigned minivan. Indeed, all of its competitors have undergone a full overhaul since the Sienna's latest generation was introduced eight model years ago. However, substantial updates and facelifts, especially in the last two model years, have helped keep the Sienna popular and relevant compared to its younger rivals. It's basically the Cher of the minivan world.

After a new engine and transmission last year upped its fuel economy and improved the Sienna's already best-in-class acceleration, 2018 sees even more vital updates (at least in the minivan world). Besides a token front-end restyle, every Sienna now comes standard with accident-avoidance tech (the only van to do so), Toyota's latest Entune touchscreen interface (bigger for 2018) and five USB ports (up from a paltry one). You can also get in-car Wi-Fi, which, in conjunction with those USB's, should keep the kids happy.

Really, the Sienna's aging tech was a main reason we previously recommended looking elsewhere, and although it still doesn't offer as many gadgets as rivals do (no vacuum is available, for instance), most trim levels are now on par with similarly priced rivals. We still think it's vital to try out all of the minivan choices, especially with so few, but know that the Sienna is still going strong despite its age.

What's New for 2018?

The Sienna gets a welcome increase in technology for 2018. Accident-avoidance tech is now standard on every trim level, which is a unique attribute among minivans. The infotainment systems were also upgraded with new touchscreen interfaces, five standard USB ports (up from one) and in-car 4G LTE Wi-Fi. Exterior styling was also tweaked up front.

What We Like

Strong and efficient V6 engine; comfortable and far-sliding second-row seats; standard accident-avoidance tech; 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

How Much?

$30,800-$48,600

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 the best in the segment, as is its resulting acceleration. An 8-speed automatic is standard.

Front-wheel-drive Siennas return an estimated 19 miles per gallon in the city, 27 mpg on the highway and 22 mpg in combined driving. All-wheel drive reduces those figures considerably to 18 mpg city/24 mpg hwy/20 mpg combined, so make sure you really need the added all-weather traction it provides.

Standard Features & Options

The 2018 Toyota Sienna comes in L, LE, SE, SE Premium, XLE, XLE Premium, Limited and Limited Premium trims.

The base Sienna L ($30,800) includes 17-inch alloy wheels, 3-zone manual climate control, automatic headlights and high beams, forward-collision warning and emergency automatic braking, lane-departure warning and steering assist, adaptive cruise control, a rearview camera, 7-passenger seating (second-row captain's chairs), cloth upholstery, a height-adjustable driver seat, a 7-in Entune touchscreen interface, smartphone-connected apps (including a streaming navigation app and Siri Eyes Free functionality), Bluetooth, five USB ports and a 4-speaker sound system with a media player interface and an auxiliary audio jack.

The LE ($33,700) takes things up a notch with 8-passenger seating, roof rails, rear privacy glass, easy-clean upholstery, dual power-sliding doors, an 8-way power driver's seat, rear-side sunshades, in-car Wi-Fi, HD Radio, satellite radio and a 6-speaker sound system. It also offers optional all-wheel drive, which adds 18-in wheels and keeps 7-passenger seating.

The sporty SE ($37,000) 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, a 4-way power passenger seat and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.

The SE Premium ($42,200) adds a sunroof, a blind spot monitoring system, rear cross-traffic alert, proximity entry and push-button start, a rear-seat entertainment system (includes a Blu-ray/DVD player and an HDMI port), an integrated navigation system and Driver Easy Speak, which broadcasts the driver's voice subtly through the speakers to those in the back rows. (There's also an SE Preferred package that adds all of this except the navigation and rear entertainment systems)

The XLE ($37,000) and the XLE Premium ($40,700) are equipped just like their SE counterparts, but they revert to the LE's styling, steering and suspension. The XLE does differ, however, with its 4-way power passenger seat, proximity entry and push-button start and power rear-quarter windows. The XLE Premium differs by having rear parking sensors. There's also an XLE Navigation package that adds a rear parking sensors, Driver Easy Speak and the integrated navigation system.

The Limited ($43,700) has all the XLE Premium's features minus the rear-seat entertainment system. It then adds unique 18-in wheels, 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 ($47,300) adds xenon headlights, automatic wipers and the rear-seat entertainment system.

The SE Preferred package adds to that trim the blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic warning systems.

Safety

The Sienna comes standard with stability control, seven airbags (including full-length side-curtain airbags), forward-collision warning and emergency automatic braking and lane-departure warning with steering assist. Blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic warning are available.

In government crash tests, the 2018 Sienna has thus far only received a 4-star frontal crash rating. However, it's hard to see it doing worse than the 2017 version's 5-star overall rating. Although the Sienna received top Good scores in tests carried out by the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 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 perfectly pleasant to drive. The SE model deserves special mention for its retuned steering and suspension, which 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.

In the base 7-passenger version, the second row consists of standard captain's chairs. 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 captain's chairs feature flip-up footrests, but the front occupants will have to slide their seats up for the footrests to extend. In any configuration, though, the second-row seats slide much further forward (good for extra-long cargo) and rearward (great for passengers to sprawl out) than those of the Odyssey and Pacifica.

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. Plus, for 2018, it gets a welcome technology update with all trim levels now coming standard with Toyota's latest 7-in touchscreen interface and five USB ports. You have to get an upper trim to get that many in a Pacifica. Now, there are a few gadgets the Sienna doesn't offer (an in-car vacuum for instance), but as such features are usually restricted to the priciest competitor trim levels, most shoppers won't even know what they're missing.

Other Cars to Consider

2018 Honda Odyssey -- The Sienna's perennial nemesis was completely redesigned for 2018. Updates include its own tech updates and a second-row that slides laterally to provide unique versatility. It's less engaging to drive than before, which gives the Sienna SE a decided advantage. Read our long-term test of the 2018 Odyssey.

2018 Chrysler Pacifica -- Chrysler's Pacifica is the new kid on the block, boasting a sharp 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. Read our long-term test of the Pacifica.

2018 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 that feels more like an SUV than a minivan. Read our long-term test of the Sedona.

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 minivans 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 counterparts.

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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.
2018 Toyota Sienna: New Car Review - Autotrader