Toyota's Sienna van adds a more powerful and more fuel-efficient engine for 2017 and now ranks at the top in gas mileage ratings with competing family vans.
The new, 296-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 adds 30 horsepower and 18 foot-pounds of torque to the front-wheel drive Sienna while boosting fuel mileage, as measured by the U.S. government, to 19 miles per gallon in city driving and 27 mpg on highways for an average of 22 mpg. This is the same rating as the 2017 Honda Odyssey and Nissan Quest as well as the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica.
The Sienna also continues as a recommended buy of Consumer Reports magazine, where reliability is reported as a top, five out of five. The 2017 Sienna, which is sold with seven or eight seats, also earned an overall five out of five stars from the U.S. government for occupant protection in crashes, though the frontal crash rating was only four out of five stars.
The Sienna also continues as the only family van that offers all-wheel drive.
The starting manufacturer's suggested retail prices with destination charge for a base 2017 Sienna L is $30,710 and includes seven seats, the new V-6, new, eight-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive. This is an increase of $960 from the base 2016 Sienna L. The lowest starting MSRP, including destination charge, for a 2017 Sienna with all-wheel drive is $36,040, and that is for a Sienna LE.
It's been seven years since the Sienna received a major redo by Toyota, but U.S. car buyers continue to select the Sienna in large numbers. In calendar 2016, the Sienna edged out the segment leader — the Dodge Grand Caravan — in U.S. sales by 113 units even though the Sienna's base price is higher. Sienna's sales totaled 127,791, while the Grand Caravan, which has a starting retail price of $27,090 for a base 2017 SE model, chalked up 127,678 sales.
In the first four months of 2017, the Sienna outsold the newest family van, the Chrysler Pacifica.
The sales achievements demonstrate the enduring appeal of the Sienna's best features, such as spacious second-row doorways and extra-long seat tracks allowing 23 inches of travel for second-row seats for considerable legroom comfort for passengers in back.
The Sienna also has a reputation for reliability. It was the top minivan in J.D. Power and Associates' 2017 Dependability Study, which tallies owners' reported problems during the first three years of ownership.
The 2017 Sienna isn't glitzy on the outside. At nearly 17 feet long, it looks long and undistinguishable. Even the 19-inch alloy wheels on the test SE Premium model looked small under the large vehicle body.
Inside, the Sienna feels spacious. It has 150 cubic feet of cargo space and plentiful drink holders. For example, the two front-seat passengers have six cup holders.
The mirror in the overhead console that gives views of all of the seats is standard and made for parents to keep an eye on children.
The Driver Easy Speak feature uses the audio system's rear speakers to ensure the driver is heard by even third-row passengers.
The interior plastic on the test SE Premium van had a nice texture and overall appearance, and no one would guess that the third-row seats were covered in leatherette, rather than the real leather that was on the first two rows of seats.
The center console had an open, wide spot for storing purses along with a deep, covered area for other items.
The new V6 mated to the new eight-speed automatic, worked as advertised, providing strong power while also meeting the government's estimated 22 mpg in city/highway travel.
The driver needed to really press on the accelerator, though, as subtle pressure didn't necessarily bring a response.
2017 Toyota Sienna SE Premium
BASE PRICE: $29,750 for L; $32,540 for LE FWD; $35,080 for LE AWD; $36,110 for SE; $36,310 for XLE FWD; $38,520 for XLE AWD; $39,505 for XLE Premium FWD; $41,715 for XLE Premium AWD; $40,830 for SE Premium.
AS TESTED: $43,506.
TYPE: Front-engine, front-wheel-drive, eight-passenger minivan.
ENGINE: 3.5-liter, double overhead cam, direct injection V-6 with dual VVT-iW and VVT-i.
MILEAGE: 19 mpg (city), 27 mpg (highway).
TOP SPEED: 117 mph.
BUILT AT: Princeton, Ind.
OPTIONS: Paint protection film $395; security system $359; carpet mat package $330; cargo organizer $239; mudguards $129; wireless headphones $100; universal tablet holder $99; alloy wheel locks $65.