2015 Toyota Sienna SE Quick Take
The 2015 Toyota Sienna isn't all-new, but a handful of meaningful upgrades keep it from stagnating against competitors like the Honda Odyssey and new Kia Sedona. With a redesigned dash, new premium materials, better entertainment system inputs, and several other modern tech upgrades.
Our test vehicle was a 2015 Toyota Sienna SE Premium. The $40,565 price is about $1,300 or so higher than a comparably equipped XLE Premium, and it includes a split-screen rear seat entertainment system that offers built-in Blu-ray with HDMI, SD card and RCA inputs, an infotainment system with navigation, and Toyota's Driver Easy Speak, which makes it easier for third-row passengers to hear the driver say, "Quiet down you kids!" Billed as a sporty version of the Sienna, the SE also gets unique gauges, exterior styling, and a stiffer suspension and heavier steering. Make no mistake, this is a family hauler first, and ultimately it feels like one from behind the wheel.
That's no bad thing though. During our time with the Sienna, we loaded it up full-minivan style, with five adults and three kids. Despite the full house, nobody complained about space, and everyone had plenty of head and legroom. After a quick walkthrough the kids had no problem using the sliding mechanism to access the third row, and the plastic bag hangars in the cargo area were perfect for preventing spilt leftovers. The Sienna's relative lack of bulk -- compared to a full-size SUV anyhow -- made maneuvering through tight parking structures a breeze. The powerful 3.5-liter 268-horsepower V6 engine and 6-speed automatic made short work of getting up to speed on the freeway, where the SE's stiffer ride was evident, but not unpleasant. Of course, none of this is a surprise: If you need to carry lots of people AND things, a minivan like the Toyota Sienna can't be beat.
This year's upgrades make the Sienna more pleasant even if you're by yourself. The soft touch materials on the dash are welcome, and Toyota's new infotainment system uses knobs for volume and tuning; Honda should take note. The minor downsides included rear seatbelts with a propensity to rattle against hard plastic in the back, and a loud highway ride compared to our long-term Kia Sedona. We wish the infotainment system had a "Map" button instead of forcing us through the Home screen, but that's getting pretty nit-picky.
Overall, this is a solid van that remains a top-seller for good reason. It also lays the groundwork for the all-new Toyota Sienna that is surely making its way through the pipeline as we speak.
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