Minivans have gotten a bad rap for a long time, but if you haven’t looked at one recently you are in for a surprise. Toyota builds the Sienna minivan which is attractive on the outside and roomy on the inside.
Did we really say attractive?
The new Sienna isn’t your typical box on wheels that distinguished the model for so long. It has sleek styling that sets it apart from the typical family hauler crowd. What’s the biggest advantage the Sienna has over the competition? It features all-wheel drive and it’s the only minivan on the market that has it.
Over Memorial Day weekend, we tested the top-of-the-line, 2016 Toyota Sienna LTD Premium AWD.
What’s New for 2016?
The Sienna minivan remains relatively unchanged for 2016but it does get the Entune infotainment system with added smartphone-driven navigation and Siri Eyes Free.
Features & Options
The 2016 Sienna Limited Premium ($46,410) comes fully loaded with features like dual moonroof, second-row lounge seats, power-folding third-row seats, JBL audio, and 18-inch wheels. It also gets HID headlights, rain-sensing wipers, and Blu-Ray/DVD entertainment. The Limited Premium has a few additional options like paint protecting film, remote start, a floor mat package, and roof rack cross bars.
Total MSRP: $49,446 including destination.
Stepping inside the 2016 Toyota Sienna made us realize why families will love this vehicle. It’s comfortable and roomy. It’s a family room on wheels. The Limited Premium is the top model and it’s why auto journalists, like us, get them. However, it’s also the trim level families will enjoy the most because the interior is plush. The quality of materials is above average for the class and the cabin is stylish, especially with the leather seats and simulated wood cabin accents.
Are you going on a long road trip this summer? The Sienna comes with all the extras to make traveling enjoyable, and there’s abundant storage space to stow all your gear.
There’s heated seats, a heated steering wheel, and JBL 10-speaker premium audio to make the journey seem short. Do you have kids that like to be entertained? It also comes with a Dual-View Blu-Ray rear seat entertainment system. It features a split-screen monitor that allows two different types of media (for example, a movie on one side and a video game on the other) to play simultaneously. This will help eliminate those sibling arguments, making it more enjoyable for the parents.
It also comes with sliding rear shades to keep the sun off the video screens or off the faces of your passengers.
In the second row of the Limited, the bench seat is replaced by two captain’s chairs. This makes for more comfortable riding and keeps the kids separated. The chairs feature extendable footrests that have the ability to slide farther fore or aft than the competition.
You can really stretch out and get comfortable.
Reaching the third row isn’t too difficult, especially with the captains chairs. There’s abundant room in the third row too. If you have a large family, everyone will ride comfortably. If you need more storage, the third row stows away with one easy motion. With the third row upright, cargo space totals 39.1 cubic feet, growing to 117.8 cubic feet with second-row seats at their forward limit. Maximum cargo space stands at 150 cubic feet with the captains chairs removed, but it’s not an easy job.
They are quite heavy and awkward to remove.
Engine & Fuel Mileage Specs
The 2016 Toyota Sienna is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 266 horsepower. It comes mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission that drives all four wheels on this model.
EPA estimates are 16/23 city/highway mpg and 19 combined with all-wheel-drive.
The 2016 Toyota Sienna delivers the kind of performance you would expect from a family hauler with plenty of power for most driving situations. We tested the 7-passenger minivan at high-altitude so it seemed a bit under powered for pulling a full load of people up I-70, into the high country. But on the flats, this vehicle delivered smooth, ample power.
The Sienna has the ability to accelerate to highway speeds promptly, and pass or merge without delay.
In urban driving, visibility is good in all directions and it’s easy to navigate on city streets. The relatively quick steering, coupled with a smooth ride, makes the Sienna easy to maneuver in urban traffic. The standard rearview camera provides a 180-degree view, making it safer for exiting parking spaces and when backing down the driveway.
Where the Sienna excels over the competition is in the available all-wheel-drive.
We didn’t get to test the vehicle in snow or ice, but the AWD system will give families an extra feeling of safety and confidence, especially in northern climates. The 2016 Toyota Sienna is less likely to leave you stranded on the side of the road when severe weather hits.
The 2016 Toyota Sienna LTD Premium AWD is a compelling choice for families who want a comfortable, roomy family hauler. This model can be a bit pricey but it features all the things that will make the long trips go by quickly.
The availability of all-wheel-drive sets this minivan head and shoulders above the rest.
*Denis Flierl has invested over 25 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. Follow his work on Twitter: @CarReviewGuy
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