2018 Toyota Sienna Review

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2018 Toyota Sienna Overview

Following an engine upgrade in 2017, the Toyota Sienna receives a new front-end design for 2018, along with a number of updated tech and safety features. Now well into its third generation, which kicked off in 2011, the Sienna remains one of the country's best-selling minivans, though it's starting to show its age. This late-generation refresh gives it a sportier appearance and better tech functionality, which should help boost its appeal—especially for busy families who will also appreciate the expansive interior space, cargo versatility, decent performance, and good fuel economy.

The Sienna continues to offer seating for up to 8 passengers and remains the only minivan in the U.S. available with all-wheel drive (AWD). Those two benefits alone should keep it popular with buyers. Toyota sweetens the deal even further for 2018 with a front-end makeover that brings the Sienna more in line with the Camry sedan than a typical minivan. Whether that's a good or a bad thing depends on who you ask, but at the very least, the changes sharpen its design and help the Sienna stand out from the crowd.

The 2018 Sienna continues to be offered in 5 trims: L, LE, SE, XSE, and Limited. Its fresh new front end features a resculpted hood, a wider grille, updated fog lights, and a more aggressive-looking lower air scoop. From the front, the redesign gives the Sienna a wider, more stable look. From the sides, it certainly has a more streamlined appearance, aided by side rocker panels for improved aerodynamics that were previously unique to the mid-line SE trim. Other improvements for 2018 include a new laminated front windshield for the SE trim, which helps minimize cabin noise and vibration, and acoustic front-row side glass on the Limited trim, which reduces cabin noise even further. Buyers can choose from a total of 9 exterior colors, including 3 new options: Toasted Walnut Pearl, Alumina Jade Metallic, and Parisian Night Pearl.

In an effort to keep all passengers happy, Toyota has added a number of state-of-the-art connectivity features to the Sienna, such as USB ports for device charging across all 3 rows of seats and an updated rear-seat entertainment system, now with streaming capability for Android smartphones and tablets. All five trims, including the entry-level L, get the automaker's Entune 3.0 infotainment system with app-based navigation via Toyota's App Suite Connect. The Entune system also comes with Connected Navigation Scout GPS Link with Moving Maps, and the LE, SE, and XLE trims receive the Entune Audio Plus system with Wi-Fi Connect, which creates a 4G LTE hotspot for up to 5 devices. Unlike some of its competitors, the Sienna does not offer Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.

At the top of the Sienna lineup, the Limited trim continues to come equipped with the 9-speaker Entune 3.0 premium JBL audio system, which receives a number of upgrades for 2018. In addition to a new Dynamic Navigation and Destination feature, which receives continuous wireless updates to the onboard road database to ensure accuracy, Entune's audio system gets several sound enhancements, including Clari-Fi, which improves a recording's dynamic sound range, and Sound Staging, which better mimics the sound of live performances. In addition, a new 10.1-inch subwoofer boosts low tones throughout the cabin.

All 2018 Sienna trims now feature a 4.2-inch TFT multi-information display, which replaces the previous year's 3.5-inch LCD screen. It digitally displays the speed, tachometer, fuel gauge, and coolant temperature. In addition, the Limited trim can now be equipped with the optional new Bird’s Eye View monitor, which uses 4 cameras mounted around the vehicle to provide a panoramic view of its surroundings. The 2018 Sienna should continue to come standard with a reversing camera, 3-zone automatic climate control, and up to 12 cupholders, depending on the trim and number of seats. The SE, XLE, and Limited trims receive standard leather upholstery and heated front seats, while all trims are equipped with 60/40 “Split & Stow” third-row seats.

As in previous years, expect Toyota to offer the Sienna with a variety of upgrade packages, such as a Premium package for the Limited trim, which unlocks the available panoramic-view camera, and an Outdoor package with mudguards and a roof rack. In addition, the SE comes with a number of unique features like sport-calibrated electric power steering, a sport-tuned suspension, a sport mesh front grille, projector-beam halogen headlights and LED taillights with smoked sport trim, and underbody spoilers in the front and rear. It rides on special 19-inch wheels with a gunmetal finish.

Overall, the Sienna's dimensions and platform have not changed for 2018, nor has its cargo volume and versatility. It continues to offer seating for 8 passengers with second- and third-row bench seats or 7 with second-row captain's chairs. Seating options vary by trim, with the L and Limited offering 7-passenger seating exclusively. While some competitors come equipped with stowable second-row seats, the Sienna's second row must be removed from the vehicle for maximum cargo space. With the second row removed and third row stowed, the Sienna offers a class-leading 150 cubic feet of storage room.

An engine update in 2017 switched out the Sienna’s old 3.5-liter V6 for a new one of the same capacity but with noticeable performance improvements. Power increased from 266 to 296 hp, and torque jumped from 245 to 263 lb-ft. Along with the engine, Toyota upgraded the Sienna's transmission from a 6-speed automatic to an 8-speed automatic. The 30-hp boost in power, improved torque, and new transmission shaved 0.3 seconds off the minivan's 0-to-60 time to an even 7.0 seconds. The new engine also boasts better fuel economy, with EPA figures of 19 mpg city, 27 highway, and 22 combined (an increase of 2 mpg city and 1 mpg highway). The Sienna comes standard with front-wheel drive (FWD), but buyers can add AWD at the LE, XLE, and Limited trim levels.

On the safety front, Toyota extends its Toyota Safety Sense-P (TSS-P) suite of safety and driver-assistance features to all Sienna trims for 2018. The suite includes such cutting-edge safety technologies as automatic high beams, dynamic cruise control, lane-departure alert with steering assist, and a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection. Also standard are an advanced airbag system with a driver's knee airbag, while higher trims receive blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.

The Sienna's 2018 refresh couldn't come at a better time, as the minivan market segment continues to heat up. Even with these updates, the Sienna will continue to feel pressure from such competitors as the Honda Odyssey, which gets a complete makeover for 2018, and the fairly new Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, which can travel up to 33 miles on electric power alone and manages up to 84 mpg-e in electric/gas mode. But despite these challengers, the Sienna's reputation for holding its value and for its overall build quality, along with these 2018 updates, should keep it running with the pack until the next-generation update comes along.

Updated

Rob has been a contributor to CarGurus since 2007, and an automotive test-driver and writer since the early ’90s. He’s test-driven everything from BMWs and Jags to Bentleys and Saabs, with an occasional Range Rover, Ferrari, Porsche or Lamborghini thrown in. He also created the annual Car of the Year and Exotic Car of the Year awards for Robb Report magazine. He currently resides in California.

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