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 Marc on Thursday, July 24, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 300overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Pros: "Driving and handling are top of the line."
Cons: "Reliability is a great concern."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"With just 300 miles on my Sienna it has already been in for engine problems twice. After being in my garge only two days the entire oil content of the engine leak out on the floor. Car was towed to the dealership where the Toyota maintenance techs couldn't find a problem. The car's oil was topped off and I was then sent on my way home. To my un-surprise he next day the my minivan had created new pool of oil. On visit number two to the dealership it was determined the rear oil seal was leaking. This van has almost spent more time on tow trucks and maintenance racks as it has on the road. Other than the oil leak the Sienna drives great. Turning radius, power, and comfort are top of the line. The Sienna drives like a much smaller car."
13 people out of 25 found this review helpful
By LAWNGUYLANDER on Monday, July 21, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 4,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Its tough to get excited about a minivan, until you drive the 2014 XLE. My business partner who drives a Jaguar said'" wow what an awesome looking car" The van has more than enough horsepower to accelerate quickly. Turning radius is very tight and never gives you the impression your navigating a boat. Fit and Finish is luxury level with the XLE trim. All seats are all leather, nice cheery wood trim in the cockpit. All controls are easy to use, Almost all adjusts are power, I .e. seats, sun roof lift gate Heated seats etc. Rear power section has independent digital climate control and stick shift has a "Manual Mode" with gearing 1-6 for steep hills, ice etc. Noise level is zero, ride comfort is living room experience. Driver info system does not require programming degree and is very helpful. We chose forest green metallic with light beige interior. cool rear roof spoiler Downside? Pricey at this trim level but if you can afford it you wont be sorry."
4 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By tjrun on Friday, July 11, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 80,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Best AWD minivan"
Cons: "no automatic lift rear gate"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Perfect minivan for NH seasons. Fall wet leaves, snowy winters, muddy springs, and then there is room forall of the beach gear in the summer too"
5 people out of 10 found this review helpful
By Stewart on Thursday, July 10, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 25,012overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "great car, fun to drive, looks sharp in silver"
Cons: "drivers seat hurts my tail bone"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"You see a lot of Sienna vans out there, but there's something about the SE that catches ones eye. Much better looking than the base or LE model and even better looking than the flagship model. Leather trimmed seats let you breathe rather that sweat, the smoked head and tail lights the ground effects trim, What can I say... Its a good looking van. The coolest minivan out there."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By NowaDodge on Saturday, July 05, 2014
I owned and sold this car
Reason: dissatisfied on reliability
Pros: "Fun to drive and room"
Cons: "Expensive repairs"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 4
"We purchased the van new in fall 2010 and from the first winter we were not happy about the defrost. It seemed that the airflow was inadequate even though the dealership said it met factory specs. It would not clear and or keep the windshield clear in snow/cold weather. One day the sunroof button would need to be pressed many times to open/close. Eventually it quit working altogether and we took it to dealership. Told it would be around $1200. I was in shock and going to leave but they said there were some bulletins and took care of it:) As we started to look around at a new Toyota, in the spring of 2014, our van started making a noise. It grew worse and when we took it to dealership they informed us it was the "electro magnetic coupling" and it would be $1875 for fix. We traded it "as is" on a new Ram. We lost faith in Toyota's reliability reputation."
6 people out of 9 found this review helpful
By Renella81 on Sunday, June 22, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Back up moniter, room for my 6 ft 8 husband."
Cons: "visible antenna"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"We bought this minivan on my birthday for the extra space it afforded us. We are a family of 5 with a small dog we take with us when we go on long family trips. When I went grocery shopping and I was able to leave the back row usable I knew we had made the right choice in trading in our Highlander. My three children no longer accidentally hit cars next to us with the doors. I should also mention that my husband is 6 foot 8 and we are able to still use the seat directly behind him when he is in the car. I also love that there is an eco button; even though my husband laughs and says it is always on and it could just be a feel good light. My only complaints on this van are minimal and actually a little petty. My first complaint would have to be the antenna what kind of car has a visible antenna anymore? I also wish I had remembered to get the JBL speakers in the van, the music sounds much clearer with the JBL. We looked at so many the day we bought that I got some of them confused with each other; this explains the lack of JBL speakers and the blind spot monitor I thought ours had. I would recommend going with the Limited if you can, it actually has the most bang for your buck."
16 people out of 26 found this review helpful