The 2020 Toyota Sienna is among the oldest minivans on sale today. Only the Dodge Grand Caravan, which dates back to 2008, has more gray hairs on its proverbial head.
Toyota’s done its best to keep its minivan relevant, though, and the Sienna includes the segment’s most powerful V6 engine, a class-exclusive all-wheel-drive option, and a bevy of – standard – advanced safety features. Still, there’s no denying the current Sienna feels a bit burnt next to its newer competition.
There’s nothing sexy about the Sienna, and its boxy design places function over form. Well, for the most part. While Sienna L, LE, XLE, XLE Premium, Limited, and Limited Premium models boast rather conersvative looks, the more dynamic SE and SE Premium models wear tackier styling cues such as smoked headlights, Altezza-style tail lights, a more aggressive front fascia with a mesh grille pattern, and a set of trim-specific six-spoke wheels. Further distinguishing our Salsa Red Pearl test-vehicle is the new-for-2020 Nightshade Edition package. Limited to the SE and SE Premium trims, the $700 option adds black trim to the badging, exterior mirrors, grille, door handles, rear spoiler, and wheels. Frankly, we recommend saving your money and passing on the Nightshade Edition’s strictly aesthetic kit.
The Sienna’s interior is rather utilitarian. Marked by hard plastics, large climate controls, a plethora of storage nooks, and as many as 12 cup holders, the van’s insides reflect its mission as a multi-purpose vehicle. Whereas Toyota blesses its Sienna SE and SE Premium models with more aggressive exterior styling, the two trims’ interiors largely mirror those of other Sienna models. Save for white gauges, the sportiest Siennas share the same tall dashboard, three-spoke steering wheel, and dash-mounted gear selector with its stablemates.
Specific to SE and SE Premium trims are first- and second-row seats with perforated leather trim (XLE, XLE Premium, Limited, and Limited Premium models include leather sans perforation). The heated, power-operated front chairs are long-haul comfortable, although the slightly off-center steering column makes the Sienna’s driving position a bit awkward.
With all seats in place, the Sienna affords a best-in-class 39.1 cubic feet of space. Fold the 60/40-split rear bench into its well and that figure increases to 87.1 cubes. Unlike the Chrysler Voyager and Pacifica or Dodge Grand Caravan, the Sienna’s second-row seats fail to fold into the floor. Instead, the chairs push up against the front seat backs to allow 117.8 cubic feet of space. However, manually removing the mid-row raises that sum to a class topping 150.0 cubes, or 9.5 and 9.7 cubic feet better than that of its Chrysler and Dodge competitors.
An eight-speed automatic transmission is the sole gearbox on offer, and makes the most of the V6 engine’s peaky powerband (peak power comes at 6,600 rpm) thanks to its short first gear, quick responses, and reasonably smooth shifts. In short, the front-drive Sienna never wants for power. Likewise, the van’s pleasantly firm, short-stroke brake pedal provides plenty of confidence when coming to a stop. Sienna boasts a 3.5-liter V6 under its stubby hood. With 296 horsepower, the Sienna’s engine is the most powerful in the segment.
Complementing the Sienna SE and SE Premium models’ more dynamic looks are trim-specific coil springs for the van’s twist-beam rear axle. The suspension alterations work with the trims’ 19-inch wheel and tire combination to noticeably firm up the ride and exacerbate the flimsy feel of the chassis.
All Siennas come standard with a 4.2-inch display in the gauge cluster and a dashboard-mounted 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system that’s Apple CarPlay compatible, only LE and higher trims include a WiFi hotspot. Likewise, an in-dash navigation system and an in-car microphone that allows the driver and front-passenger to speak to those in the third-row without raising their voices are available on SE and XLE models. Both features are standard on SE Premium, XLE Premium, Limited, and Limited Premium trims. All Premium models include a rear-seat entertainment system with a 16.4-inch screen.
Every Sienna comes standard with the brand’s Toyota Safety Sense-P suite of advanced safety features, which includes an automatic front braking system with pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist, automatic high-beam headlights, and adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go functionality. A blind-spot monitoring system with rear-cross-traffic alert is available on LE and SE models, and standard on higher trims. Meanwhile, the Sienna Limited Premium comes standard with a surround-view camera – a feature that’s (unfortunately) not available on any other Sienna trims.
With a base price of $31,565, the Sienna’s cost of entry is higher than other minivan. Getting into the sportier Sienna SE requires spending $37,715, while stepping up to the loaded SE Premium raises the bottom line to $43,810. The more expensive model nets standard kit such as a proximity key with push-button start, a sunroof, rear parking sensors, and a rear-seat entertainment system. Save for the latter feature, all of the SE Premium’s content is optionally available on the SE, including our tester’s $700 Midnight Edition package. Tack on $1,120 in destination, and this Sienna SE Premium totals in at $45,630, making it more expensive than a similarly equipped Chrysler Pacifica Touring L and Kia Sedona SX by $2,720 and $1,360, respectively.