By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 8.1
Toyota can't claim to have invented the minivan – we have Chrysler to thank for that – but they certainly have improved on the formula. The 2012 Toyota Sienna minivan is a pretty big people-mover filled with cool and innovative features. Actually, there is nothing "mini" about this minivan, having grown last year in size and complexity to better take on longtime rival, the Honda Odyssey. Where the Sienna was once always a step behind the Honda, the 2012 Toyota Sienna minivan is now fully loaded for battle, with a powerful V6 engine, a huge cabin area and something no other minivan in the segment offers: available all-wheel drive. There is also a 4-cylinder engine option for those who need to keep the bottom line as low as possible, as well as a Mobility Package and a cargo van trim. The Sienna competes in a crowded field that includes the upscale Chrysler Town & Country, the low-cost Kia Sedona and radically styled Nissan Quest.
If you want the latest and greatest on your next minivan purchase, the 2012 Toyota Sienna minivan is hard to beat. From its leg-rest-equipped reclining second-row seats to the split-screen entertainment system that allows the kids to watch two separate programs simultaneously, the Sienna never fails to delight. It's also the only minivan to offer the option of all-wheel drive.
If you're all about having a loaded minivan, but you don't want to spend the $46K Toyota is asking for theirs, you might find the Kia Sedona or Dodge Caravan a better choice. Then again, you must remember that while the Kia and Dodge are less expensive up front, they don't hold their value nearly as well as the 2012 Toyota Sienna.
Fresh from its 2011 debut, the 2012 Toyota Sienna minivan receives a few upgrades on the XLE trim, which now includes a power passenger seat and auto on/off headlights.
Driving Impressions The 2012 Toyota Sienna offers a choice between a fuel-thrifty 2.7-liter 4-cylinder and a gutsy 3.5-liter V6 engine. Both engines serve the Sienna well, with the 4-cylinder providing plenty of...power for getting around. Unfortunately, when the Sienna is loaded with passengers and cargo, the 4-cylinder just doesn't have the added reserves required for rapid passing and merging maneuvers. The 3.5-liter V6, on the other hand, is more than up to the task, dishing out 266-horsepower while attaining better highway fuel economy than the less-potent 4-cylinder engine. Power for both engines is managed by a smooth-shifting ECT 5-speed automatic transmission. Base and LE trims have a suspension tuned to deliver a soft, almost floating ride most occupants will find quite pleasing. But, for the occupant in the driver's seat, it's the SE trim's sport-tuned suspension and recalibrated power steering setup that makes driving the 2012 Toyota Sienna minivan a more engaging experience.
Second Row Lounge Seating
The 2012 Toyota Sienna XLE's Lounge Seating offers a Long-Slide feature maximizing legroom, while footrests rise up, virtually transforming the second-row seats into Barcaloungers.
Dual View Entertainment Center
The 2012 Toyota Sienna minivan's Dual View Entertainment Center features two wireless headphones and an extra-wide screen that allows two different movies to play at once. Or in those few families in which the kids agree, one movie can play CinemaScope-style. You'll almost feel like you're watching your flatscreen at home.
Unlike some minivans that force a pricey move up the trim ladder to get the options you desire, the 2012 Toyota Sienna minivan offers a wide range of models, most with a healthy options list. With its 2-row bench seats, the 2012 Toyota Sienna minivan can seat up to eight people, but can also be outfitted with second-row Captain's Chair seating if the number seven equals a full complement. There is ample head and legroom in all three rows, the one exception being when the lounge-chair-style seats are in full recline mode essentially consuming the third-row seat's legroom. A common feature on most minivans is a stowable third-row seat and the 2012 Toyota Sienna minivan is no exception. We did find, however, that the Sienna's third-row seat was not as easy to operate as on the Honda Odyssey, leading us to strongly recommend opting for the available power-folding seat option. With the second-row seats removed and third-row seats folded flat, there is a vast flat cargo floor. The second-row seats can also be partially folded or slid forward to allow for a combination of passengers and cargo space.
With hints of styling influenced by Toyota's Venza crossover SUV, the 2012 Toyota Sienna minivan wears a new face that is both elegant and original (something previous Sienna minivans sorely lacked.) Subtle details, such as the side-door guide rail carefully hidden at the base of the rear quarter window, and the integrated rear hatch spoiler, abound. For a minivan, the 2012 Toyota Sienna has a rather muscular appeal, with sculpted fender flares, a curvaceous front end, and sporty alloy wheels all adding a youthful touch. Although the 2012 Toyota Sienna minivan is about the same length as the last-generation 2010 Sienna, it is much wider and has shorter front and rear overhangs.
The base 2012 Toyota Sienna minivan comes with an MP3-capable CD player with auxiliary input jack, remote keyless entry, dual-sliding doors with power windows, and tri-zone manual air conditioning. Opting for the LE trim adds steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, power sliding doors and a HomeLink universal transceiver. The SE trim adds its own sport-tuned suspension and steering, leather-trimmed steering wheel and an 8-way power leatherette driver's seat. Moving up to the XLE nets you a 6-speaker stereo with a USB port and iPod connectivity, automatic tri-zone climate control, leather and wood-grain interior trim, a power passenger seat, and heated seats. The upscale Limited adds a JBL sound system, lounge second-row seating, and a power-folding 60/40 third row. All trims offer Toyota's STAR Safety System, airbags for all three rows, plus the XLE features front and rear sonar, which is not for submarine chasing but a parking assist.
