2015 Toyota Sienna new car reviews

Bright red paint and aggressive body styling for a minivan shouted some sort of mix between tuner and soccer mom.

That's right, this is Grassroots Motorsports reviewing a minivan. You know, it really wasn't long ago that owning a minivan meant handing in your man card. And many of us still cling onto that perception. But recently, they've grown larger and have become much more practical. In fact, we have a few secret minivan fans here on the Grassroots Motorsports staff.

Recently, we were given a brand new Toyota Sienna to test drive for a week. Bright red paint and aggressive body styling on a minivan shouted some sort of mix between tuner and soccer mom. But how did it do? We'll refer to our resident minivan aficionado, Joe Gearin.

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Joe Gearin Joe Gearin
Associate Publisher

Pity the poor minivan. Treated with destain by most, dismissed by others as being the equivalent of vehicular "mom jeans". Their capability, economy, and versatility are unmatched, yet they are still the Rodney Dangerfields of the automotive world. It's really not fair.

I love minivans. I think so highly of them that I actually purchased a brand new one recently. Mock me if you want, but sometimes sensible shoes are the best fit.

As a minivan aficionado, I was curious to see how this new Toyota Sienna stacked up to my humble Chrysler Grand Caravan. I had plopped down my hard-earned cash for my van, so I was hoping it would fare well against its competition. Fortunately, it did.

While the Toyota has a smoother, more refined engine, and is noticeably quieter going down the road, it isn't all peaches and cream. The Toyota's interior is less intuitive to use, it's seating less versatile, and get this, the Toyota's MSRP starts at around $29,000—our tester was just over $40,000. For comparison, a base Grand Caravan costs just above $21,000. Both machines are similarly equipped, so why the huge disparity?

Is the Toyota a better machine than the Dodge? Well mechanically, perhaps. It doesn't drive any better, it doesn't look any better, and it's lack of Stow and Go makes the interior less useful. If history is any guide, the Toyota will hold up better over time, but how much is the legend of Toyota reliability worth?

I'll take my chances with the Dodge. It may lack some of the flash of the Sienna, but it also lacks the styling weirdness and inflated sticker price. Also, even though our tester had every bell and whistle conceivable, it didn't feel plush or luxurious. It felt like an appliance in a fancy package. I'd rather have my sensible shoes come in a plain wrapper and spend my extra dough on more entertaining things.

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Alleycat10 New Reader
6/28/15 9:25 a.m.

If you have a handicapped passenger needing an Auto Access Seat, the Sienna LE or XLE is the best choice. No other minivan manufacturer offers this factory-installed option. It adds about $5750 to the cost of the vehicle. I shopped other brands, the proposal for all of them being a retrofit reusing the original right rear second row set, costing about $9300. With the factory installation comes full integration with the vehicle and a seat that looks good in the vehicle and carries the 36 month Toyota warranty.

procker Reader
6/28/15 10:45 a.m.

Wait...is it the new off road sienna?

daytonaer HalfDork
6/28/15 11:55 a.m.

The sienna is currently the only minivan available with optional AWD.

This is a picture I took of the rear diff, with a skid plate...

Buying new and spending your own money, I agree, you need to want a Toyota.

failboat UltraDork
6/28/15 11:59 a.m.

These guys love the new siennas.


Esoteric Nixon
Esoteric Nixon SuperDork
6/28/15 4:25 p.m.

Will there ever be a point in time when we stop calling these 'mini'vans?

Wally MegaDork
6/28/15 4:30 p.m.

I think the correct term now is "loser cruiser"

m4ff3w UltraDork
6/28/15 11:43 p.m.
Esoteric Nixon wrote: Will there ever be a point in time when we stop calling these 'mini'vans?


failboat UltraDork
6/29/15 6:50 a.m.

Maxi vans are 15 passenger vans.

Duke MegaDork
6/29/15 11:25 a.m.
failboat wrote: Maxi vans are 15 passenger vans.

AKA "illegal immigrant killers".

Woody MegaDork
6/29/15 11:37 a.m.


Rusted_Busted_Spit UberDork
6/29/15 1:19 p.m.

In reply to Woody:

That is something else entirely.

8/19/15 8:35 p.m.

Minivans are a very economical (i.e. operating cost) alternative to a full-size van for hauling lots of stuff if you can fold-down or remove the seats. Unfortunately, in this latest iteration of the Sienna, when the middle seats are removed (the rear seats fold into the floor), two seat carriages (over an inch high) remain attached to the tracks mounted in the floor. This is a serious deficiency, which is the reason I recently bought a Honda Odyssey.

92dxman Dork
8/20/15 2:58 p.m.

