Still the Champions of Practicality
1st Place – 2014 Toyota Sienna SE
Swaggering its way into first place is the Toyota Sienna. Yes this is the Sienna SE, better known as the swagger wagon, a term made famous by a rapping Toyota television commercial four years ago. This is also the most expensive vehicle in the test coming in at a price of $34,720 after destination charges.
But its high price doesn’t automatically mean this is the best minivan. The Sienna lost points in scoring and the SE trim is basically an appearance package that does makes the Sienna look mildly meaner, but does nothing to make it more capable. In fact, it might have actually hurt the van. The SE includes a sport tuned suspension and 19-inch wheels that ruins the ride quality while returning nothing remotely resembling a sporty driving experience.
SEE ALSO: 2011 Toyota Sienna: First Drive
So how did it win? Everything else about this van is great. We found it to be the easiest to drive and despite power from the 3.5-liter V6 only being rated at 266 hp and 245 lb-ft of torque, the Sienna felt every bit as responsive as the more powerful Grand Caravan. Officially rated at 18 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway, the Sienna was the only vehicle in our test that couldn’t match its EPA city rating during our test loop. Despite that, with an average of 17.4 MPG, the Toyota still did beat the Dodge.
Even if it wasn’t as feature heavy as the Grand Caravan, the Sienna did come with two test exclusive options: a sunroof and automatic three-zone climate control. The interior design was also voted as best in test and features nicer hard plastics than the other two. All the switch gear is laid out in a logical fashion and the front seat was the most comfortable of the bunch.
The second row seats were easily the best as well. They are the most comfortable and offer the greatest flexibility in sliding forward and back. That versatility can make these seats a particularly nice place if there are no third row passengers as the seat can be slid all the way back, giving passengers limo-like legroom.
Large Cargo Hold
The third row can’t quite rival the Odyssey in terms of space, but comfort is right up there. The cargo area behind these seats is huge and ties the Odyssey in our double-wide stroller test. Dropping the third row seats is easiest of the bunch, requiring the fewest steps and the least amount of effort.
Aside from the somewhat rough ride, our only issue with Sienna was a small display screen that rendered the back-up camera virtually useless. If it were our money, we would opt for the similarly priced XLE Sienna which would lose the cool SE look, but gain a softer ride and more minivan-important options like a power passenger seat, power third row windows and leather seats.
Toyota really has taken all the aspects minivan owners cherish and engineered them into a wholly competent vehicle. If adult passengers won’t routinely be seated in the third row and the van doesn’t have to double as a cube truck on weekends, look no further. The Sienna’s emphasize on the first two rows of passengers and rearward cargo space makes it the best all-around minivan on the market today.
- PRICE AS TESTED: $34,720
- ENGINE: 3.5-liter V6, 266 hp, 245 lb-ft
- TRANSMISSION: Six-Speed Automatic
- OBSERVED FUEL ECONOMY: 17.4 MPG
- CARGO CAPACITY (behind second row): 87.1 cu. Ft.