Minivans always seem to be a talking point. We know many SUV drivers who wouldn’t be caught off guard. And we know plenty of minivan drivers who wouldn’t own anything else. Part of that is a hangover from the early days of the little pickup, being a very functional box, but really devoid of any style.
Toyota’s Sienna has always been a good product, and in the previous generation, the “Swagger Wagon” add-on campaign gave the vehicle some needed cachet. Introduced last year, the all-new Sienna takes a major step forward in style, performance and technology. Does the Sienna still have the swagger? We’ll take a look.
All aboard the high-speed train
Toyota has ambitious design goals for the new Sienna. They say the front was designed by the Shinkansen Japanese Bullet Train. We can see that – with the huge lower grille, slim and wide LED headlights and super cool LED lower fog lights, it looks imposing from the dead front.
The profile looks like a mix of SUV and Minivan, with tall, vertical sliding rear doors and a forward-swept rear pillar. Our tester was the high-value XLE model, but if you really go for the looks department, we think the sportier XSE model with 20-inch rims makes the bigger, bolder statement.
The rear delivers a clean appearance with crisp bent lines that exit from the rear wheel arches, a taillight that spans the full width and wraps around both sides, and a recessed rear panel that exudes real attitude. To finish off the look, our tester wore a rich, deep blue that the company calls Blueprint, and it shimmers with plenty of depth in the sun, looking premium and expensive. bluster? Yeah!
The interior is even bolder than the exterior. While most vans opt for the roomy big box design, the Sienna has what they call a “deck console” that separates the driver from the passenger, creating a sporty cockpit like feel for the driver. The console itself contains a traditional shifter that we love, plenty of cup holders, huge storage space, and equally huge under console storage accessible from both sides.
The gauges are clear analog designs, and being a hybrid they’ve done away with the tachometer, which is probably just fine with Sienna riders. Equally nice is a large 9-inch touchscreen with all the modern goodies including Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Amazon Alexa. Since this is a true multi-person vehicle, there are also 7 USB ports and a Wi-Fi hotspot available. Everyone on board will be happy.
To make sure those in the back are even happier, our tester had the optional rear entertainment system, with an 11.6-inch 1080p screen with remote control and two wireless headphones. Those in front have their own infotainment system with the great-sounding 12-speaker JBL audio system.
Make sure the Sienna is a great people carrier, you got 3rd Row seats that are great for kids and fold down into a deep well when not in use, creating a huge cargo hold. Bothn/a the row bench is a multi-tasker with a fold-down center seat and easily slides forward to access the third row.
They’re very comfortable, but when we found out that other versions offer captain’s chairs with swivel ottomans and can slide out 25 inches to give you incredible stretching room, we kind of wished we had that!
Super efficient transportation
Driving the Sienna is another nice surprise. Under the hood of all Siennas hides a hybrid engine comprising a 2.5-litre 4-cylinder and two electric motors for a 243-hp combo. If you opt for all-wheel drive, you get an additional electric motor.
The hybrid is an interesting choice for a minivan, only the Chrysler Pacifica offers one, but if you need a big vehicle without the big fuel bills, it’s a great choice. Our tester ran an EPA city estimate of 36 mpg, which is pretty phenomenal for such a big beast.
You pay a little for that efficiency, the 4-cylinder is a bit harsh when you lean into it, and V6 competitors like the Honda Odyssey are quicker. Leaning into this hybrid is fun though, as you have a Sport mode and get all the instant low-end punch of an electric motor.
However, this probably does not help save fuel. Of course, once the Sienna can go into EV mode, it’s silent.
That silence is really apparent on the highway, where the big pickup glides smoothly with a super smooth ride that makes it a superb vehicle for long drives. And the rear entertainment system should keep little ones happy for hours.
In town you are height or vehicle conscious, but with a nice upright seating position for good visibility you get around quite easily. A great bonus – the Sienna’s hybrid system improves ride smoothness by controlling torque to suppress pitching and dive during acceleration and deceleration. Cared for!
Safety is certainly a big deal, and Toyota isn’t missing a beat, with Safety Sense 2.0 as standard, featuring pre-collision with pedestrian detection, full-range dynamic cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assist , Lane Keeping Assist, High Beam Assist and Road Sign Assist.
Will this large box fit my budget?
Probably, because there is a wide range. You can get into a Sienna LE for $34,710 and at that price you still get two power sliding doors, remote keyless entry and push-button start, seven USB ports, a 9-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Amazon Alexa Compatible, plus Safety Sense 2.0 and Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert. Pretty much a great family vehicle! At the opposite end of the spectrum is the very outdoor Woodland Edition, starting at $45,350.
Our XLE tester was level up from the LE, starting at $39,850, and added niceties like a power sunroof, hands-free sliding doors, Softex (faux leather) seats, 2n/a row captain chairs, heated front seats and more. Our tester added the rear seat entertainment system ($1,415), a 1,500W power inverter with two 120V AC outlets ($300), and the XLE Plus package, which adds JBL audio to 12 speakers, wireless smartphone charging, and more ($2,000). Add $1,215 for the destination and we rang in at $44,780.
The Chrysler Pacifica hybrid would be a natural competitor. It’s a plug-in hybrid though, so you’ll get more range just for EVs, but you’ll have to be okay charging it. Plus, at $53,400, it’s considerably more expensive. Although they’re not hybrids, we’re big fans of the $38,775 Kia Carnivale and the $40,935 Honda Odyssey. Both great vehicles, but they’re nowhere near as fuel efficient, and fuel prices are high and seem to be rising.
If you want or need a minivan, it’s hard not to love this one. Stunning design, gorgeous interior and fuel economy that rivals economy cars, the 2022 Sienna XLE still deserves the title “Swagger Wagon”!
Ben Lewis grew up in Chicago, and after spending his formative years driving sideways in the winter – often intentionally – he moved to sunny Southern California. He now enjoys year-round sunny weather, whether driving autocross, aerobatics or learning to surf.