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2019 Toyota Sienna: New Car Review

The 2019 Toyota Sienna is the oldest minivan on the market, entering its eighth year since a complete redesign. That’s two or three years longer than normal, and all of its competitors have since been redesigned — as recently as last year in one instance.

This puts the Sienna at a disadvantage despite undergoing significant upgrades and feature additions over the years to keep it relevant. Sure, Toyota updated the styling once again last year, but compared to the stylish Chrysler Pacifica and the Kia Sedona, it’s still awfully frumpy. Tech gizmos have also been added, but you’ll still find more toys to keep the kids entertained and monitored in the new Honda Odyssey. Then there’s just the matter of the driving experience, which isn’t as refined as those newer minivans, as well as the Sienna’s underwhelming performance in new, more stringent crash tests.

That said, the Sienna should still be considered, since there are only so many competitors and it still has a lot going for it. Second-row comfort, ease-of-use, uniquely available all-wheel drive, the sharp-handling SE trim level and Toyota’s reputation for superior reliability still count for a lot. In other words, don’t write it off, but also make sure to check out the much newer kids on the block.

What’s New for 2019?

Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa smartphone integration are now available. The SE trim can also now be had with AWDSee the 2019 Toyota Sienna models for sale near you

What We Like

Strong and efficient V6 engine; comfortable and far-sliding second-row seats; standard accident-avoidance tech; rare AWD option; sharp-handling SE model

What We Don’t

Lacks some gadgets available on rival vans; sluggish throttle response in all but SE trim level; second-row seats are difficult to remove; lower safety ratings

How Much?

$31,115-$48,890

Fuel Economy

The 2019 Sienna comes standard with front-wheel drive, but AWD can be specified on all but the L trim level. 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.

FWD Siennas return an estimated 19 miles per gallon in the city, 27 mpg on the highway and 22 mpg in combined driving. AWD 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 2019 Toyota Sienna comes in eight trim levels: L, LE, SE, SE Premium, XLE, XLE Premium, Limited and Limited Premium.

The base Sienna L ($31,115) includes 17-in 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 ($33,935) 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, Apple CarPlay, HD Radio, satellite radio and a 6-speaker sound system. It also offers optional AWD, which adds 18-in wheels and keeps 7-passenger seating.

The sporty SE ($37,265) 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 ($43,360) 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 ($37,265) and the XLE Premium ($40,955) 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 seating, 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 rear parking sensors, Driver Easy Speak and the integrated navigation system.

The Limited ($44,010) 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 FWD models, the third-row seat is also power folding.

The Limited Premium ($47,530) 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 assist systems.

Safety

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

In government crash tests, the 2019 Sienna received a 5-star overall rating with 4-star frontal and 5-star side ratings. In testing by the non-profit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Sienna showed its age by delivering less-than-perfect results in new IIHS tests that crash vehicles at a small-overlap angle. It received an "Acceptable" rating for driver-side protection and a "Marginal" for passenger-side. It got the best-possible ratings for all other crash protection and prevention categories. All other minivans performed better.

Behind the Wheel

The Sienna’s standard suspension is soft and accommodating, but when paired with its light steering, it’s a little vague to drive. The SE model, by contrast, 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 many feathers. The SE also doesn’t suffer from the same unresponsive throttle pedal as the other trim levels that can make for a frustrating driving experience.

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. In any configuration, 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’s and Pacifica’s. Top trim levels even have flip-up leg rests.

In terms of design, the Sienna perhaps isn’t as welcoming as the stylish Pacifica’s or the Sedona’s. Some controls are also a little tough to reach. However, the touchscreen interface is pretty easy to use, and for 2019, there’s finally Apple CarPlay (still no Android Auto, though). Now, there are a few gadgets the Sienna doesn’t offer (an in-car vacuum for instance), but since such features are usually restricted to the priciest competitor trim levels, most shoppers won’t even know they’re missing.

Other Cars to Consider

2019 Honda Odyssey — The Sienna’s perennial nemesis was completely redesigned last year, and is therefore the more modern van. It’s less engaging to drive than before, which gives the Sienna SE a decided advantage. Read how the Sienna and Odyssey compare.

2019 Chrysler Pacifica — This boasts a sharp design, plenty of refinement and all the latest bells and whistles one can cram into a minivan, plus the latest evolution of Stow ‘n Go seating and a unique hybrid model. Read our long-term Pacifica test.

2019 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 Sedona test.

Autotrader’s Advice

Depending on your budget, the SE or the 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. Find a Toyota Sienna for sale near you

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