2022 Toyota Sienna Review | 36 mpg is a gigantic advantage

·10-min read



It's rare for one element to singularly vault an entire car toward class-leading status, but that's exactly the situation with the 2022 Toyota Sienna. You see, every version is a hybrid that gets either 36 or 35 mpg compared to the 22 mpg returned by its gas-only, V6-powered competitors. That's an enormous gas- and money-saving advantage, and considering how people usually drive minivans, it grossly outweighs the fact that it's down on power.

At the same time, the rest of the Sienna is fully competitive among minivans, with other strong points being exceptional cabin storage, a bold interior design and versatile Super Long Slide second-row seats that are especially good for parents with older kids. The Sienna's handling is also sharper than its competitors, while its feature content, cargo space and safety are similarly strong. Therefore, with most other elements being equal or at least similar enough, the Sienna's massive fuel economy advantage becomes a deciding factor.

Of course, there is one competitor that gives it a run for its money: the Chrysler Pacific Hybrid, a plug-in model that offers all-electric range. It can therefore be even more efficient than the Sienna, but then it's also pricier (and harder to come by at dealers). In our comparison test between the two, it was nearly a tie with the edge going ever so slightly to the Sienna. Either way, we'd consider both of these first when looking for a minivan.

Interior & Technology | Passenger & Cargo Space | Performance & Fuel Economy

What it's like to drive | Pricing & Features | Crash Ratings & Safety Features

What's new for 2022?

The Sienna adds a new, unique trim level for 2022: the Woodland Edition. It gets a 0.6-inch increase in ground clearance thanks to unique shocks and springs, which may not seem like much, but the resulting 6.9 inches compares to 4.5 in the Honda Odyssey and 5.4 in the Chrysler Pacifica. It also gets its own 18-inch wheel/tire package, darkened exterior trim, exclusive colors, roof rail crossbars and a 1,500-watt power outlet. There are only minor feature content upgrades elsewhere in the Sienna lineup after it was all-new last year.

What are the Sienna interior and in-car technology like?

The Sienna's front cabin is shockingly high-style for a minivan, with a design that's an even bolder departure from the norm than the new, surprisingly lux Kia Carnival. The controls are canted ever-so-slightly toward the driver, while the high center console provides more of a car- or SUV-like feel. Nevertheless, that console is really just a bridge over a vast open canyon ripe for whatever you want to put down there (likely a purse). There are a number of other handy places up front to stow things, as well, which we go over in this deep dive review of the Sienna's interior storage.

Unfortunately, we've found that cabin quality differs widely depending on trim level. The upper XSE, Limited and Platinum (above and below right) trim levels get padded, leather-look trim across the doors and a modern wood-look trim level across the console. By contrast, the lower XLE trim level (above and below left), gets hard textured plastic instead of the padded stuff and bizarre rust-colored plastic trim with embossed lines and metallic specks. It looks cheap, and it’s the difference between the Sienna being better than its competitors and being a little bit worse.

As for technology, all the usual features are present and the 9-inch touchscreen is easily seen, reached and operated. It's just outdone by every competitor's system, especially Chrysler's and Kia's. The rear seat entertainment system also offers only one roof-mounted screen, versus the dual seatback screens of the Chrysler, and its USB ports are not as conveniently located as those of the Chrysler and Kia.

How big is the Sienna?

The Sienna is comparable in size to the other minivans. We didn't find it any more maneuverable or less cumbersome to drive in tight places, and it offers the same sort of vast cargo space behind its third-row seat. Now, its specs indicate far less cargo space when the third row is lowered as well as when the second-row seats are removed, but we suspect this is due to a difference in the way Toyota measures cargo capacity. In reality, we think it's effectively similar.

