2020 Toyota Sienna SE FWD Review: SoCal Cruise Done Right

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It’s still a minivan, but the 2020 Toyota Sienna looks a bit special with the SE version.
[Photos: TFLcar]

Smart utility in the 2020 Toyota Sienna SE FWD

This isn’t the first time Toyota has given me a Sienna to test, but it’s the first non-all-wheel-drive version I’ve tested. In some ways it’s a better driver – as long as you don’t live in snowy country. The SE package makes this minivan a bit sportier with a tighter feel and (somewhat) performance-oriented rubber.

The Sienna near a converted Ford van. It wasn’t much bigger, but it was a convertible, because SoCal.

For a large pickup truck, it handles well.

Power is routed to the front wheels via a 3.5-liter V6 developing 296 horsepower and 263 lb-ft of torque. It’s best in class and there’s an option for all-wheel drive, which the competition doesn’t offer. The whole thing is hooked up to a fairly smooth eight-speed automatic transmission.

It moves quickly, often leaving an inch of rubber when you’re aggressive from a standstill. Passing power is quite good, but it takes a moment for the transmission to engage when significant power is needed. The ride is quite good for a minibus. Unfortunately, the low-profile tires make a bit of noise and aren’t as forgiving as other offerings. Luckily, those same tires provide good grip and help with cornering.

It’s (for a minivan) quite athletic thanks to the SE trim upgrades. “Sporty” coil springs and “sporty tuned” electric power steering (EPS) make the SE version of the Sienna dashing. For such a cavernous vehicle, it handles with confidence.

As I feel the Honda Odyssey is smoother, and the Pacifica much more contemporary (especially the hybrid), the Sienna SE is the athlete of this group. Despite its age, it is still relevant.

It is rated at 19 mpg city and 27 mpg highway. The AWD version is rated at 18 mpg city and 24 mpg highway. Driving the 2020 Toyota Sienna SE FWD somewhat aggressively – I averaged exactly 20 mpg. That’s not too shabby for a vehicle that weighs around 4,500 pounds.

Chauffeur service

While hanging out in Los Angeles, I gave the 2020 Sienna an important mission: to transport my family to a rowdy wedding. We held a total of seven adults comfortably. An eighth seat is provided, but must be installed between the middle row captain’s chairs. It’s a pain to install, and I was lucky not to need it.

Despite a high-energy wedding and inebriated passengers, the Sienna was an island of tranquility. Maximizing environmental systems for rear passenger comfort – avoided pilot nausea. Tuning the excellent amble sound system to a new-age station, everyone was mellowed and relaxed.

Our bags fit easily into the cargo area which normally contains the third row seats – with room to spare. Additional storage, cup holders and grab handles were also welcomed by passengers. He was an excellent mover.

look and price

I like that the Toyota Sienna is a little stylized, but nothing can disguise its boxy shape. Still, if you like the look of a Camry, the Sienna’s design might appeal to you. There are other versions that give you more customization, like the Nightshade Edition Set. This includes the black sport mesh front grille; black door handles, wheels, spoiler, exterior mirror caps, black Toyota emblem and rank badge.

A base 2020 Sienna model starts at $34,385. The next Chrysler Voyager will undercut that price by a wide margin. Our SE model starts at $37,715 before adding over $5,000 in options. If you opt for AWD, you’ll add upwards of $2,500 — depending on the trim. Considering how good these pickups are, I think it’s a bargain—and a lot more utilitarian than most crossovers.

Watch this video and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

Yes, it’s a 2019 model – but not much has changed.

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