- Sienna’s hybrid powertrain generates 245 hp and gets 36 mpg
- Class-beating interior space and practicality
- Surprisingly high resale value
When you consider buying a family car, a minivan is probably not the first genre of vehicle that pops into your mind. We’d argue that you’d think of an SUV before a minivan, as would most Americans.
But when you need ample space for seven or eight humans, pets, and their stuff, then the minivan is, without doubt, the roomiest and most practical.
In fact, what most people look for when they shortlist minivans is pretty much one thing—how does it rate as a living room on wheels?
However, unlike SUVs and pickup trucks, which list in the dozens, there just happen to be four—yes just four minivans to choose from. They are the Chrysler Pacifica, Honda Odyssey, Kia Carnival and Toyota Sienna.
Living room on wheels
And when you weight up the “living room on wheels” status, it’s the Sienna that wins the day. Its space, design, practicality and materials make it the most appealing of the bunch. The Toyota might not be as stylish as the Chrysler or Kia, and it may not be as quick as the Honda, but when you look at the complete package, we judged the Sienna to come out on top in this genre.
A highlight focuses on its excellent space for passengers, especially in the second row of seats, an excellent safety record, and a huge list of clever storage nooks. Its upper trim levels incorporate premium materials, built-in ottomans, and generous tech features. XSE trims and above get the option of two luxurious captain’s chairs in the second row, the best row in the car as it comes with “super-long-slide” 25-inch seats to allow extra legroom and easy third-row access.
Another feature that makes the Sienna stand out is its hybrid-only 2.5-liter inline four boasting mileage of 36 mpg (EPA) and a drivetrain available in FWD or AWD. With its pair of electric motors in the AWD model, it produces a healthy 245 hp which allows the Toyota to reach 60 mph in 7.9 seconds. The hybrid powertrain is smooth enough and works well around town, but can struggle a little when laden with a full family and luggage on highways.
Surprising resale value
Potential buyers may find the following trivia a comforting thought when considering their next minivan. The Toyota Sienna and the world’s first mass-produced hybrid car—the Prius—both made their debut in 1997. The fact that the Sienna only offers a hybrid powertrain now seems like the perfect result for America’s best family car.
Another fact that people short-listing minivans will be drawn to is the fact that Sienna’s resale value stays the highest in the minivan genre. Whereas the mid-range 2023 XLE trim starts at $41,445, the resale value for a 2022 Sienna is currently hovering around $41,000 which outguns the figures of its three rivals.
Toyota has focused seriously on safety for its Sienna. Standard safety features include automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitors, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, and a rear obstacle alert.
Of special note—last year’s Sienna earned a 5-star rating from the NHTSA and a Top Safety Pick+ award from the IIHS, figures that bode well for this year’s model.
In a small segment of four, the Sienna has found its niche at the top of the pile. It’s not the prettiest or the quickest, but overall, it does offer over-average comfort levels, class-leading safety and rear roominess, great mileage and cost performance, and a top resale value. And in the minivan world, that’s an important point.