What’s New for 2016
Siri Eyes Free functionality for iPhone users is standard across the board. Certain models also get the Scout GPS Link app, which displays smartphone navigation on the central display.
For sensible family transportation, you can’t do much better than the 2016 Toyota Sienna. One of the best minivans in the business, it offers seating for eight and class-exclusive available all-wheel drive. Overall, the Sienna effortlessly holds its own against its fellow top-rated minivans, the Honda Odyssey and Kia Sedona.
The Sienna was significantly refreshed last year, and we took special notice of the heavily revised interior that featured more user-friendly center stack controls. They’re located closer to the driver than before, and the climate controls are easier to understand and use. Toyota also substantially improved interior materials quality, making the van seem like you’re truly getting your money’s worth.
Delivering a comfortable ride has always been a Sienna high point, and last year’s structural and suspension improvements make it ride and handle even better than before. And if you want a minivan that feels less like a minivan, the SE version boasts sharper steering and a more controlled suspension. It’s definitely not sporty, but it’s one of the best of its kind to drive. We also appreciate that unlike in the past, the SE is available with most of the creature comforts found on other Sienna trims. As such, it’s the one we’d most recommend.
As agreeable as the 2016 Toyota Sienna is, however, it’s wise to check out the handful of other choices. The 2016 Honda Odyssey is the most direct rival, with similar pricing and a few exclusive features of its own. Top value can be found with the 2016 kia Sedona, which gives up little (if anything) to the Honda and Toyota, while costing less. All of the above also offer seating for eight passengers. If you can make do with seven seats, consider the funky and efficient 2016 Nissan Quest, but we would steer clear of the aging 2016 chrysler Town and Country and its Dodge Grand Caravan sibling.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2016 Toyota Sienna minivan comes in five main trim levels: base L, LE, SE, XLE and Limited. The SE, XLE and Limited are further available in “Premium” sub-trims. The LE and XLE come in seven- and eight-passenger configurations; the L and Limited versions are seven-passenger only and the SE is eight-passenger only. All trims come standard with front-wheel drive, but the LE, XLE and Limited also can be had with all-wheel drive.
The Sienna L includes 17-inch alloy wheels, a windshield wiper de-icer, manual sliding rear doors, automatic headlights, cruise control, tri-zone automatic climate control, a height-adjustable driver seat, cloth upholstery, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a rearview camera, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, Siri eyes free functionality for iPhone users and a four-speaker sound system with a 6.1-inch touchscreen, CD player, a USB port, a media player interface and an auxiliary audio jack.
The LE adds roof rails, power-sliding side doors, privacy glass, heated mirrors, body-color exterior trim (replacing black plastic), floor- and overhead-mounted consoles, a conversation mirror, an eight-way power driver seat (with power lumbar support), upgraded “easy-clean” fabric upholstery, second- and third-row sunshades, a 7-inch touchscreen, compatibility with the Scout GPS link app, and a six-speaker sound system with HD and satellite radios. All-wheel-drive versions get 18-inch wheels.
The SE is equipped similarly to the LE but adds a sport-tuned suspension, sharper steering, 19-inch alloy wheels, a unique front fascia (foglights, LED daytime running lights and mesh grille) and lower-body skirting. The SE also has a power liftgate, first- and second-row perforated leather upholstery (row three gets leatherette premium vinyl), heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and unique gauges with a larger driver information screen.
The SE Premium adds a sunroof, keyless ignition and entry, blind-spot and rear-cross-traffic warning systems, a navigation system, Entune smartphone app integration, a rear-seat entertainment system (with HDMI and SD card inputs, a Blu-ray/DVD player, two 120-volt power outlets and a large screen that can be split to display two different sources) and the Driver Easy Speak system, which amplifies the driver’s voice through the rear speakers. A sunroof can be added separately.
The Sienna XLE shares many of the SE trim’s comfort and convenience equipment, but features similar suspension, steering and styling to the LE. It also adds a four-way power front passenger seat, faux-wood trim, power-opening rear quarter windows and keyless ignition and entry. The XLE Premium adds the SE Premium’s features and rear parking sensors. The XLE Navigation package includes the same items minus the rear entertainment and blind-spot/cross-traffic warning systems.
