The 2020 Toyota Sienna XLE Premium delivers solid power but is showing its age

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Driving this 2020 Toyota Sienna XLE Premium reminds me that it’s been a long time since I thought minivans were lame. Already in my late twenties I understood the convenience of body styling. Of course, SUVs look at cooler – they mostly still do – but now that I have kids a minivan seems essential to me. Truck-like utility, car-like ride, decent power, and enough room to keep kids from kicking your seat? That’s all I need.

Full disclosure: My wife just leased a Chrysler Pacifica Limited, which is a similar trim level to this Toyota Sienna XLE Premium. And both cost within a few hundred dollars of each other. Plus, they both have V6 power (the Sienna makes 296 hp, the Pacifica 287 hp). Considering that, comparing my wife’s Pacifica with the Sienna seems apt. And, just for argument’s sake, the Honda Odyssey puts out 280 hp from its 3.5-liter V6.

Bottom line: The Sienna is a good pickup. You get a nice sunroof, tri-zone climate control and a 7-inch touchscreen with navigation and plenty of ways to connect your smartphone. Plus, the cabin is quiet and the powertrain is energetic. That said, I prefer the Pacifica. The Sienna’s 3.5-liter V6, for example, is more than enough for everyday driving (it’s as quick as the Mustangs of my childhood), but it doesn’t run as smoothly or quietly as the one in the Pacifica. Also, when revving the Toyota V6, gear changes sound a bit gritty from the driver’s seat. Maybe it needs more soundproofing.

The beauty of the van design opened up. The Toyota Sienna on display.

Toyota

Age plays a role here: this third-generation Sienna has been on sale since 2010, which is old even with periodic upgrades. Its latest refresh in 2019 brought the option of all-wheel drive, more standard safety features, plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. With seating for seven or eight passengers, depending on configuration, the Sienna’s second row slides fore and aft 23 inches, providing plenty of legroom in the third or second row. And, depending on configuration, the Sienna can tow up to 3,500 pounds.

For children, the Toyota has both a “conversation mirror” for rear passengers and an optional Driver Easy Speak feature that projects the driver’s voice over the speaker system: “Stop hitting your brother !

It’s a nice minivan, but I think the Pacifica wins in looks, powertrain and interior features, which is basically everything. I assume you have Toyota reliability. But I suggest you drive the Pacifica and the Honda Odyssey before you buy.


Specifications of the 2020 Toyota Sienna XLE Premium

On sale: Now

base price: $44,780 Price as tested: $45,495

Choice: All-season floor mats ($438); fenders ($149); door edge guard ($79); cargo net ($49)

Powertrain: 3.5L V6, eight-speed automatic, all-wheel drive

Production: 296 hp at 6,600 rpm; 263 lb-ft at 4,700 rpm

Wheelbase: 111.2 inches

Length Width Height: 192.1/72.4/56.9 inches

Unloaded weight: 4,590 pounds

Fuel Economy (City/Highway/Combined): 18/24/20mpg

Benefits: You can yell at your kids through the stereo

The inconvenients: Not as refined as the new Chrysler Pacifica

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