2019 Toyota Sienna Minivan Adds Fun Tweaks – AAA Auto Buying Review
The quintessential “soccer mom” vehicle entered the U.S. minivan market in 1997, and Toyota has defied conventional wisdom in an industry that typically launches major redesigns every 3-5 years.
2019 Toyota Sienna Review
For the past eight years, Toyota has managed minor changes annually for its popular Sienna minivan without a major makeover, and 2019 follows suit. For 2019, minor changes make Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa standard features and options increase in some trims.
Apple CarPlay, which is becoming increasingly popular, transports iPhone features like talking using Siri to the 7-inch touchscreen.
Alexa uses Toyota’s Entune 3.0 infotainment system to interface voice-activated Alexa features, just like it does at home. Sienna still retains a CD player.
Inside, family-oriented features include a drop-down conversation mirror to see what’s happening in rear seating rows, a moonroof, Easy Speak to talk to third row speakers,12 cupholders (six in the front row), roof rails for extra luggage and a drop-down 2nd row Blue-Ray entertainment screen with split screen capability.
All seven leather-trimmed seating positions are comfortable, including the third row for adults. Entry/exit is easy with side sliding doors and manipulatable second row chairs.
The Toyota Sienna is the only minivan offering all-wheel-drive – not making it off-road ready – but giving it traction and driver confidence on rain-slick, snowy or icy pavement when transporting precious cargo, like children.
It’s also the most powerful minivan with a V-6 engine and has the most cargo space when third row seats fold flat and captain’s chairs are removed.
We test drove the XLE, one of five trims and just below top trim Limited. It was outfitted with a Premium variant with top safety features – Sienna earned top crash scores in government crash tests – mating with Toyota’s highly touted Safety Sense-P with pedestrian detection. Premium is available, along with all-wheel-drive, in all but the base L trim.
Three drive modes – power, normal and eco – react well with the 8-speed transmission. Top Sienna trims XLE can tow 3,500 pounds. Minivans gobble gas and Sienna’s no exception.
The ride is composed with only minor road feedback on 18-inch alloy wheels wearing run-flat tires. (There is no spare. ) There is some expected lean in higher speed turns. Visibility is excellent, handling average. Road and wind noise intrudes with the radio off.
2019 Toyota Sienna
LIKES: Power, cargo space, all-wheel-drive, ride, safety/family features, reliability, versatility
DISLIKES: Gas mileage, wind/road noise, run-flat tires
BOTTOM LINE: All-wheel drive adds to already ample safety features, still competitive minivan
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Tom Crosby has written more than 1,000 automotive reviews and is a retired Vice President of Communications for AAA Carolinas. He has seen dramatic changes in the automotive industry over the past 25 years and ponders the advent of self-driving vehicles, electric only vehicles, sophisticated in-car telematics and the financial challenges facing automotive manufacturers in an increasingly congested world-wide market.