What it is: The latest all-wheel-drive variant of Toyota’s long-range Sienna minivan. Despite the relentless onslaught of crossovers, the minivan segment remains surprisingly vital for one overriding reason: when it comes to interior passenger volume, few vehicles can match the base cubic foot value per dollar of a rectangular box on wheels. Although only a few manufacturers currently play in this field, the rivalry is fierce. The Chrysler Pacifica and Honda Odyssey lead the offensive with their fresh sheetmetal and nine- and ten-speed transmissions, while the Kia Sedona offers plenty of content for its price. To keep the Sienna in the hunt, for 2017 Toyota replaced the powertrain with a new, beefier 296-hp V6 and an eight-speed automatic, both taken from the Highlander SUV. A slight facelift followed for the 2018 model shown here. The Sienna’s eight-speed transmission gives up two gears to the Honda and one to the Chrysler, but the engine delivers 16 more horsepower than the Odyssey and 9 more ponies than the Pacifica.
Why we tested it and how it worked: Minivan lovers, yes they To do exist, and at least a few Car and driver staff members proudly count themselves among their ranks – will likely recall that the Sienna placed third in a 2017 three-way comparison with the Odyssey and Pacifica. This was largely due to the dated look and feel of the interior materials and a semi-schizophrenic control layout. What we liked was the smooth power provided by the 3.5-liter V6 and the quick-shifting eight gears. So what distinguishes the 2018 Sienna tested here from the 2017 model in the comparison? In short, all-wheel drive. Of course, it also features a refreshed front fascia and side sills that are now standard, plus a host of new standard safety and tech features, including Toyota’s latest Entune 3.0 infotainment system, braking emergency response, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, etc. the complete summary of new features for 2018 here). However, we mainly wanted to take the temperature of the current AWD version, since the Sienna is the only true minivan still available with four-wheel drive.
Toyota is nothing if not consistent, and this is confirmed by the roadmap. Our 2018 Sienna AWD needed 7.0 seconds to hit 60 mph and 15.4 for the quarter mile, right on target with the numbers posted by a 2017 Sienna AWD we tested in 2016. the same goes for the 0.77 g of grip it generated on the and rou. In acceleration measurements, this Sienna roughly shares the difference between the slightly faster Odyssey and the slightly slower Pacifica. Braking to a stop from 70 mph required 183 feet, six more than the 2017 Sienna needed. Both minivans rolled on 18-inch wheels shod with 235/55R-18 Bridgestone Turanza EL400-02 all-season run-flat tires.
What we like: Topping the list is the all-weather assurance offered by the all-wheel-drive system; mount a set of quality winter tires and you have a people carrier capable of dealing with the elements. The naturally aspirated V6 is a stoic type, not whining or howling even when pushed above 6000 rpm. For 2018, Toyota has addressed the chronic shortage of USB outlets, with all trim levels now featuring two ports in the dash and another pair in the third row, with a trio of 12-volt sources added for do good measure; opt for LE or higher and the center console sports a third pair of USB ports for second-row passengers. These middle-row bucket seats are arguably the most comfortable in today’s minivan universe (the Sienna AWDs aren’t available with a second-row bench seat). And if the previous generation Siennas are any indicator, you’ll be tired of looking at it long before it’s sidelined by serious mechanical illness.
What we don’t like: Even with the recent facelift, the Sienna’s exterior design is starting to look dated, and the interior materials and layout aren’t on par with the Pacifica or Odyssey. Considering the Sienna’s base price of $37,915 for an LE AWD (all-wheel drive adds $3,260 to the price of the front-drive Sienna LE and $2,430 to the XLE) and a tested price of $42,752 for this XLE AWD with the navigation package and a handful of dealer-installed accessories, status seekers might find themselves gazing enviously at certain crossovers and three-row wagons.
Verdict: If you absolutely and unequivocally need all-wheel drive and two sliding doors, the Toyota Sienna is currently the only game in town. It’s also very good for those of us who simply recognize the incredible blend of space, utility and convenience offered by minivans.
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