Minivans are a strange breed. They are some of the least liked vehicles in the world yet they are without a shadow of doubt the most versatile, capable and family-friendly imaginable.
Toyota is one of the very few remaining car companies that has, for the longest time, had a minivan as part of its North American offering. The Sienna is therefore one of the most well-rounded and efficient of its kind. Truth be told, its kind is dying so the options are very limited. Be that as it may, the Sienna has much going for it, however there are some elements that are unacceptable. Curious if this is the minivan for you?
Why you should buy a 2019 Toyota Sienna SE AWD:
- The heavily-utilized 3.5-litre V6 produces 296-horsepower which makes the Sienna the most powerful in the segment. Although this may be true, I would qualify the van as no more than quick. The recently added 8-speed automatic transmission is highly functional and efficient.
- The Toyota Sienna is the only minivan that is offered with available AWD. This point alone separates it from the pack.
- Although the van is getting on in age, the outer shell retains a contemporary look. The SE in particular is sporty thanks to its skirt kit and lovely 18-inch wheels.
- This may apply to all minivans but the cabin is enormous. The seats are configurable in numerous ways, enabling seating for 7 or 8 passengers or as parking for a Yaris.
- The Sienna drives like a minivan but points must be awarded for the very tight turning radius and decent ride quality.
Why you should not buy a 2019 Toyota Sienna SE AWD:
- The 2019 Sienna’s older design and platform are evident. Compared to a Honda Odyssey or Chrysler Pacifica, the Toyota is noisier and not quite as refined.
- The Sienna is far too expensive for what you get. The tested $51,220 SE AWD lacked a heated steering wheel, memory seating and was equipped with projector halogen headlights. This is not acceptable in 2019.
- The brake pedal is mushy. Pedal travel is long which can be annoying at first.
- Related to refinement, the V6 becomes noisy, buzzy even, under mild acceleration, and I found a rattle or two while driving that should not be.
- The Sienna recently disappointed in IIHS crash tests. In passenger-side small overlap front crash testing, the Sienna performed poorly. The van remains very safe but for some, this could be an issue.
The sole and real issue with the 2019 Toyota Sienna is the price. A base 7-passenger V6 retails for $35,145, and that’s fair. Up to the $41,350 LE AWD and $42,545 SE, the lack of certain elements is tolerable. Beyond that however, I cannot accept that in order to get some features, $54,000 must be spent.
Toyota Canada is well aware of the situation. In a nutshell, their hands are tied and can do zilch at least until the next generation van comes. It’s expected for the 2020 model year but nothing is confirmed at the moment. What is also frustrating is that discounts, incentives or even deals are not typically part of Toyota’s vocabulary.
The bottom line is that the 2019 Toyota Sienna SE AWD is a great product but it’s far too pricey. The Kia Sedona is more modern, much more affordable and better equipped. The Honda Odyssey is no bargain but it too is newer. The Pacifica is a valid option too.
Would I still get a Sienna? Yes, if mostly because of AWD.