While not everyone wants or needs an SUV or crossover, even though the new ones offer three row seating for a family of four or more, there is a tried and true alternative, and it’s offered with AWD.
That’s exactly what Toyota offers with their Sienna AWD minivan. And as an added benefit, Sienna is now offered in hybrid form with very impressive fuel economy for a 4,725-pound vehicle.
Sienna is offered in LE, XLE, XSE AWD, Limited AWD, Woodland Edition and tested top-tier Platinum AWD.
So designed, the Sienna AWD has a certain SUV flair with its massive grille and sloping roofline.
Sienna’s interior can offer seating for eight or seven if opting for captain’s chairs in the second row. The cockpit comes with sumptuous heated/cooled leather seats, a large jet-like console with 9-inch infotainment display serving the satellite radio, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Amazon Alexa, Wi-Fi connectivity, climate selections and rearview camera with overhead revolving perimeter scan. Beneath the console is a handy 14x19-inch shelf to stow a purse or other small items.
A burly gear shift controls the CVT transmission and it’s flanked by a mode switch for Normal, Eco and Sport driving modes. There’s also an EV switch to propel the Sienna on electric power only for short distances. When selecting modes, they display on the 9-inch screen and in different color combinations. There’s also an Acoustic Vehicle alerting system to notify nearby pedestrians of an approaching hybrid vehicle.
Heated second row captain’s chairs come with a Long-Slide feature that has 25 inches of travel. They can slide backward to touch the third-row seat if more leg room is needed for extra tall passengers. And slide forward for third row access.
Sienna’s side doors slide fore/aft remotely as does the rear hatch gate that can also be opened by a wave of a foot beneath the rear bumper.
Back in the cargo area, there’s an 11-inch deep bin for grocery bags or gear and where the third-row seat folds down into it. With the third-row seats up there’s 33.5 cubic feet of cargo space, 75.2 with them folded and 101.0 with the second row flipped. It, like the entire interior, is hugely spacious and can hold a mountain bike with the front wheel removed and stacked atop the bike.
As for the powertrain, Sienna AWD Platinum comes with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder that couples to a single electric motor for FWD versions and two motors for the AWD models with one of the motors powering the rear axle. The engine is boosted via a nickel metal hydride battery pack that comes with a 10-year, 150K mile warranty. Combined with the gasoline engine, there’s 245-hp total system output that earns EPA mileage estimates of 35 city, 36-highway mpg with the CVT transmission. So powered, Sienna has a tow capacity of up to 3,500 pounds.
Driving wise, Sienna hugs the road ever so compliantly and despite its bulk, parks rather easily with a 38.3 turning radius. It rides smoothly and quietly on 18-inch Bridgestone tires.
Sienna comes standard with a host of safety features such as Toyota’s Safety Sense 2.0 pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, full-speed radar cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assist (keeps the van between the road lines), lane tracing assist, blind spot monitoring and more.
Optional items include rear seat entertainment system ($1,415); 11.8-inch video display and wireless headphones; 1500w inverter ($300); digital rearview mirror w/Homelink ($200); carpeted floor mats ($220); and delivery ($1,175) that took the base price of $50,460 to a bottom line of $53,770.
All hybrid components are covered by an 8-year/100,000-mile warranty in addition to the standard coverage.
Minivans remain the vehicle of choice for a large family and with Sienna’s AWD capability, it’s a compelling choice for year-round, inclement weather transportation.