Blurring the line between SUV and minivan. According to Cathy Martin, the 2022 Toyota Sienna manages to do just that.
“If I walked past a car in a parking lot and looked at it quickly,” the Calgarian says of the Sienna, “I might think it was an SUV.
When Toyota launched its fourth generation Sienna in late 2020 as the 2021 model year minivan, the automaker significantly overhauled the vehicle’s sheet metal. There were new body lines and contours that conspire to give the perception of a longer front end, and that’s something that contributes to Martin’s thinking that it almost looks like an SUV.
Cathy and her husband Bob took turns driving a seven-passenger 2022 Sienna XSE AWD for a review by readers. They are no strangers to the minivan world. When their family was younger, they drove a 1991 Plymouth Voyager and enjoyed the all-around utility it offered. Now Bob drives a 1946 Chevy pickup truck daily (you read that right – a 1946), and Cathy’s vehicle is a 2002 Subaru Forester.
“We tend to keep our vehicles for a really long time,” says Bob, a retired mechanic who’s owned his 46 Chevy for nearly 50 years. “But we are no strangers to new vehicles and technology, as we sometimes get behind the wheel of a modern rental.”
Bob thought the Sienna had a wide stance and was attractive to look at. Cathy couldn’t quite get past the grille design – she thought it was harsh. Otherwise, she found the overall profile appealing. Finished in Ruby Flare Pearl, a color Bob says is a nice shade of red over the Moonstone/Grey Flannel blended Softex and perforated leather interior, Martin’s tester cost just over $56,000. It included the $5,755 tech package, giving the van LED fog lights, a nine-inch touchscreen, a JBL sound system, and plenty of other extras.
One of those extras that Bob really liked to use was the digital display rearview mirror.
“I wasn’t really comfortable looking in the rearview mirror through the rear window above the rear seats,” says Bob. “But that rear-view camera really made a difference.”
Bob is 5’10” and Cathy is 5’6″. When changing drivers in their Subaru, they usually don’t need to adjust the seat or controls, and they found it to be quite simple to settle into the Sienna with its eight-way power driver’s seat. , plus four power settings. lumbar support. The passenger seat has four-way power adjustment.
“I spent time in the driveway hitting all the buttons to see what did what,” says Bob, and adds, “It was pretty intuitive, but I skimmed through the 600-page owner’s manual. “
He liked the graphical display showing the power transfer between the hybrid engine and Toyota’s gasoline engine. All Sienna minivans feature a 2.5-liter DOHC four-cylinder engine and Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive system that delivers 245 net horsepower.
Unlike an all-electric vehicle, which draws power by being plugged in, a hybrid vehicle combines a gasoline engine with an electric motor. With a hybrid, depending on the driving conditions, the vehicle will be powered by electricity only, gasoline only, or a combination of the two sources. In the simplest description, the hybrid electric motor’s high-voltage battery draws its charge from the gasoline engine and regenerative braking and is smaller and lighter than an electric motor-only battery.
“It was the first hybrid vehicle we’ve ever driven,” says Bob. “I think it’s very smart technology because you’re not relying on having to charge the vehicle to (take advantage of the electric drive feature).”
Cathy adds: “The hybrid appeals to me as opposed to an all-electric too. It provided good pick-up to blend in with traffic, and there was never any hesitation. And Bob says, “The CVT just hums, you never really feel or hear it doing its job. On the highway, there was enough power to pass, and the hybrid ran smoothly.
Toyota’s fuel consumption rating is 6.7 L/100 km combined city and highway driving. Bob and Cathy drove the Sienna in a variety of conditions, hitting the highway a few times. They calculated their economy at 7.1 L/100 km.
Ride and handling were good, according to the Martins. It also had a tight turning radius, and Cathy found the van navigated parking lots with ease and was not difficult to navigate in tight spaces.
“It wasn’t so big that I had to find bigger parking spots,” she says. “And there was plenty of cargo space to carry everything you would need, including bikes.” Bob adds: “The tailgate was easy to use and the kick-in function was very handy to use, while the seats fold down and fold almost flat into the ground – and that presents a very large load area. “
Both were very comfortable driving the Sienna and thought it would be easy to spend hours behind the wheel.
“I was impressed and felt safer knowing there are 10 airbags,” says Cathy. “It would be a great van for families.” Bob concludes: “Or, it would be ideal for a couple like us, as it’s convenient to get in and out of, and there are excellent storage and transport capabilities.”
115km. I took the car and went to Bragg Creek. First impressions – beautiful vehicle; very good driving in town and on the highway. Good acceleration; good turning radius. Comfortable seats, with good lumbar support, especially on the driver’s seat. Cathy took care of checking all the little extras inside… excellent console space – open space on the lower section, plus a covered storage hole and four cup holders on the upper section (two of which were quite large for the water bottle that doesn’t fit in our Subaru cup holders). Plenty of leg room. Nice big screen for backing up, with easy-to-manage touch controls for GPS, radio, and more. I discovered the alternative look of the rearview mirror, which uses a camera – I really liked that. Cathy drove home, stopping to show the vehicle to a couple of friends. People were impressed. Used GPS, just to say we made it…works well.
15km. I just went shopping today. I realized it was AWD, which is great. I liked the snow tires, but I didn’t drive much on snow. I found the rear seats stow easily for more trunk space.
72km. We went for our photo shoot and then went to lunch in the deep south. Home via Deerfoot, again using GPS.
5km. Only had a few quick runs today, but question the effectiveness of a tire repair kit instead of a spare tire.
34km. I went to two farmers markets today, with Cathy sitting in the second row seats. She liked the sunscreens on the windows there, as well as the fact that the windows open. The sunroof is great – opens both ways or stays closed and can be covered. Auto open/close side doors operate smoothly. Lots of plug-ins – USB, HDMI (didn’t use rear screen – for movies for passengers), 120V, 12V. Didn’t use bluetooth for phones (don’t have smart phones) but listened to our playlist via iPad. Great speakers!
145km. Country outing today. Visited near Madden and then to Big Hill Springs Provincial Park. Home via Cochrane. The hybrid feature is great, although we never knew when, why, how it would go into EV mode…lots to learn there I guess. Like the dangerous lights on the mirrors. Also, the heated steering wheel. Accustomed to heated seats – which we love – but not to the heated steering wheel.
32km. Cathy just ran some errands today. She loves the kick to open the back door – so handy when you have your hands full. She also noted that the interior light can be turned off so it doesn’t come on when the doors open – a nice option. I had to refuel and return the vehicle reluctantly. Provided impressive gas mileage.