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2020 Toyota Sienna: A sporty minivan?


Can a minivan be sporty? The 2020 Toyota Sienna SE certainly looks the part and we put it to work recently on a Florida Disney holiday trip to see just how well we would like it. Turns out, it is a winner.

The Sienna remains a solid performer for Toyota even in a down market for minivans. With its AWD capability, entry and luxury-like interiors depending on trim level and its overall record of great reliability, it is easy to see why families opt for it over other brands.

For the SE, Toyota has added some sporty features while keeping the easy to use nature of the van. First, Toyota adds 18-inch, 6-spoke gunmetal-finished alloy wheels with 235/55/R18 tires along with blacked out badges on the rear. Along with the $700 optional Nightshade Edition with its black sport mesh front grille, black spoiler, black mirror caps and the aforementioned black badges, it certainly doesn’t look like a slow family hauler.

Inside the cabin, the SE comes bathed in a black color palette with literally every conceivable item donning some sort of black color. This not only adds to the sporty-like feel of the vehicle, it is pretty handy as well since it hides messes and helps make the cabin seem cleaner even after the kids ransack it.

Behind the wheel, the driver’s position is ideal for nearly every body type and visibility is pretty much perfect. Along with the easy entry/exit of all the doors, for kids and adults, the Sienna is an easy choice for best vehicle with accessibility.

In the second row, the Sienna is offered with either a 7 or 8 seat configuration due to choosing either the sliding captain’s chairs (upwards of 23 inches of room) or a bench setup complete with four latch locations for securing child seats.

If you need more cargo room, you can remove all the seats and create basically a covered truck bed interior setup. Or the third-row seats can be split and stowed for more cargo space. However, it isn’t like you need more space, the Sienna’s sliding seats, moving storage tray and ample rear cargo room even with the third-row seats upright (Toyota says it can store 5 golf bags), never had us concerned about lack of storage space.

Powering the Sienna is a modest 3.5L V6 mated to an 8-speed transmission. This powertrain certainly doesn’t feel sporty, however, it does provide the necessary power to get you and your family moving. Along with a quiet, slightly sport ride thanks to the SE’s sport-tuned, the Sienna can still tow upwards of 3,500 pounds with the standard tow prep package. This makes it even more usable while returning a pretty decent 19/27 city/highway fuel economy.

Finally, the Sienna comes with a slew of standard safety features and the touchscreen infotainment screen with Toyota’s Entune multimedia system, really adds to the vehicle. You can plug in to one of the myriad of USB ports, opt for the Entune 3.0 Premium JBL system and add the rear seat DVD screen with Android streaming capability to really top off the family driving experience. Plus, if that isn’t enough, there is a driver’s voice enhancer button helpful for getting the kids back in line without screaming and looking like a manic in traffic.

The Indiana built Sienna exceeded our needs and we couldn’t really find anything to fault it even though we tried. It is a minivan after all and while Europe and Asia still are in love with this kind of vehicle, it has become passe in the United States. Unfortunately, that’s pretty unfair since many consumers are missing out on a pretty damn good vehicle.

Pricing starts at $31,640 and can top off into the $50ks for the highest trim level.

Tim Esterdahl

Automotive Journalist Tim Esterdahl has been a lover of trucks and SUVs for years. He has covered the industry since 2011 and has pieces in many national magazines and newspapers. In his spare time, he is often found tinkering on his '62 C10 pickup, playing golf, going hunting and hanging out with his wife and kids in Nebraska.

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