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 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!"
6 people out of 10 found this review helpful
By Lee on Sunday, February 08, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 36,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "ride comfort, fit and finish"
Cons: "uncomfortable seats on long trips"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"Toyota builds great cars but they are not exciting cars, You aren't going to get a thrill from driving a Toyota but you will get your moneys worth, but people are not ever going to say "Wow there goes a Toyota!" I would recommend this vehicle if you have a family to haul around. We bought it to travel and it steers really well and rides nice but the Japanese have a problem with comfortable seats. Your butt can get sore on long trips. If you are a big person don't buy this vehicle. Otherwise it is really a good choice."
22 people out of 48 found this review helpful
By Joez on Saturday, January 10, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 21,500overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Comfort, room, reliability, value,"
Cons: "Back up camera."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Full disclosure, I am a loyal Toyota vehicle, of one kind or another, owner for over 30 years. Although I am never likely to ever get a "great deal", I buy them primarily because they have proven to me to be so reliable, inexpensive to maintain and have an awesome resale value. I buy new and used. That being said, we purchased a new 2012 Toyota Sienna LE, 8 passenger, FW, for traveling to visit our children in New Jersey, DC and Chicago form Erie, Pa.. This van is so comfortable to drive over longs trips. The driver side more than accommodates my long legs. The front captain seats are extra wide. My wife always says she feels like she is sitting in our living room, as she crosses her legs while doing her nails during our trips. The middle 2 captain chairs area provide even more leg/living room. We have frequently used all 8 seats and no one seems to be cramped. The back cargo area, when we fold the 3rd row seats, unfortunately enables my wife's and my overpacking bad habit. It is huge. I do take constant and accurate mpg readings on our trips. We do get 24-25 mpg's all the time at around 72 mph. City is never more than 18 mpg, and often less. But what would you expect from driving a large vehicle from stop light to stop light. My only real complaint is that the rear view camera is not very useful for backing up. It's only purpose is to let the driver know there in no one or nothing behind you. I understand the camera in the 2015's is a true back up camera. Overall, this is an excellent van for room, comfort, reliability and value. BTW, for a minivan it also looks pretty sharp. Swagger Wagon!!"
30 people out of 57 found this review helpful
By luvmnks on Wednesday, January 07, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 30,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "comfortably seats eight with plenty of hip and leg"
Cons: "Just 15 MPG in city driving"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Had the most amount of trunk area after third row to fit a power wheelchair with a lift while all 8 chairs up.Was very comfortable on a week long 3000 mile trip as I am prone to sore back on other cars after couple of hours. Drives comfortably and noiselessly. Accelerates spiritedly considering the size. Windshield cracked around 27000 miles, possibly hit by road debris. Just had to replace it."
3 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By Ithar on Saturday, December 06, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 17,000overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Pros: "Power, folding seats, comfort, backup camera"
Cons: "MPG, interior quality, back seats, RATTLES"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I have the 8-Passenger LE model. Though the Sienna has been extremely reliable for the 17k miles I have owned it, I have quite a few gripes. First, I have never seen the advertised fuel mileage under any driving conditions. I was a little concerned that it was not only rated at worse fuel economy than the Honda, but also the previous generation Sienna. Now that I am getting noticeably worse mileage than advertised, I am pretty upset. I typically only get 21-23 highway, and 16-17 city. I drove it all the way from Minnesota to Virginia this spring and didn't see the advertised 25mpg highway on a single tank. Best I have done is 23, and that is cruise set at 60mph on relatively flat ground for basically the entire tank. Second, the interior. While the interior is relatively attractive, I have found it to be of low quality. I have more squeaks and rattles in this thing than I had in the 2002 Buick LeSabre that it replaced. The dashboard rattles when it's cold, the upper glovebox rattles all the time, and the third row seat rattles so bad that I can't stand driving it with the third row seats up unless someone is sitting in them. Also, the upper glove box is difficult to close due to the cheap latching mechanism that is all the way to one side (seemingly so that the driver can reach it). Third, the middle row seats. The middle row has a somewhat strangely shaped seat back that, while comfortable for adults, is awkward for children. It kind of pushes their head down. There is also the big plastic thing that covers the track system between the middle seats. While I didn't think much of it when I purchased the vehicle, it does make getting into and out of the third row much more difficult unless you just step on it. There are a few good things. It does have an incredible amount of storage space inside, which makes it very flexible. You could legitimately drive 6 adults(including driver) to the airport with their luggage and not have a problem fitting everything/everyone. The seats are comfortable for adults in all rows(when the middle is appropriately positioned). The automatic climate control, bluetooth stereo, cruise control, and backup camera, are all very nice to use. It also drives fairly well. Plenty of power for on ramps and passing, the brakes are strong as well. One thing I found surprising was how tight the turning radius is. It really makes it incredibly easy to park. The only gripe I have about how it drives is that the steering is excessively light in my opinion. However, that is quite subjective, and others may prefer it. Overall, the Sienna has been reliable, drives nice, has lots of room, and plenty of power. However, the squeaks/rattles and poor fuel economy prevent me from recommending this. It really makes the thing feel like a very cheap utilitarian vehicle when you are driving it. I have driven the Odyssey and previous generation of Sienna, and neither of them suffers from this feeling of cheapness. My city beater, a 15 year old Honda Civic, seems to have a better constructed interior, and far fewer rattles. Very disappointed. Buy the Odyssey. It looks better, drives better, and gets better mileage. It may be slightly more expensive, but it is better than driving what feels like an upscaled Kia Rio."
39 people out of 69 found this review helpful
By Bruce on Thursday, December 04, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This is a modified rear entry wheelchair van. Like new with only 2,000 miles. Still has new smell. It came with dual power sliding doors, blue tooth, backing camera, power windows/door locks, keyless entry, and power driver seat."
5 people out of 6 found this review helpful