The plush Limited includes the XLE Premium’s features (minus the rear-seat entertainment system) along with 18-inch alloy wheels, a different grille, LED daytime running lights, auto-dimming and power-folding mirrors, front and rear sunroofs, front and rear parking sensors, first- and second-row premium leather upholstery, driver memory settings, a heated steering wheel, Toyota Safety Connect Emergency services, a navigation system and an upgraded 10-speaker JBL surround-sound audio system. FWD powertrains also get a sliding center console between the first two rows, extendable footrests for the second row and a power-folding third row with upgraded leatherette upholstery.
To all that, the Limited Premium adds xenon headlights, automatic high beams, automatic wipers, the rear-seat entertainment system and upgraded leatherette for the third row (AWD only).
For the front-wheel-drive Sienna Limited only, an Advanced Technology package adds adaptive cruise control and a forward collision warning system.
Powertrains and Performance
Every 2016 Toyota Sienna comes with a 3.5-liter V6 engine that delivers 266 horsepower and 245 pound-feet of torque and drives the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. The Sienna LE, XLE and Limited models can also be equipped with all-wheel drive.
In Edmunds instrumented testing, a front-drive Sienna LE went from zero to 60 mph in a swift 7.5 seconds. The EPA fuel economy estimates come in at 21 mpg combined (18 city/25 highway) for front-wheel-drive versions. Opting for all-wheel drive drops those estimates to 19 mpg combined (16/23).
Antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, a driver-side knee airbag, a front passenger seat cushion airbag, active front head restraints and a rearview camera are standard on all 2016 Toyota Sienna models.
A blind-spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert and front and rear parking sensors are available depending on the trim level. The Limited can be had with a forward collision warning system.
At our test track, a Sienna Limited stopped from 60 mph in 126 feet, which is about average for the minivan segment.
In government crash tests, the 2016 Toyota Sienna received a five-star rating for overall performance, with four stars for total frontal crash protection and five stars for total side crash protection. In tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Sienna earned a top score of “Good” for its performance in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact, roof-strength tests and head restraint (whiplash protection) design. It received the second highest rating of “Acceptable” in the IIHS test for small-overlap frontal-crash protection.
Interior Design and Special Features
Lower trim levels of the Sienna are attractively decked out with high-quality fabric upholstery, while higher-end models get leather along with simulated wood cabin accents. Materials quality is very good, and the dash design is modern and attractive. Seating is plush, and there’s abundant storage space along with user-friendly controls.
On the electronics front, every Sienna comes with a touchscreen interface. Both available screens feature a similar easy-to-decipher menu structure with surrounding buttons that require little effort to jump from one main function to another. These include utilizing the built-in navigation system or a suite of smartphone-connected services, including Scout GPS Link. There’s also the available rear-seat entertainment system, which features a split-screen monitor that allows two different media (a movie on one side and a video game on the other, for example) to play simultaneously, thereby making it easier to quash at least one potential sibling argument.
The eight-passenger Sienna comes with a 40/20/40-split second-row bench, and its center section slides close to the front seats for easier access to the little one seated there. It can also be removed and stowed within the van itself (unlike the Odyssey’s, where you must find a place for it elsewhere).
With a seven-passenger Sienna, you get specialized second-row captain’s chair Although their available extendable footrests will likely catch your eye during a test-drive, you’ll also likely be impressed by their ability to slide much farther fore or aft than most competitors can manage, increasing sprawl-out comfort or cargo space. Maximum cargo space stands at 150 cubic feet, though to achieve this you have to remove the second-row seats, which are quite heavy and awkward to remove.
We’ve long been impressed by the Sienna’s V6 engine and how it delivers lively acceleration whether you’re bopping around town running errands or getting up to cruising speed on the freeway. The six-speed automatic transmission does a great job of keeping the engine’s thrust on tap, yet the Sienna still manages to provide respectable fuel economy, provided you’re not too aggressive with the gas pedal.
All versions offer competent handling, and the Sienna’s plush ride quality is more controlled than in past, floaty versions. Still, the SE’s firmer suspension (a relative term) provides more confidence around turns and greater body control over big bumps and undulations without giving up an appreciable amount of comfort. Its marginally heavier steering is also more natural than the slightly numb calibration on other trims. If you’re used to driving a car, the SE should make the switch to a minivan a bit easier.