2022 Toyota Sienna - Review by Larry Nutson
Family adventure wagon
By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
THE AUTO CHANNEL
Automakers today have put significant effort into offering a wide variety of utility vehicles (UV) that American families can choose from to meet their household transportation needs. It is widely agreed that utility vehicles, from the smallest to the largest, provide lots of versatility to transport people, their things and tow various size trailers.
Minivans, once a very popular family-hauler, have fallen out of favor to a certain extent. Perhaps they’re not cool, or sexy. Perhaps they represent the soccer-mom or soccer dad image. Perhaps the lack of availability of all-wheel or four-wheel drive drew people to UVs.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic gripped all of us about 400,000 minivans were sold in the U.S. each year. You might ask: With the popularity of utility vehicles who is buying a minivan? Well! Families with children under age 12 make up a big portion of minivan buyers. Minivans are also purchased by active lifestyle empty nesters.
Today there are only four minivan models on the U.S. market. Namely, the Chrysler Pacifica, Honda Odyssey, Kia Carnival and Toyota Sienna. Over the course of the last year I have driven each of them. Each one provides very good people and cargo carrying ability as well as lots of versatility.
Minivans of today have evolved in design. They have a more refined look with more style and pizzaz. They’ve morphed to have some of the looks of a UV. There’s a longer hood, less-boxy side profile and slightly tapered rear.
I also have driven quite a number of utility vehicles that similarly offer the same benefits as a minivan. I’ve concluded, from my own experience combined with observations of my daughter who has three children age six and under, that minivans are better than UVs when it comes to certain aspects and a certain life-stage.
Minivans can seat up to eight people. Minivans have an elevated front seat position for good outward view of the road. Minivans have two very convenient power-operated sliding rear side doors. Minivans have a large power-operated rear hatch. Minivans have a low floor height for easy entry and easy loading. Minivan seats can easily be folded flat to carry large items. A minivan is much easier to maneuver compared to a 3-row UV with equivalent cargo capacity.
And when it comes to a household with three young ones, ease of entry, exit, loading and unloading of a minivan is superior to that of a utility vehicle. I won’t hesitate to say, young families with young children are better served by a minivan during a child’s early years.
Of the four minivans on the market today two of them offer all-wheel drive, namely the Chrysler Pacifica and Toyota Sienna. A hybrid engine that provides both reduced emissions and better fuel economy is standard on the Toyota Sienna. Available on the Chrysler Pacifica is an optional plug-in hybrid powertrain.
Toyota introduced the reimagined, fourth-generation Sienna for 2021 aimed at supporting a wider array of life stages and activities than the typical minivan. More luxury, multimedia and outdoors-amenable features were added. The Toyota Hybrid System II engine with 245 total system horsepower is the only engine offered. It features a 189-hp 2.5-L gasoline engine combined with a 134 kW (180 hp) electric motor. Front-wheel drive models have an EPA-estimated rating of 36 combined MPG.
All-wheel drive models add a 40 kW (54 hp) rear-mounted electric motor to drive the rear wheels. The system provides electronic on-demand all-wheel drive. This is a very efficient system that delivers EPA ratings only one mpg lower at 35 combined MPG.
The 2022 Sienna offers many premium features across the model line (depending on trim level), such as kick-open and close sliding side doors and rear hatch, four-zone climate control system, heated second-row Super-long slide captain’s chairs with ottomans, power tilt and telescoping steering column with heated steering wheel, a digital rear-view mirror, 10-in. color head-up display and 12-speaker JBL Premium Audio system.
Sienna is equipped with Toyota’s most up-to-date Advanced Driver-Assist Safety (ADAS) features that includes adaptive cruise control with lane keep assist, automatic emergency braking, and pedestrian detection with braking.
The Sienna has an 18-gallon fuel tank for theoretically more than 600 miles of driving range. Equipped with a tow hitch the Sienna has a 3500-lb. towing capability which is ideal for hauling personal watercraft, dirt bikes or ATVs.
The 2022 Sienna is offered in LE, XLE, sporty XSE, luxurious Limited and ultra-plush Platinum trims as well as a new Woodland Edition for the more adventurous who partake in weekend outdoor activities. All trims are available as front-wheel or all-wheel drive, except the Woodlands is only with all-wheel drive.
Prices for the 2022 Sienna start at $34,560 and range up to $50,760, plus a $1,215 destination fee. Look at www.toyota.com for more information.
My recent drive experience in the 2022 Sienna was in the sporty 7-passenger XSE all-wheel drive model finished in Ruby Flare Pearl ($425). Base price on this model is $42,860. Options equipped included Rear Seat Entertainment ($1,415), 1500W inverter with two 120V AC outlets ($300), XSE Plus Package ($1,000), plus a number of interior and exterior finish protective items bringing the total price including destination fee to $47,942.
While I had the Sienna winter weather was very much prevalent with very cold temps and lots of show. The Sienna with its AWD system performed well to keep me going. The largeness of the interior takes a while to warm up on a very cold day but once it does it’s quite comfortable. I appreciated the heated seats but was wanting for a heated steering wheel which is only equipped on higher trim levels. As with most hybrid’s the power is through a CVT automatic which functions to keep the engine spinning at a high RPM which does produce a droning engine sound.
I also took a road trip with the Sienna from Chicago eastward across lower Michigan to the suburbs north of Detroit. Fuel economy wasn’t the best due to higher highway speeds combined with cold weather. The Sienna average 26 to 27 mpg. While I drove, my wife was taking care of business with her laptop plugged into a 120V outlet.
Overall I found the Sienna to have nicely balanced ride and handling with the sport tuned suspension on the XSE adding a bit of firmness. Steering is well balanced and the powertrain delivers overall well-rounded and smooth performance as a family vehicle should have.
Happy motoring with the family!
© 2022 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy