Reviews

2017 Toyota Sienna Driving Impressions


Performance in minivans is more a matter of safety and maneuverability than acceleration or passing power. As long as it reaches highway speeds promptly, halts effectively, and is agile enough to steer around trouble spots, a minivan scores well.

That said, the Sienna feels heavy and sluggish, slow to respond in transient maneuvers and seems to require more steering input than many SUVs do.

Because of its size and weight and its tall profile, handling is lethargic. There’s a fair amount of nose dive when braking. Sienna isn’t quiet on the highway, either.

With nearly 300 horsepower for 2017, the V6 suffers no shortage of energy on the road, ranking above average for its class. Shifts are smooth and practically imperceptible from the new 8-speed automatic, though downshifting to pass can be slow. The engine and transmission do not seem perfectly coordinated, however. When taking a right-hand turn at an intersection the transmission often selects a relatively high gear (third) in the middle of the turn; then, as the accelerator is depressed to accelerate out of the corner, the transmission has to downshift (to second gear) to call up sufficient torque to accelerate, an annoying trait.

With its tighter-tuned suspension and 19-inch tires, the Sienna SE is the sportiest model, but differences from top trim levels are subtle. With a towing package, a Sienna can haul as much as 3,500 pounds, a lightweight boat, for example.

Fuel economy ranks as respectable with the new, stronger engine and 8-speed automatic, though all-wheel drive lowers the mileage significantly. The front-wheel-drive Sienna is EPA-rated at 19/27 mpg City/Highway, or 22 mpg Combined. All-wheel drive drops those figures to 18/24 mpg City/Highway, or 20 mpg Combined.

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