A family hauler gets a fresh powertrain.
The minivan has actually been the Rodney Dangerfield of the vehicle world for the majority of its 33-year existence. Theories are plentiful regarding why the minivan never ever gets the regard it deserves in spite of being the world’s most versatile transportation home appliance. Could it be since the “mini” appellation no longer fits, particularly for the 200-inch-long Toyota Sienna examined here? Some blame the sliding doors. Others firmly insist the beveled-shoebox shape is sexless.
In spite of fond trip-to-the-zoo memories and wondrous soccer expeditions, modern-day moms and dads and kids have the tendency to shun minivans. Sales are barely above half exactly what they were in 2005, in big part due to the seemingly inexorable increase of crossovers. Chevrolet, Ford, Hyundai, and Mazda all have actually abandoned the classification. That said, six brand names still defend their share of the minivan action, presently around 600,000 sales annually.
While Chrysler’s Pacifica is the hottest news in this category, Toyota hasn’t been twiddling its thumbs on the sidelines. The Sienna’s brand-new four-cam 3.5-liter V-6 (shown the Toyota Highlander) is equipped with both port and direct fuel injection, boosting output from 266 to a husky 296 horsepower and torque from 245 to 263 lb-ft. Variable intake and exhaust valve timing yield a 4700-rpm torque peak and a power curve that does not crescendo till 6600 rpm (on its way to the 6750-rpm redline), which is quite racy for a household hauler. The mix of Atkinson-cycle operation throughout cruising, an 11.8:1 compression ratio, and a new eight-speed wide-ratio automated transmission improves EPA mileage by 1 to 2 mpg (although the Sienna still trails the Pacifica by 4 mpg in EPA highway ratings). Keeping budget plans in mind, this engine mores than happy with regular-grade fuel, and it’s impeccably behaved whether you’re running flat out to beat the school bell or travelling to church on Sunday.
Despite bring a few hundred more pounds than the competition (attributable to the segment-exclusive all-wheel-drive option on this test vehicle), the 2017 Sienna moves to the head of the class in acceleration. The seven-second-flat run from zero to 60 mph and the 15.4 seconds and 92 mph we measured in the quarter-mile for this Sienna Limited Premium flagship are records in our minivan journal, if only by a few tenths of a 2nd. And only the Honda Odyssey matches this Toyota’s 3.8-second 30-to-50-mph death velocity. Sadly, the new Sienna falls back the Kia Sedona, the Nissan Mission, and in 2015’s Sienna in 50-to-70-mph death due to the fact that of the new automated’s reluctance to kick down expeditiously. (Pressing the well-hidden ECT PWR button, which instructs the electronically managed transmission to rev higher before shifts, might assist.).
Cornering and braking grip is core to every automobile’s ability to prevent doom– presuming the motorist has the skill to respond decisively under pressure. In this category, the enhanced Sienna performs at midpack, stopping from 70 mph in 177 feet with some fade apparent after duplicated brake use. While the 18-inch Bridgestone Turanza EL400-02 run-flat all-season tires hang on fairly well, the stability-control system intervenes to halt the cornering enjoyable at 0.77 g, well below the Chrysler Pacifica’s 0.83 g. Managing connoisseurs may do better with the Sienna SE, which has a sport suspension and 19-inch wheels and tires as standard devices.
We didn’t expect much owning satisfaction baked into the Sienna’s soul, and that’s precisely what we found. The steering wheel is a hand rest, not a communication conduit to the pavement. Except for tire sound, the ride is placid, as the Sienna simulates the Toyota Camry’s devotion to isolation.
Features and Alternatives.
Standard security helps like stability and traction control, adaptive cruise control, automated emergency situation braking, automatic headlamp high-beam control, a wide-angle backup video camera, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert are included with the top Minimal Premium trim. More advanced features such as lane-departure warning and lane-keeping help will need to wait for the fourth-generation Sienna, due next year as a 2018 model.
On-demand all-wheel drive is a confidence builder for those who contend with snow and ice, but consider carefully before inspecting that box, because it includes $1140 to the sticker and reduces the EPA integrated mileage ranking by 2 mpg.
Every minivan’s primary mission is working as the school bus/cargo hauler that suits your garage. This Sienna brings 5 in its 2 rearmost rows in large lodgings. (Other Siennas can seat as many as eight.) Entry through the big doors, past the second-row easy chair, is a snap, and the back bench is spacious enough for strapping high-schoolers. The middle seats slide fore and aft through 23 inches of travel to optimize legroom when four adults are aboard.
Toyota’s answer to Chrysler’s innovative Stow ‘n Go second-row seats is a third row that splits and drops into a flooring well with ease. The second-row thrones are easy to unlatch but heavy to get rid of in preparation for maximum cargo transporting. In that mode, the Sienna’s interior deals 150 cubic feet of area (9 more than the Pacifica) and sufficient clear flooring space to transport four-by-eight-foot sheets of building material flat with the hatch latched.
Sadly, this Sienna’s interior falls short in other locations. To counter the competitors’s surprise-and-delight functions such as vacuum and drink coolers, the Sienna provides a wide-angle mirror to monitor misdeed and a way of scolding the kids through the audio system’s rear speakers. That’s not almost enough to cope with today’s child-rearing tribulations. While the Sienna’s 14 drink holders are adequate, the number of electrical connections– 3 12-volt DC sockets, two 120-volt Air Conditioner outlets, three auxiliary jacks, two USB ports, and one SD-card slot– will not stay up to date with increasing connectivity needs.
More disappointing is the low-grade interior in this $49,049 Sienna Limited Premium flagship. The 7 pieces of wood-grain trim were obviously gathered from plastic trees, and the upholstery is leather leaning decidedly in the vinyl direction.
As always, the clever buyer has choices. Pick a sub-$ 40,000 Sienna such as the SE to take pleasure in Toyota’s well-earned reputation for security and durability without the Limited Premium’s exorbitant sticker label. Go with the Honda Odyssey or the newer Chrysler Pacifica. Or wait a few months to see what Toyota’s U.S.-based design, engineering, and producing team has contrived for the upgraded 2018 Sienna. Let’s hope it’s a top-flight minivan worthy of wholehearted admiration.