- Smooth and powerful V6
- Available all-wheel drive
- Seven- or eight-passenger seating
- Some lower-grade plastics in cabin
- Expensive options packages
When it comes to family haulers, nothing beats a minivan. And when it comes to minivans, it's tough to beat the 2013 Toyota Sienna. As you'd expect of any modern minivan, the Sienna offers a spacious interior and an embarrassment of riches as far as available luxury and convenience features go. But it's the Sienna's impressive combination of refinement, performance, fuel efficiency and reliability that push it to the front of this segment.
This year sees the four-cylinder engine dropped from the roster. Though we liked the way the Sienna drove with this lightweight engine, we imagine the number of buyers who selected it has been fairly small, given the fact that it got pretty much the same fuel mileage as the frugal but much more powerful V6. There are also a few new standard features, as the LE picks up triple-zone automatic climate control while the XLE and Limited gain a blind-spot monitoring system.
Speaking of trim levels, the Sienna offers quite the variety, including the SE with its sport-tuned suspension and aggressive styling tweaks that do their best to make the minivan look cool. If a first-class cabin is more to your liking, you'll be pleased to know that luxuries such as recliner-style seating for the second row and a rear video entertainment system sporting a large split-screen monitor are available.
Regardless of which version you lean toward, the 2013 Toyota Sienna has the basics nailed down, providing a smooth, quiet ride, spirited acceleration and comfortable seating. It also can carry up to eight and offers available all-wheel drive, the latter exclusive to the Sienna and a boon for those who frequently slog through rain and snow.
Of course, the minivan segment boasts some impressive choices. Our other top choice is the talented 2013 Honda Odyssey whose wide, uniquely configurable second-row seat adds an extra measure of versatility. You might also want to look at the 2013 Dodge Grand Caravan or the 2013 Nissan Quest for their fold-flat second- and third-row seating arrangements. Still, the 2013 Toyota Sienna is easy to recommend to savvy consumers thanks to its pleasing mix of features, power and versatility.
WHAT'S NEW FOR 2013
For 2013, the Toyota Sienna drops the four-cylinder engine and gains a few added standard features.
TRIMS & EQUIPMENT
The 2013 Toyota Sienna minivan comes in five trim levels: base L, LE, SE, XLE and Limited. The LE and XLE come in seven- and eight-passenger configurations; the L and Limited are seven-passenger only and the SE is eight-passenger only. All trims come with front-wheel drive, while the LE, XLE and Limited can also be had with all-wheel drive.
The Sienna L includes 17-inch alloy wheels, sliding rear doors with power-down windows, triple-zone air-conditioning, full power accessories, a telescoping steering wheel, cruise control and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack.
The LE adds a roof rack, power-sliding side doors, power rear liftgate, privacy glass, heated outside mirrors, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, floor- and overhead-mounted control consoles, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, triple-zone automatic climate control, an eight-way power driver seat, a four-way power passenger seat, power driver lumbar support, second- and third-row sunshades, a 3.5-inch display (including a back-up monitor), Bluetooth (phone and streaming audio) and a six-speaker sound system with satellite radio and an iPod/USB interface.
The sport-themed SE is equipped similarly to the LE but adds more aggressive styling thanks to 19-inch alloy wheels, a unique front fascia (with foglights, mesh inserts and a larger air intake), lower body skirting and tinted head- and taillights. The SE also has firmer suspension tuning, revised power steering and a power liftgate. Inside the SE are leatherette/cloth upholstery, unique instruments and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.
The Sienna XLE adds a number of luxury features to the LE's list of amenities, including a unique metallic-gray grille insert, automatic headlights, a sunroof, a tow prep package, an acoustic windshield, a blind spot monitor, leather upholstery, wood-grain interior trim, heated front seats and auto-up/down power windows.
The plush Limited features 18-inch alloy wheels, a satin chrome grille, auto-dimming outside mirrors, dual sunroofs, front and rear parking sensors, keyless ignition and entry, two-tone leather seating, driver memory settings, a leather-and-wood steering wheel, an upgraded 10-speaker JBL surround-sound audio system, second-row lounge seats and a power split-folding third-row seat.
Options on the Toyota Sienna are grouped into packages that vary based on trim level and buying region. Notable highlights include xenon headlights, rain-sensing wipers, adaptive cruise control, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system with a large screen that can be split to display two different sources and a navigation system with Entune smartphone app integration and a back-up camera.
INTERIOR & SAFETY
Lower trim levels of the Sienna are attractively decked out with high-quality fabric upholstery, while higher-end models get leather along with faux-wood cabin accents. Some of the plastics feel a bit downmarket, though, while others -- such as the intentionally rough-textured plastic on the dash -- are just plain odd. Seating is plush, there's abundant space for storage and the Sienna's controls are user-friendly.
On the electronics front, the Sienna's available navigation system includes Entune, a suite of smartphone-connected services that includes features like the Bing search engine, Pandora streaming radio, real-time traffic, sports and stock information. The touchscreen interface is pretty easy to use, but sometimes the virtual buttons' delayed response to touch inputs can be frustrating. We do like the available rear-seat entertainment system, which features a split-screen monitor that allows two different media (e.g., a movie on one side and a video game on the other) to play simultaneously.
With a seven-passenger Sienna, you get second-row captain's chairs that tip up to allow easier access to the third row; these chairs also have a long-slide feature to maximize legroom for taller passengers. However, the seats do require a fair amount of effort to slide, and removing them is a job best left to two people, as they are rather heavy and awkward. The eight-passenger version comes with a 40/20/40-split second-row bench whose center section slides close to the front seats for easier access to the little one seated there.
If you choose a model fitted with the lounge seats, the second-row passengers get to recline in La-Z-Boy-style comfort, provided the seats are slid back far enough (and the front seats are up far enough) to allow the built-in footrests to come up all the way. With the second-row seats out and the third row stowed, the Sienna provides a massive 150 cubic feet of maximum cargo capacity.
Antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, a driver-side knee airbag and active front head restraints are standard on all 2013 Toyota Sienna models. A package that includes active cruise control, a pre-collision warning system and hill start assist is optional on the Limited. At our test track, a Sienna Limited stopped from 60 mph in 127 feet -- about average for the minivan segment.
In government crash testing, the Sienna received an overall score of four stars out of five. It got three stars for overall frontal crash protection and five stars for overall side crash protection. In tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Sienna earned a top score of "Good" for its performance in frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength crash tests.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
Every Toyota Sienna comes with a 3.5-liter V6 that delivers 266 horsepower and 245 pound-feet of torque and which drives the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. The Sienna LE, XLE and Limited models can also be had with all-wheel drive.
In Edmunds testing, we timed a front-drive Sienna Limited from zero to 60 mph in a swift 7.5 seconds. The EPA fuel economy estimates come in at 18 mpg city/25 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined. Opting for all-wheel drive drops those estimates to 16/23/19.
We've long been impressed with the Sienna's V6, which has the juice to deliver lively acceleration whether you're bopping around town running errands or swiftly getting up to cruising speed on the freeway. The smart six-speed automatic does a great job at keeping the thrust on tap, yet the combination still manages to provide respectable fuel mileage provided one isn't too heavy on the throttle.
The 2013 Toyota Sienna's ride quality is plush, and handling is competent in all versions. The SE's recalibrated suspension helps it provide more agile handling with a somewhat firmer (though still comfortable) ride quality. The steering is typical Toyota, meaning precise if somewhat numb, though the SE offers a meatier feel to the steering action.
Roomy, comfortable, well-built and offered in several different trim levels, the 2013 Toyota Sienna minivan is an excellent choice for larger families.