REVIEW: 2016 Toyota Sienna, minivan for all or one

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The 2016 Toyota Sienna, celebrating its 20th year, ideally defines one of the manufacturer’s best attributes. Entry level sedans to large people movers, Toyota vehicles have lots of standard equipment. And it’s among the signature attributes of the popular minivan. Updates include improvements in the Entune connectivity system, sonar parking assist warnings and blind-spot monitoring.

The 2016 Toyota Sienna is a versatile minivan for families of all sizes.
The 2016 Toyota Sienna is a versatile minivan for families of all sizes.

The Weekly Driver’s Test Drive: 2016 Toyota Sienna

The 2016 Toyota Sienna, like the Honda Odyssey, its main competitor, no longer has any relation to the stodgy reputation of minivans of yesteryear. Manufactured since 1997 when it replaced the Previa, the 2016 Toyota Sienna is now in the fifth year of the third generation. Only a few minor changes differentiate this year’s models from 2015 choice.

Equipped with a 3.5-liter, V6 with 266-horsepower, the 2016 Toyota Sienna features a six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive, unique in the segment. The shift knob is ideally placed low and slightly to right of center.

Standard equipment includes: a 6.1-inch touch-screen Entune infotainment system – with a USB input, Bluetooth connectivity and integrated rearview camera – 3-zone air conditioning, cruise control, keyless entry, and six cup holders. In addition to eight airbags, the Sienna’s standard Star Safety System includes stability and traction control, brake assist and Toyota’s Smart Stop Technology, which helps halt the vehicle even if the accelerator is depressed.

2016 Toyota Sienna: Options aplenty

Options offered: ultra-wide rear-seat entertainment system that can play two movies side by side (Blu-ray capable), power tailgate, dual front/rear moonroof, blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, 2nd-row captain’s chairs with deployable footrests, and a variety of Entune infotainment upgrades ranging from premium JBL sound to integrated apps like the new Scout GPS that enables navigation by utilizing a smartphone. There’s also: Driver Easy Speak function, which subtly amplifies the driver’s voice through the rear speakers. A radar-based pre-collision system and dynamic cruise control are available at the top of the range.

Considering it’s a minivan, the Sienna accelerated and arrived at highway speed steadily and quietly. It was surprisingly agile during U-turns, maneuvered around in tight driveways weaved past tight spot on urban city streets. The Sienna was never cumbersome.

The Sienna, like other minivans, featured high seating. It had a smaller, compact hood and thus good front and overall vision. The automatic sliding side doors (via the key fob), the tail lift and the easily sliding second row of seats further added to the vehicle’s appeal.

With its sliding doors open, the Sienna looked further cavernous. Bicycle frames will fit in the space side-to-side as will plenty of other recreational equipment not usually transported horizontally in vehicles.

Beyond the vast cargo area, the Sienna was all about comfort. Armrests are ideally placed (I’m 6’0″, 200 pounds) and offered plenty of cushion. Likewise, all rows of seating were comfortable supportive and offered plenty of legroom and headroom. The third row wasn’t as spacious as is best reserved for smaller family members. Overall, the design and technology further removed the Sienna from any remote connection to its stodgy past.

Likes: 2016 Toyota Sienna

Cavernous interior space.
Smooth, strong V6 engine.
Well-designed interior with intuitive controls.
Impressive acceleration.

Dislikes: 2016 Toyota Sienna

Second row of seating not the easiest to configure.
Gas mileage could be better.

Facts & Figures: 2016 Toyota Sienna

Acceleration: 0-60 mph. 7.5 seconds.
Airbags: 8.
Fuel economy: 16 mpg (city), 23 mpg (highway), 19 mpg (combined), six-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive.
Horsepower: 266.
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $46,410.00
Manufacturer’s Website: www.toyota.com.
Price As Tested: $49,301.00
Warranty: Bumper to bumper, 3 years/36,000 Powertrain, 5 years/60,000 miles; Corrosion, 5 years/unlimited miles.

The Weekly Driver’s Final Words on The 2016 Toyota Sienna:

“Minivans are people movers, soccer teams to families on vacations. But the Toyota Sienna gives pause. It’s a good choice for smaller families, even a family of one whose lifestyle(s) may include hauling bicycles, home project supplies or stuff acquired at garage sales.”

Read previous Toyota Sienna reviews below:

The 2013 Toyota Sienna is a versatile family van.
2013 Toyota Sienna: Practical, easy drive.
The 2015 Toyota Sienna has a refreshed exterior design.
2015 Toyota Sienna: No more stigma.
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