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)
The base 2012 Toyota Sienna's Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starts around $26,000, while the LE starts closer to $30,000, and adding all-wheel drive ups the price by about $2,300. The feature-laden XLE starts around $34,000 while the luxury-oriented all-wheel-drive Limited tops out around $46,000 with all the options. Before you buy, be sure to check kbb.com's Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for the 2012 Toyota Sienna minivan. Remove the luxury frills and you can find a comparably equipped van from Kia for a lot less money, while family-oriented options similar to those in the Sienna can be found on the granddaddy of all minivans, the Dodge Grand Caravan. But the 2012 Toyota Sienna is expected to have a high resale value, far better than those of rivals Dodge Grand Caravan and Kia Sedona, a few points higher than the Nissan Quest, but not quite as good as the Honda Odyssey.
By Mike T (MI) on Thursday, November 14, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 30,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good value, excellent resale, surprisingly peppy!"
Cons: "Gas mileage isn't terrific, but it is as stated."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This is my wife's car and she absolutely loves it. She has had multiple 4wd SUVs before this and she tells everyone that the Sienna is her favorite car that she's ever had. The AWD does great in the winter, especially paired with snow tires. Ride is smooth and very "car-like". Interior is nicely styled for our model, especially considering it is not one of the more expensive models. The 260hp 6-cyclinder gets the van up and going quickly and merging onto a highway or into traffic is no problem!"
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By Sel (NJ) on Wednesday, October 23, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 300overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Most of today's minivans satify the user's needs. But that still sets them apart due to many reasons. Here is the easiest review. Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey are the two best minivans as of today. PERIOD. Others are just surviving due to lower pricing(Dodge/Chrysler) or Tech (Nissan Quest). For exterior looks, Sienna SE beats Odyssey by miles. It is also good looking than XLE or Limited. Coming to Drive/Handling, Sienna SE is exciting with sport tuned suspension and transmission. Odyssey is also good here. For tech features and equipments, Odyssey is better than Sienna. Seating is good on both Sienna and Odyssey. Configurations are slightly different. Please explore according to your taste. Odyssey has a better mileage than Sienna. Sienna has slightly bigger Cargo space than Odyssey. Sienna SE is priced lesser than Odyssey EX-L or Touring Overall winner is Sienna SE (Mix of both the worlds) !! Ranking (Overall with price included). This applies to 2014 model - 1. Sienna SE (with Navigation) 2. Odyssey Touring 3. Odyssey EX-L (with Navigation) 4. Sienna XLE 5. Odyssey Touring Elite 6. Sienna Limited"
10 people out of 10 found this review helpful
By Sonny (OK) on Friday, September 20, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 27,000overall rating 3 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"I have a 2011 XLE Toyota Sienna van, the wind and road noise is really bad. The backup camera is fuzzy and not clear at all. It is close to worthless. Dealerships say all the new are the same. As much as it cost, it should at least be better than a Ford. My daughter's Ford makes the Sienna's look really bad!"
18 people out of 21 found this review helpful
By Double D (Canada) on Thursday, September 05, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 35,000overall rating 3 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 3
"We previously owned 2004 Sienna LE. Loved it, so when it was time to buy a new van we purchaed 2012 Sienna LE. Toyota has certainly cut corners, compared to our 2004. The sliding doors will have an unusual "pop" sound when you pull the handle to close the sliding doors. This does not happen all the time but you will definately hear the "pop". We have a noise coming from the passenger side door near the third row, it's a "knock" that we he when we brake or when we accelerate, again it does not happen all the time, however the noise does startle you, I first thought that someone had thrown something at the van, or we hit something. Interior has a "plastic" feel to it. We will NOT be purchasing a Sienna again."
18 people out of 20 found this review helpful
By Bill C (PA) on Wednesday, August 28, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 13,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "comfortable space for passengers and cargo"
Cons: "noisy, poor mileage, poor radio and camera / nav"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I purchased my Sienna XLE AWD in late January 2013 and I now have 13,000+ miles on it. I am EXTREMELY disappointed with both the vehicle and Toyota’s response to one particular problem. The radio has a very bad echo which occurs on multiple stations but frequently on one particularly station, which just so happens to be my favorite station. It appears to be a reception related problem since I can duplicate it every time I drive certain routes. Understand that this is a local station, with very good reception, along the same routes, in every other vehicle I own, or have owned. I encountered the problem the first time I drove the vehicle and every time I drive the vehicle. The dealership has “worked” on the problem three separate times. The first two times, they told me they were able to duplicate the problem (on routes nowhere near my normal driving routes). Both times they “did some diagnostics” but were unable to fix the problem. We arranged for a third visit when they could have a Toyota district service rep available to review the problem. They kept the car for three days. At they end of the three days they told me that they had replaced the radio with a radio from another, new Sienna on their lot. It performed exactly as the original radio (with the echo). Therefore, they said, the radio was functioning as designed and there was nothing they could do to solve the problem. The dealership apologized but said that they had worked closely with Toyota and that it was Toyota’s decision. I open a claim with Toyota’s national hotline. I got a call from a very polite man who told me that he had investigated the problem. He gave me enough specifics (both specifics of the problem and the names of service personnel at the dealership) to satisfy me that he had indeed looked into it. His bottom line however, was that, although Toyota acknowledged there was a problem, the radio “was functioning as designed” and therefore they could (would) do nothing to correct it. Really?!?! I guess when you only pay $40,000+ for a vehicle, a working radio is too much to expect. I also asked the dealership (on my first checkup) to look into what I believed was extremely excessive road noise. They did look into it but before they even did so, they said it was most likely, you guessed it, functioning as designed. When I picked the car up after that appointment they told me that the noise level was “normal” for that vehicle due to a combination of wind noise from the design and road noise from the run-flat tires. That was disappointing to hear, but I understand a problem that can’t be fixed until the vehicle is redesigned. My third problem with the vehicle is with the GPS / backup camera screen. I did buy the GPS option, really to get a larger backup screen. THAT WAS A BIG MISTAKE. The screen does not have a visor and the angle of the mounting often renders it useless in bright sunlight. In addition, the “upgrade” to the larger screen for the backup camera, does not include the projection lines for that camera screen, a very useful tool I see on virtually all backup screens on 2013 vehicles. Lastly, the gas mileage is terrible. I knew going in that, with the AWD, it wouldn’t be good but I was hoping for something close to the rating of 20 -21. The actual is 17 – 18. Poor performance in my opinion for a 2013. There are definitely the positives you expect from a mini van – comfortable room for seven people, lots of cargo room, etc. However, I am very disappointed with Toyota Corp. compared to the car company I enjoyed years ago as the maker of my Avalon. That was a great car and we got great service throughout the 212,000 miles we put on her. Unfortunately, Toyota Corp. has changed and this is the last one of their cars I will purchase."
12 people out of 17 found this review helpful
By Conrad (OR) on Sunday, August 18, 2013
I owned and sold this car
Reason: Rattles, bad back seat design - My approximate mileage is 16,000
Pros: "Sienna vans run great and drives good"
Cons: "Doors Rattles, Rear seats rattles."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 3
"The Captain chairs in back are hard to get into. They tilt up to high for passengers to get into Van. Also, all the Seat Legs Rattles. The Toyota Dealer tried four times to stop the Rattles in both rear seats. The answer, "There is no fix". The said lots of customers are complaining about loud rattles in seats but there is no factory fix. So I was stuck with it? I traded my 2012 Sienna Van for a Honda Pilot. Not Happy With Toyota, I caught the Service Department in Lies."
10 people out of 13 found this review helpful