2016 Toyota Sienna

Starting MSRP: $28,850 - $46,410

Estimated MPG: 18 city / 25 hwy

2016 Toyota Sienna Review

The 2016 Toyota Sienna continues to shine as one of the most popular minivans in the segment. After thoroughly refreshing the Sienna for the 2015 model year, Toyota fine-tuned the vehicle’s infotainment system again for the current one. It’s the kind of continuous improvement that’s necessary in what’s become a surprisingly competitive segment.

By Charles Krome
Last Updated 08/23/2016

The 2016 Sienna rides on a platform that was first introduced five years ago, but it also serves up a number of exclusives, including the only all-wheel-drive system in the segment. A V6 engine and a six-speed automatic transmission are standard on all models. Five trim levels are offered: L, LE, SE, XLE and Limited. As a result, most customers will find something to like about the Sienna.

Exterior

Exterior
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Minivan designers have been noticeably upping their games lately, which is something you’ll notice with new entries like the Chrysler Pacifica and the recently updated Kia Sedona. Still, a case can be made that it was the Sienna that got the ball rolling. Toyota’s “Swagger Wagon” strikes a relatively athletic stance, and the Sienna’s slim, multi-bar grille, along with the subtle body sculpting below its window line, are fairly sophisticated.

Also, there are some nice details depending on the specific trim selected. The Sienna SE, for example, delivers sporty enhancements like 19-inch alloy wheels, body-color side rocker panels, front and rear underbody spoilers and a matching rear spoiler that trails off the roof. There’s even a “sport” mesh grille.

Meanwhile, in premium trims, such as the Limited grade driven here, there’s a healthy dash of chrome accents, plus LED daytime running lamps, a powered rear tailgate and power-sliding rear doors. Also powered are both of the dual moonroofs, which allow occupants in all rows to enjoy the open sky.

Interior

Interior
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Our range-topping 2016 Toyota Sienna Limited had premium leather trim covering all three rows, with the driver and front passenger getting multi-stage heated seats. The driver also enjoys an eight-way power-adjustable seat. The second-row seats were lounge-style captain’s chairs that have a “long-slide” feature, which enable 23 inches of travel fore and aft. Those seats can be moved all the way forward for better cargo space or easier access to the third row, or they can be moved backward to increase legroom substantially.

The split 60/40 third row will fit smaller adults with comfort and handle most kids with ease. Moreover, each side of the third-row bench can be folded flat individually, and it’s done so that the Sienna maintains a large rear cargo well. In fact, Toyota’s minivan has more cargo space with all seats up (39.1 cubic feet), and all seats down (150 cubic feet), than any of the competition. There were some nits to pick with our test vehicle, however, as the seat leather was already beginning to wrinkle in some areas, and the stitching on the dashboard trim was noticeably off at points.

It’s also worth pointing out that tri-zone climate control, complete with rear controls, is standard for the Sienna. While our test Sienna offered seating for seven, this minivan can seat up to eight when equipped with a second-row bench seat.

Performance

Performance
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The sole powertrain for the Sienna combines a six-speed automatic transmission with a 3.5-liter V6. It’s an engine that can dish out 266 horsepower and 245 pound-feet of torque, which compares well to most rivals. The Honda Odyssey, for instance, has a similarly sized engine that makes 248 horsepower. Our Sienna Limited further shows off the segment’s only available all-wheel drive system. The added traction does have an impact on fuel economy, though.

The standard Sienna is rated at 18/25 mpg city/highway (21 mpg combined), for a middle-of-the-pack number for combined fuel efficiency. The Sienna’s EPA line with all-wheel drive is 16/23 mpg, or 19 mpg combined. We did better those expectations during more than 310 miles of real-world driving, as we saw 20.4 mpg in mixed travel. And if the summer weather meant we didn’t have much opportunity to evaluate the all-wheel-drive technology, it was nice to know it was there during a brief afternoon thundershower.

In terms of the actual driving experience, the Sienna felt a lot like, well, a minivan, with particularly loose steering. On the positive side, acceleration was stronger than expected, even with the all-wheel drive setup, and although we didn’t get a chance to test this either, Toyota claims a 3,500-pound towing maximum (when properly equipped). Nor can we forget that engineers supply a sport-tuned suspension for the Sienna SE.

Rear visibility was another challenge, but here, an array of sensors and safety measures work to minimize the difficulties.

Technology

Technology
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Modern customers demand modern infotainment, and that’s something that Toyota clearly recognizes. The standard setup for the Sienna includes the Entune Audio Multimedia Bundle with a 6.1-inch touch screen, USB port, Bluetooth connectivity and Siri Eyes Free compatibility for select iPhones, which is new for 2016. Additionally making its debut in the Sienna is a Scout GPS Link that brings a low-cost navigation alternative to the minivan segment, by leveraging an owner’s compatible smartphone.

The upscale Limited trim adopts integrated navigation, bolstered by a 7-inch touch screen, HD and satellite radio services and Toyota’s Entune App Suite. This technology, which is also supported by owners’ smartphones, enables access to a variety of mobile apps. It’s then paired with 10 JBL speakers for premium audio.

Finally, our test vehicle had two features specifically designed for families: a rear-seat DVD entertainment system with a 16.4-inch-wide display and Driver Easy Speak, allowing front-seat occupants to broadcast their voices over the rear-seat audio speakers.

Safety

Safety
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Our Sienna Limited had the full complement of available safety measures, from a multi-angle rearview camera to blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. Front and rear sonar sensors also were on board to assist with parking. All proved effective in daily operation, too.

The entry Sienna also has a standard rear camera, and all models are configured with a standard Toyota Star Safety System. For that, the automaker combines the likes of vehicle stability control, traction control and antilock brakes.

The 2016 Sienna earned a top five-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for its overall performance in crash tests.

Cost-Effectiveness

Cost-Effectiveness
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At its starting point, with an MSRP of $28,850, the 2016 Toyota Sienna is one of the most expensive minivans on the market. Its base price exceeded only by the Honda Odyssey at $29,550. Yet that’s competitive, because of Toyota’s level of standard equipment.

A possible concern for the Limited model is its starting price of $45,270. It’s not that that amount is so high, since the top-tier Sienna is competitively priced. It’s that Sienna Limited is missing some key features offered by newer rivals, and at lower pricing.

Consider: The new Chrysler Pacifica Limited, with an MSRP of $42,495, has an integrated vacuum, hands-free sliding doors and rear tailgate and a power-folding third row.

Overall

Overall
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There’s no doubt that the 2016 Toyota Sienna has lost some of its swagger in its uppermost trim. Of course, that may be inevitable, given that this generation of the Sienna is so far along in its lifecycle, and that newer, fresher models are now on sale. But things are different with the affordably priced grades. Here, where customers focus on the basics, the Sienna gets high marks for its Chrysler-topping cargo space, versatile second and third rows, and a new connected navigation feature.