Options on the 2012 Toyota Sienna minivan vary by trim and include a choice of 4- or 6-cylinder engines, all-wheel drive (AWD), roof rails, dual-power sliding doors, power seats, Bluetooth connectivity, tri-zone automatic climate control and a power rear hatch. A Dual-View Entertainment Center with wireless headphones is available on XLE and Limited models. The Limited can also be equipped with a Navigation Package, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control and rain-sensing wipers.
Two engines are offered in the 2012 Toyota Sienna: a fuel-efficient 2.7-liter 4-cylinder engine that offers decent off-the-line acceleration and a hearty 3.5-liter V6 with plenty of torque, quiet operation and fuel economy that is remarkably similar to the 4-cylinder's. If you want all-wheel drive, the V6 is your lone choice.
2.7-liter in-line 4
187 horsepower @ 5,800 rpm
186 lb-ft of torque @ 4,100 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/24
266 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm
245 lb-ft of torque @ 4,700 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/25 (FWD), 17/23 (AWD)
By mpe on Monday, March 23, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 34,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Comfortable, reliable. Fun to drive"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"This minivan met all of my expectations. It is reliable and comfortable. I would not change anything about this vehicle."
By pat on Friday, March 20, 2015
I don't own this caroverall rating 3 of 10rating details
Pros: "poor second row seats"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Seats for second row passengers are very difficult to get in to, and because the front of the seats are tilted up, do not sat well. I had a 2006 toyota van,and it had far more comfortable second row seats. I don't understand why the change,since this vehicile is eight years newer. I am considering looking at the a Honda van this spring.Very unhappy with this vehicile. Called toyota, but their seems to, be no way to cheange this mess. I am buying this vehicile through toyota.Also brakes are not as firm as my old van and have to much travel. Checked with dealer. I was told they are all like that."
2 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By David Towers on Thursday, March 12, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 10,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "lots of space, good acceleration, nice design"
Cons: "heat does not warm up quickly"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"Great car. Great acceleration with the V6 engine. So convenient and comfortable for the entire family. I think it's an expensive vehicle but it has a nice design, inside and out so I guess you're paying for quality. The sportier SE model is pretty sharp looking. The trunk and the way it opens is fantastic and there's lots of space inside. LOTS! The rear camera is a nice touch but it's missing a sensor that beeps when you get close to something. Why Toyota failed to add this, I do not know. Dashboard design and stereo are great, it pumps out good quality audio - be sure to adjust the bass and treble. Overall, if you need comfort and space, this is a great family vehicle."
5 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By grandpa on Monday, March 09, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 24,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "confortable heavy ride. 27 MPG"
Cons: "Made in USA. Engine noise at 3k rpm"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Great van, my last toyota has 425k and still runs.quality is good enough since is built in USA,but will not match Japanese quality. roomy and confortable, fun to drive and it fits the whole family. cruzes at 2100 rpm and gets 27 mpg on the highway,25 conbined.it has the 2.7 4 cyl and it can climb hills at 70mph,thats when the engine noise is noticeble because it downshifts end rpm raise to about 3700. My overall rating is 9.5 and strongly recomend any toyota vehicle"
4 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By Pitt1991 on Saturday, March 07, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,500overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Transmission shifting, Touch Screen radio"
Cons: "None so far."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have owned two Chrysler Town and Country Mini Vans and thought they were great vehicles until I drove my new Sienna. What a difference. This vehicle rides better and I no longer have the noisy power steering pump that Chrysler says is normal. My steering wheel isn't shaking (shortly after purchase) from the defective rotors Chrysler likes to use. We have also started to have problems with the Chrysler vans after about 60,000 miles replacing coil packs on the engine and sliding door problems. I can't stress enough how much nicer the Toyota van is overall. The only thing Chrysler has is the stow and go but it's not worth having for the few times we used it. (All the seats in the floor.) The Sienna transmission is far superior. Can't even feel it when the transmission shifts. Our Chrysler vans would sometimes clunk and of course Chrysler would say that's normal. I do however miss my automatic high beams but that's a minor option to do without. If your torn between the two I would suggest the Toyota but if you get the Chrysler make sure you get the extended warranty for as long as you want to keep the van."
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By Family Guy on Tuesday, February 17, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 57,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Convenience (long-slide seats) comfort, cargo cap."
Cons: "3rd row headroom is low for a 6' tall man"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Drives excellent, extremely comfortable, handles securely in all weather (including ice & snow). Tons of cargo capacity (carried an 8 foot Christmas tree inside with no problem, and also enough luggage (clothes and toys plus a travel crib) and personal belongings for a cross-country move with 5 people and a cat), major convenience - the long-sliding seats really let us customize the interior layout for different #'s of passengers and kids car seats. The fold-down screen for the DVD player doesn't block the rear-view, and the second row sunroof makes a really comfortable, open feeling cabin for the 2nd and 3rd row passengers. Our kid's friends and their parents are all saying they wish they had purchased one like ours instead of theirs. We have near Mercedes-Benz level luxury, the stability of a tank, and the practicality and ease of entry of this minivan, all for about $30k less than a luxury brand mid-size SUV. All in all, we couldn't be happier!"
10 people out of 16 found this review helpful