Exterior:Midnight Black Metallic
Crossover SUVs are all the rage, but it’s good to remember that the trusty minivan can pretty much do the same jobs. And thanks to its boxy body style — unstylish as it may be — the minivan can do a lot of them better. A great example is the 2020 Toyota Sienna.
It features flexible seating and cargo arrangements, Apple CarPlay, and Amazon Alexa connectivity, a responsive V6 engine and, as a minivan exclusive, available all-wheel drive. On top of that, it’s sharper to drive and much easier to load with people and gear than the typical three-row SUV.
The Sienna can be equipped in either a seven- or an eight-passenger configuration, with power or manual third-row operation. The third row tumbles down into the floor, while the second-row seats can be removed to make a vast cargo area. One distinctive feature of the Sienna is a small jump seat that is located between the second-row captain’s chairs. It allows you to carry an additional passenger in a pinch. When you don’t need the middle seat, you can easily remove it and stow it away, giving second-row passengers room to stretch out.
Even though the Sienna is one of the oldest minivans on the market, it still impresses with its on-road comfort and flexible configurations. Toyota’s Safety Sense system, or TSS-P, also helps modernize the Sienna by providing front collision mitigation, lane departure warning, and other modern driver-assist features. You might like the Honda Odyssey more for its more modern interior design or the Chrysler Pacifica for its available plug-in hybrid engine option, but overall the Sienna is a solid all-around pick.
The Sienna sports a base MSRP of $31,415. That’s one of the highest starting prices in the class, and it’s about $5,000 more than some competitors’ base prices. The range-topping Sienna Limited starts at $44,310, but there are option packages and other add-ons that can push that price tag near, or even beyond, $50,000.
We sure hope Toyota is cooking something special up for its next-generation minivan because it’s certainly been a long wait. While most cars and minivans go six years between generations, the 2020 Toyota Sienna represents year nine since it was completely redesigned. Sure, there was a significant overhaul a few years ago and constant updating (including some for this year), but the competition has been completely redone, and it makes a difference. The Honda Odyssey and Chrysler Pacifica are more refined, more advanced technologically and have better safety ratings. Even the Kia Sedona, which is no spring chicken itself, is fresher in certain respects.
Now, despite being long in the tooth, the 2020 Sienna still provides plenty of distinctive elements that keep it relevant. Its second-row seat slides further than most, providing exceptional comfort for adults and teenagers. Its unique all-wheel-drive option. It’s SE trim level that is arguably the most engaging minivan to drive. In other words, don’t write it off completely, but make sure to shop around.
The Sienna is a wide van from the outside, and it features a wide, expansive dash on the inside. There are a lot of hard plastics all around, but many of those get replaced with wood and soft-touch materials as you climb the trim ladder. It looks old for the most part because the Sienna really is an old van. None of the fancy swoops and shapes from newer Toyota interiors have made it into the Sienna, and that makes it feel dated. This is only amplified by the modern Pacifica, Odyssey and even Kia Sedona interiors that we prefer over this one.
Utility for all of your passengers is about average for the segment. You get 10 cupholders with the seven-seat van and 12 with the eight-seater. Then five USB ports are made available, with at least one in every row. Some of the functionality suffers from the messy design of the center stack, such as the heated seat scroll wheels being tucked down away from view while a gaggle of buttons that all look the same sit out in the open.
Toyota’s infotainment system is a mess of a dinosaur-like interface. Thankfully Apple CarPlay is standard, but Android Auto isn’t, and all the other system’s functions are problematic. The user interface’s skin, design, and menus all feel like they’re more than a few steps behind the competition. Everything works, it just discourages actual use by generally being slow, unresponsive and displeasing to operate. If technology and infotainment are important parts of your buying decision, know that Toyota is at the back of the pack in this respect.