2015 Toyota SiennaThu, 25 Sep 2014 14:58:00 EST
It's hard to love a minivan, but it's very, very easy to use one. More than any other kind of vehicle – save a panel van, perhaps – the minivan is the most appliance-like of four-wheeled transportation devices. And most minivan buyers don't need to love their purchases; they just need to use them. So when it comes to a minivan's driving dynamics, who cares?
Well, we do. So we perked right up when Toyota talked about refinements it made to the 2015 Sienna, starting with some 142 added spot welds made to the body structure. Normally not stop-the-presses stuff, but Toyota says the added reinforcements prompted Sienna engineers to recalibrate the springs and shocks for improved handling, and our very limited wheel time along the (admittedly benign) roads on the Big Island of Hawaii revealed the 2015 Sienna SE model's handling to be tidier and more engaging than you'd expect for a porky, 4,560-pound, eight-passenger box on wheels.
- Styling has been updated for 2015 in the most minor of ways. Headlights and taillamps are new on most models, as are revised grille inserts for LE, XLE and Limited grades. SE and Limited trims get long, skinny LED running lamps underscoring the headlamp bezels. The Sienna still looks portly compared to the Chrysler Town & Country and the elegant new Sedona from Kia, especially in the Sienna's SE "Swagger Wagon" trim. But give Toyota credit for at least trying to style its four-wheeled appliance.
- A reconfigured (and far more attractive) dashboard brings climate controls closer to the driver and incorporates standard touchscreen infotainment technology, while Limited models get a swanky new saddle-color leather treatment. More soft touch materials and satin chrome accents have found their way inside, upping the scale of the fitments appreciably. Other than that, however, there's not much that makes the Sienna special.
- Seating position is darn near perfect, with excellent outward sight lines. The relocated shifter looks and feels better than previous years, and the new climate controls (now with rear temperature settings that can sync with either front passenger) are no longer the reach they used to be.
- Thrust from the 266-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 is ho-hum, even with just two adults aboard. Then again, no minivan makes much more or much less power than this, so as long as drivers aren't the perpetually late type, they should find Sienna's output perfectly acceptable. We wish, however, that it made less of a fuss at high revs – it's a bit gruff.
- Brakes are surprisingly linear, responsive and even offer feel. Steering is well-weighted and 19-inch rolling stock offers decent grip.
- Added structural stiffening and sound insulation has created a remarkably quiet environment, even in the lower SE model. It's quiet enough to hear your children's scheming thoughts, which you may choose to quash using the new Driver Easy Speak microphone.
- Second-row outboard seats are comfortable, center position in eight-passenger configuration is tight.
- Backup camera lacks predictive trajectory graphics, as do many such systems in the industry.
- Pricing for the 2015 Sienna starts at $28,600 for a front-drive L and rises all the way to the Limited Premium all-wheel-drive model, which commands a heady $46,150 before options. A FWD SE like our test car bases at $34,900 (all prices are subject to a destination fee of $885). All of this means the Sienna is on the expensive side of the minivan ledger, but not out of line with key rivals like the Honda Odyssey.
- 3.5L V6
- 266 HP / 235 LB-FT
- 6-Speed Auto
- 0-60 Time:
- 8.2 Seconds (est)
- Front-Wheel Drive
- Engine Placement:
- Curb Weight:
- 4,560 LBS
- 150 CU-FT (max)
- 18 City / 25 HWY
- 3 Years / 36,000 Miles
- Base Price:
- As-Tested Price:
By Steve Siler
See also: 2015 Toyota Yaris, Sales incentive growth clustered around brands with few CUVs, trucks, Toyota Camry, Lexus RX to get aluminum parts.