I like the concept of mini vans but they have just gotten so darn gigantic these days. The Transit Connect and Ram Pro Master City appeal to me more.

turbo_gremlin None
8/23/15 9:41 p.m.

This isn't a review. It's someone trying to convince themselves they made the right move by buying a Chrysler product. As a previous poster mentioned, if you want AWD, it's the only game in town. Can't swallow spending 40 large on a minivan, buy a certified one. It'll still outlast the Chrysler and be worth more when you're done with it.

My review: It's a van. It's a Toyota. The nav/entertainment system sucks monkey balls. That is all.

Boost_Crazy Reader
8/23/15 11:19 p.m.

My wife drives a 2014 Sienna. For us there were only two choices- the Sienna and the Odyssey. We didn't even look at the Caravan for one simple reason. As much as I like the Stow N Go, it only has 7 seats. While more flexible in theory, in practice with 3 kids, the 8 seater is more useful. Not only can it haul one more person, but if needed, I can fold down the rear seats and still fit the three kids in the middle.

fidelity101 SuperDork
8/24/15 8:26 a.m.

How do you like the tail lamps? I worked on that project :)


alfadriver UltimaDork
8/24/15 8:35 a.m.
daytonaer wrote: The sienna is currently the only minivan available with optional AWD.

Only if one defines a mini-van as a box with a sliding door.

pinchvalve MegaDork
8/24/15 8:38 a.m.

The Ford Econoline was a Full Sized van in the 1960's. The Sienna is 15" longer, 3" wider and on a wheelbase that is almost 20" longer.

Compared to the only traditional domestic van still on sale (Sorry Nissan) the Siennas wheelbase is 16" shorter, but only 24" shorter overall and only an inch narrower. Only 4" shorter too. Not too mini indeed!

ebonyandivory UltraDork
8/24/15 9:15 a.m.
Duke wrote:
failboat wrote: Maxi vans are 15 passenger vans.

AKA "illegal immigrant killers".

That rolls off the tongue unlike "undocumented worker killer".

drainoil Reader
8/30/15 12:06 p.m.

Agreed there is nothing "mini" about minivans today. But these vans, and even their "full sized" predecessors are arguably the most versatile all around use type of vehicle design ever. The ultimate motorized appliance.

ryanty22 Dork
8/30/15 12:35 p.m.

I work at a Toyota dealer and see these constantly, they're good vans the only issue I've had with them that was a real pain in the butt was on some of the ones a couple years old the parking brake which is a drum in disc design. The pins break essentially jamming the rotor on the hub and it's a pain to remove. Most of the time the designed way of getting the rotor off doesn't work when this has happened so it's time to bring out the 3 lb toyota fine adjustment tool to get the rotor off

1988RedT2 PowerDork
8/30/15 7:50 p.m.

Just back from North Carolina where the family and I spent a week and a tad over 1000 miles in a 2015 Toyota Sienna. Yes, it's big. It's also very comfy, quiet, and big. It's big, but it still manages about 25 mpg in mostly interstate driving. Try as we might, all of our stuff for a week, three sets of golf clubs, tackle box, fishing poles, big cooler--we could not fill up the back. Not nearly as easy to park as my MPV, but in it's defense, the turning circle seems impressively small for a vehicle as long as this. Straight-line go is certainly adequate, as were the brakes when called upon. I'm in no hurry to replace the MPV, but the Sienna is one of only two vehicles that I would consider at this point. The other being the Odyssey, natch.

Pbw New Reader
8/30/15 8:19 p.m.

For kid hauling I don't ever see myself paying thirty five thousand dollars for a nice loaded Sienna. Kids just trash cars, they don't mean to it just happens, like vomiting up spaghetti on the way home from school.

1988RedT2 PowerDork
9/1/15 4:04 p.m.

In reply to Pbw:

I get that, but stuff cleans up pretty well. I got my MPV brand new in '05 when my kids were 2 months old and 2 years old. They hit it pretty hard, but today, if I give it a good vacuuming and pull the Legos out of the seats, it still looks pretty darn okay after ten years of abuse. The interior has held up very well.

Jaynen Dork
9/1/15 7:25 p.m.

We bought a 5 yr old Odyssey. Its nice. I liked it a little better than my Sister in Laws similarly aged Sienna but our Odyssey was better equipped.

New for new I prefer the Sienna. Thanks to the ECO mode cylinder deactivation etc Ive gotten 28 highway which is pretty good for a big vehicle filled with people and stuff.

pinchvalve MegaDork
9/1/15 9:01 p.m.

The Kia Sedona is showing up on some rental lots. I hope I can grab one to compare to the Sienna I had this summer, which I liked a lot. Better than the Grand Caravan that broke and stranded me.

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