Review: 2015 Toyota Sienna Limited Premium
The Toyota Sienna is much-loved by families. How good is it? We hauled our family around for a week doing the school run, grocery shopping, running errands and even patiently waiting for 45 minutes in a parking lot to meet friends (who were stuck in traffic) for dinner.
Under the Hood
The Toyota Sienna features a 3.5-liter 6-cylinder across model lines. The engine puts out a respectable 266 horsepower and 245 lb-ft of torque and is mated to a 6-speed electronically controlled transmission.
There is only so much that can be done to liven up the basic minivan structure, but Toyota has managed to make their iteration of the boxy family hauler somehow sleek and modern looking. We might even say it’s attractive. The V-shaped grille and wedge-shaped front end are distinctly Toyota. Lines along the bottom of the van angle up while the roof ever so slightly angles down. These subtle details contribute to reducing the boxy appearance of the Sienna.
Our test vehicle was the Limited trim line which adds even more dressy features to the outside of an already good looking van. The metallic grille is set into a chrome surround and external door handles are trimmed with chrome. It’s plenty easy to overdo the shiny bits, but these touches add just enough flash to turn heads in a good way.
Not only does the Sienna Limited sport good looking design, there are loads of convenience features. All Sienna’s come standard with dual power sliding doors. The Limited features a standard power liftgate with jam protection as well. Puddle lights and power folding side view mirrors that tilt down while reversing are also standard on the top of the line model.
Expectations for the modern minivan are for loads of convenience features and comfort in every seating position. The Sienna Limited delivers. The front seats are you-favorite-chair-comfortable. The driver seat is 8-way power-adjustable and the passenger seat is 4-way making it an effort to not be comfortable. Second row seats are leather trimmed captains chairs and feature a power foot rest that turns the two seats into recliners. The two seats are also equipped with a long-slide feature that allows them to slide forward and backward allowing for quite a range of legroom. Second row seating just might be as comfortable as the front seats.
Cargo room behind the third row is pretty impressive. The weekly grocery haul will easily fit back there as will goodies from a moderate warehouse club trip. If that’s not enough room, and you forgot a couple of the kids at home, just hit a button in the cargo area and the 60/40 split third row folds flat providing a cavernous space to fill with that 48-pack toilet paper and two for one barrels of cheese doodles.
The only real issue we had with seating or storage inside the Sienna was the odd seating position for the driver. Toyota boasts a “wraparound dashboard design” centered on the driver, but we didn’t notice and wrapping. We felt the steering wheel/console area was flatter than most. Adjusting the driver’s seating position felt like sliding a chair up to desk that just happened to have a steering wheel attached to it.
We have raved about Toyota’s Entune infotainment system before. It is easy to use, and almost as easy to learn. The Sienna Limited features a 7” high-resolution touchscreen to access the system which features an Entune App Suite that includes Bing, Facebook Places, and OpenTable among other useful apps.
A nice feature about the Toyota touchscreen is its split-screen capability which allows you to monitor two systems at once. The interior systems can be controlled via the screen while redundant controls for audio and HVAC are mounted below the screen within easy reach of the driver and front passenger. A driver info screen is mounted in the modern instrument cluster and is controlled via steering wheel mounted controls. Additional audio controls are also mounted on the steering wheel that manages to not look or feel clustered. The wheel controls are intuitively placed and easy to use.
All of the console mounted controls in the Sienna are easy to use and are well placed from a standpoint of usefulness. We’re not sure we understand the thought behind the design though. Most of the controls are set into an area below the touchscreen. The controls are knobs and buttons of all shapes and sizes with no rhyme or reason. Instead of the controls being designed for the panel, it looks as if the designers took what already existed in the Toyota parts bin and made parts from three other vehicles fit the existing space.
Below the touchscreen and the controls, the center stack angles down to the floor of the van. The face of the stack houses the auxiliary plug, USB ports, and auxiliary audio jack. A large center console between the front seats contains a good size covered storage bin as well as two cupholders for the front occupants. Cupholders for the second row passengers are mounted in the rear of the console in the Limited. The section of the console those cupholders are set into is designed so it can slide about a foot to the rear to keep up with the sliding second row seats.
While we do have some gripes with a design element or two, there is no complaint with Toyota craftsmanship. Soft touch materials surround the occupants and add a premium feel. Overall fit and finish are superb as we have come to expect from the brand.
The Sienna is supremely comfortable. The driver seat chair-like seating is perfect for a road trip. All of the passengers get their own little cocoon of comfort. The drive itself, however, is less comfortable. Handling was ok in that the steering and braking were car-like, which seems to be what every minivan manufacturer strives for. Our biggest issue with the Sienna was that it seemed to operate in two parts. It felt to us from the driver and passenger seat as if the back half of the vehicle was always playing catch up with the front half. It felt like two different parts were trying to work together.
The space behind the front occupants felt like a hollow tube. Even with passengers and cargo in the back, the rear just felt cavernous and separate. The Sienna managed to feel as large as some 15 and 17 passenger vans we have driven.
Important Numbers for Families
- 4 – In an upgrade from the 2014 model, the 2015 Sienna features four LATCH locations instead of three.
- 8 – For the 2015 model, Sienna gains 1 airbag to now give it a class-leading total of eight (including larger curtain side airbags). The new airbag is the front-passenger seat cushion airbag.
Family 5 Test
- Car Seats – Let’s face it, the Sienna is made to haul around a family. Getting car seats in and out is a breeze and now the minivan can handle four of them.
- Coffee Cups – The Sienna gives front row passengers penalty of room to sit with the cup holders in the center between the seats. Our second row passengers loved the way their cupholders moved to get closer to their seating positions.
- Luggage – If you’re taking a family of 6 on the road, this is the vehicle you want to do it in.
- Golf Clubs – There’s no problem fitting your clubs in the rear cargo area of the Sienna. You can even fit them between seats in the second row.
- Groceries – Costco run? Sam’s Club run? You can do both and still have room to stow your passengers.
The Bottom Line
There is likely not a more practical and comfortable platform from which to launch a road trip or to catch up on social media in the carpool line than the Toyota Sienna Limited. If after much soul searching you have found your lot in life is to own a minivan, this one should top your list.
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