2017 Toyota Sienna Limited Premium AWD Review

Really good at almost everything. Almost.


Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief



Positives: Attractive for a rectangular-ish people hauler, huge room inside, the only minivan with available all-wheel drive, great seating for the whole crew, convenient third-row folding seats, great infotainment system.
Negatives: Suspension is overly soft, loud and thirsty V6 engine, no 2nd row storage between the captain's chairs, crappy gas mileage.
Bottom Line: For those in search of a minivan (almost always out of necessity rather than desire), the Sienna is a superb choice because it provides space, good looks, a high level of comfort in all seating positions, all-wheel drive as an option and now a V6 mill. If you have to tote around the family to every function and activity on God's green earth, the Sienna makes an excellent choice.
 View Our 2017 Toyota Sienna Overview
The Sienna it its current generation has always been the stalwart in the segment, even more than the Odyssey which has lost its way somewhat. The Sienna doesn't promise anything it doesn't deliver. Space, comfort, ease of use and the distinct bragging right of the only available all-wheel drive in the segment translates to one seriously comfy and utilitarian bread box. Though it's likely that this Sienna will see a redesign in the not-too-distant future, especially in light of the upcoming redesigned Honda Odyssey and the new Chrysler Pacifica. But even though the Sienna is in the seventh year of its third generation, it still goes toe-to-toe in against the Pacifica and crushes the Odyssey in terms of sales volume. We drove the AWD, top trim version for a week to see if we'd ever convert from our own SUV. Read on for the detailed review.
 

Driving Experience

7

 

Despite carrying a few hundred more pounds than the competition (attributable to the segment-exclusive all-wheel-drive option on this test car), the 2017 Sienna moves to the head of the class in acceleration.

Ride Quality: The soft suspension, long wheel base and the tall tire sidewalls contributes to a cushy ride that's comfortable for all occupants.

Acceleration: There's some initial deadness to the gas pedal, but then the potent V6 surges and provides strong acceleration in spite of the Sienna's mass. The event is just a bit on the noisy side for our liking. The Chrysler Pacifica's Pentastar V6 is a throatier and more prodigious mill.

Braking: The pedal is a little mushy and braking performance is average.

Steering: The Sienna's steering is both light and vague with virtually no feedback. But potential minivan buyers are more concerned about cupholders than steering precision and feedback. Aren't they?

Handling: Our tester is heavier due to the AWD option, and the soft suspension and smaller diameter wheels doesn't lend to good cornering. Opt for the SE model, which performs better.

Technology

8.8

 

It's no secret that we're not in love with Toyota's infotainment system, mostly from a visual perspective, but no one will say it doesn't work well. The added entertainment system is an absolute must for big families that want to keep the small hounds at bay.

Infotainment System: The Sienna's 7-inch touchscreen is easy to read and does a good job in bright sunlight thanks to its resolution and small partial shroud. We just wish the graphics were better. Everything is quick to respond via touch. The wide dual view entertainment screen with Blu-Ray is fantastic. You could have "home" movie nights in this thing wherever the Sienna takes you.

Controls: Superb in our book. The choice and location of the shift knob on the center stack are perfect (we don't see why more minivans don't do this. It's easier than even the Pacifica's rotary shifter) The climate controls and audio are all well situated and easy to reach. We would like slightly larger and textured volume and tuning knobs. Shiny and slippery aren't ideal when you're trying to manipulate sound.

Bluetooth Pairing: Like all Toyota's the pairing was quick and easy with no delay.

Voice Call Quality: Loud and clear with zero transmission issues.

Styling

8.4

 

No one will ever accuse a minivan of being sexy, but the Sienna looks good. It doesn't try too hard like the Honda Odyssey or the Nissan Quest, and that's a good thing. We like that it embraces its minivan-ness without reservation.

Front: Simple with just the right amount of drama. It's actually one of Toyota's best grilles and headlight matings, and the chrome is tasetfully done.

Rear: Big rear glass and well-styled wraparound taillights combine with a simple chrome bar over the license plate give it good look from the back.

Profile: Next to the Pacifica, it has the best styled profile. The proprtions are good, and we like the absence of creases and curves. Thank God there's no faux fender vent.

Cabin: It's on the plain side, but it's also not weird like a Prius or even the Corolla.

Comfort

9.8

 

The Sienna's strong suit by a mile. It has enough room for even the tallest passengers, and the third row is generous. Our version had the 2nd-row captain's chairs, making access that much easier.

Front Seats: Deep and cushy with adjustable armrests. The grey leather is a bit dull, but at least it's soft and supple.

Rear Seats: Just like the front seats with ample space. We would've liked some storage in between the seats, but that would alter the access to the third row.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): The Sienna is quiet with solid build quality. There was minimal noise only when we were working the V6 mill aggressively.

Visibility: Pretty much untrammeled all around. It's got good sightlines, and the driving position and short hood help you place it where you need it.

Climate: The climate system works well all around, and the three-zone control is fantastic.

Safety

5.7

 

The majority of minivans don't fare well in this department, with the exception of the Chrysler Pacifica and the Kia Sedona. Most suffer from poor scores in the small front overlap test. The Sienna gets mostly good marks but fails to nail any awards.

IIHS Rating: It scored "good" in all crash tests except for the front small overlap, where it attained an "acceptable". It did get good marks in the advanced crash prevention and "acceptable" for the LATCH system ease of use.We had no problem putting child car seats in.

Standard Tech: Our tester came with blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, automated emergency braking, automatic headlamp high-beam control, and a wide-angle backup camera. We would've liked a 360-degree camera.

Optional Tech: None.

Storage/Cargo

9.9

 

The Sienna nails it here, too. The cabin is cavernous, and there are plenty of stowage options for all of the family's gear.

Storage Space: In the front, there's a big storage console with a deep bottom tray that could be raised a bit, but in terms of overall space, it's excellent. The armrest is deep but has to make room for the remote control and headphones for the entertainment system. The second-row passengers have to resort to door pockets and seat back pockets because of the configuration.

Cargo Room: 39.1 cubic feet with the seats in place and, 150 cubic feet with the seats folded flat. Pretty much the most capacious in the segment. It's a smidge bigger than the Odyssey and the Pacifica and dwarfs the Nissan Quest's paltry 108.4. With the third row sent forward via the Sienna's excellent and easy One-Motion system, the deep well for groceries and gear is superb.

Fuel Economy

5.6

 

Don't look for any minivan to get stellar gas mileage, except for the Pacifica Hybrid. Their size and weight contribute to generally mediocre numbers. Ours had the all-wheel drive system, which hampers mileage.

Observed: 15.8 mpg.

Distance Driven: 221 miles.

Driving Factors: We drove in combined local and highway situations, rarely drove it sport mode and still got crappy numbers.

Audio

8.6

 

The premium audio system in our top trim Sienna was quite good with its ten speakers and subwoofer. In a minivan, it's one of the best. The sound was crisp, loud and full with no distortion.



Final Thoughts

Minivans certainly have their limitations in terms of gas mileage, driving dynamics and styling, but no one really buys them because of that. They're meant to be used and abused by families in need of people and gear hauling and ease of ingress/egress. That's what the Sienna does in spades. The fact that it's still selling at the top of its segment after seven years of this generation is a testament to its greatness. We'd like to see how it does against the new Odyssey when it comes out later this year. Until then, potential buyers should look at the Sienna very seriously to suit their families' burgeoning needs.
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