Entry price: $30,850
Price as tested: $49,610
This week we’re enjoying the luxurious surroundings of Toyota’s top line 2018 Sienna Limited Premium AWD minivan, the only minivan in America that offers 4x4. With roomy and deluxe appointments, this Sienna could easily be called a “maxivan” thanks to its long wheelbase attributes and room for seven passengers. New for 2018 is a refresh to the exterior design with an all-new front end along with new lower side rocker panels.
During our week-long test, we utilized the Sienna to move some household items, make a few runs to the home center and also some shorter mileage runs on back country roads. Overall, and with extra thanks to the interior’s many storage offerings, it was a pleasure in each and every manner of use.
Toyota engineers, albeit late to the minivan party that started with Dodge and Plymouth in 1984, have indeed figured out how to master any extra cargo room concerns that usually plague vehicles with third-row seating, much to our delight. Sienna’s deep cargo area behind its third-row split bench allows families who might have had to buy an attachable cargo top loader to stack suitcases behind the third row with ease.
Although we drove the top line Limited Premium AWD that starts at $48,615, consumers are to take note that not all Sienna’s cost over $40,000. The entry level and well equipped “L” base model starts at just $30,850 with the powerful V6 engine as standard and seating that accommodates eight passengers.
The standard engine that powers all of the Sienna family is a 3.5 liter V6 that produces 296 horses and 263 lb. ft. of torque. In addition to very impressive acceleration and passing performance, fuel mileage is very good for a near two-ton vehicle, coming in at 19 city and 27 highway for the front drive models while the AWD Sienna still delivers a decent 18 city and 24 highway. A four cylinder Sienna is no longer available as the V6 now delivers better fuel mileage overall thanks to an updated eight-speed automatic transmission that replaced the earlier generation’s six-speed automatic setups.
Standard fare on the Limited Premium is pretty much a “full house” scenario as not one option was listed on the window sticker. Upscale features like dual power sliding doors with child protect, power driver and passenger captain chairs with lumbar, heated seats, smart key with push button start, dual moonroof (very nice) electro rear view mirror, Homelink, multi info display, tri-zone climate control, beautiful two-tone leather, second row Captain chairs, Entune Premium Audio with JBL speakers, Entune App Suite, MP3, 5 USB ports, phone compatibility, iPod connections, auxiliary jack, SiriusXM satellite, ambient interior lighting, upgraded instrumentation, and much more.
Although we weren’t able to test it, the AWD system is an active torque command traction system that reduces EPA numbers versus a 2WD Limited as mentioned above. The AWD system features an active Torque Control that allows the 18-inch Bridgestone all season tires on 10-spoke alloy wheels to work in unison and not allow any front end pulling to the left or right under full throttle applications.
If a trip to the home center is on your itinerary, you’ll find it easy to remove the sliding second row and then fold the third row seat into that deep floor. The result is a massive 150 cu. ft. of cargo space at your fingertips. Also notable is a special XLE with Auto Access Seat model starts at $43,225. This seat that swings outboard allows ease of entry for those who need assistance. (Great feature if needed, see photo).
Sienna safety is top notch as all Toyota vehicles now arrive with its respected Safety Sense system and three months free of emergency Safety Connect. Included are enhanced vehicle stability control, electronic brake assist with traction control, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, multi-view Bird’s Eye backup camera, lane departure alert with steering assist, auto high beams, radar park assist and radar controlled cruise control. As for air bags, Sienna now features eight including front, side, curtain shield in all three rows and even a driver’s knee airbag. This is perhaps the best standard safety equipment offered by any manufacturer. One final safety note is rear cross traffic alert and blind spot monitor, both standard on top line Premium.
On the highway, all Sienna minivans handle well while the Limited Premium really delivers with all the extra amenities. Most notable is a Dual View Blu-Ray system with a large 16.4-inch screen for rear passenger enjoyment. With two different inputs allowing different movies or games, this entertainment system makes movies come to life thanks to the Entune Premium stereo’s 10 speakers with subwoofer.
The relaxing ride comes thanks to a McPherson strut front suspension with gas shocks that combines with a twist beam coil rear design for ultimate comfort and performance. All Sienna minivans deliver a great ride, good handling and quiet interior. Important is the fact you can get into the entry level “L” Sienna for just $30,850 retail, so there are many price ranges amongst nine specific trims to choose from.
Important numbers include a 119.3 inch wheelbase, 4,750 lb. curb weight, 20-gallon fuel tank, 39.1 to 150 cu. ft of cargo space depending on seat arrangement, 3,500 lb. tow capacity, 37.4 ft. turning circle and 6.6 inch ground clearance.
Sienna is an excellent, safe choice in the minivan market for your growing family or small business. If you need 8-passenger seating, the lesser priced Siennas offers this seating arrangement. See your Toyota dealer for current buyer incentives and leftover offers.
Likes: New looks, AWD, Auto Access Seat, lots of cargo room, safety.
Dislikes: Pricing can get expensive, not much else.
— Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and GateHouse Media.
Test Drive: 2018 Toyota Sienna Minivan
Entry price: $30,850