Really, minivans differ in terms of their second-row seating concepts. The Sienna offers a choice of two (and is most similar to the Kia Carnival). The eight-passenger model is probably better suited to parents with smaller kids since it comes with a removable second-row middle seat that you can affix a child seat to while keeping the outboard seats open. The seven-passenger setup found on upper trim levels features the new “Super Long Slide” second-row captain’s chairs, which slide further than its competitors by a considerable amount. Slid to the rear, they provide enough legroom for NBA forwards to kick back and relax. They also slide forward all the way to the front seats, making it more likely to fit whatever you need inside without moving the seats (while being more comfortable than the non-hybrid Chrysler Pacifica's Stow 'N Go seats). A second lever folds the seat cushion up and the seatback forward to either provide an easy ingress into the third row, or to maximize cargo volume even further.

There are certainly advantages to Stow 'N Go (for those who prioritize cargo-carrying versatility) and Honda's "Magic Slide" second-row (for those with multiple small children), so there isn't a right or wrong answer here. Choice is good. In this case, we think the Sienna's concept is best suited for families with older kids.

What are the Sienna fuel economy and performance specs?

Every 2022 Toyota Sienna is a hybrid. There's a 2.5-liter four-cylinder and two electric motors, plus a third added to create the available all-wheel-drive system. Its battery recoups energy from the brakes and engine (it's not a plug-in hybrid like the available Pacifica Hybrid, which has all-electric range and a higher price). Total system output is 245 horsepower, which is less than its V6-powered competitors.

Fuel economy is massively better, though. Toyota estimates the Sienna will get 36 mpg combined with front-wheel drive in EPA testing and 35 mpg combined with AWD. We averaged 39.4 mpg on a 454-mile road trip without making any effort to drive efficiently. The Odyssey, Carnival and V6-powered Pacifica get 22 mpg combined. That's a difference that should save you hundreds of dollars on gas every year, and given the way people usually drive minivans, seems to greatly outweigh whatever performance the Sienna gives up to its rivals.

What's the Sienna like to drive?

The new, hybrid-only Sienna certainly won't be the top choice for lead-footed minivan drivers, but that's a minority, if possibly an oxymoron. For everyone else, power should be perfectly adequate, while the instantaneous nature of the electric torque actually makes it feel quick off the line. You do have to live with droning from the e-CVT, though, especially when accelerating onto the highway.

Otherwise, the drive is smooth and mostly quiet with shockingly responsive handling. When not accelerating, the engine makes little sound. Noise from the wind and road are mostly filtered out before intruding into the cabin. The suspension is taut enough to provide good support for the Sienna’s long, bulky body, but not punishing over the craggy roads of southeast Michigan and northwest Oregon where we drove the Sienna. It's actually now the most engaging minivan to drive. This is in contrast to most versions of the old Sienna, which could be rather floaty. We used to suggest buyers go for the more controlled Sienna SE trim level, and although the similarly "sporty" new XSE trim does sharpen the Sienna, it's certainly not a must-buy for those who prefer a more composed or engaging drive.

What other Toyota Sienna reviews can I read?

2021 Toyota Sienna vs 2021 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Comparison Test

We test our top two-recommended minivans in this full comparison test. It comes down to one point out of a possible 230. (Spoiler Alert: the Sienna wins)

2021 Toyota Sienna XSE First Drive | It's the "sporty" one

The XSE features unique styling along with suspension and steering differences that result in a different, sharper driving experience. Unlike the last Sienna, we don't think getting this "sportier" version is a must for those who prefer a more responsive driving drive, but it certainly doesn't hurt.

2021 Toyota Sienna First Drive | Functional efficiency with style

Our first review of the Sienna, covering in more detail its changes and new features.

2021 Toyota Sienna Interior Storage Review

We go full James Cameron in this deep dive into the Sienna's interior storage, filling all 18(!) cupholders and its multitude of bins.

2021 Toyota Sienna Super Long Slide Seats Demonstration Video

Senior editor John Beltz Snyder shows you how the new Super Long Slide Seats work.

2021 Toyota Sienna Interior Storage Review Video

Senior editor John Beltz Snyder takes you inside the new Sienna Platinum AWD, showing off all the various places to stow your stuff.

2021 Toyota Sienna Cargo Area Video

Senior editor John Beltz Snyder shows off the Sienna's cargo area.

How much is the 2022 Sienna price and what features are available?

The Sienna starts at $35,775, including the $1,215 destination charge. Although other vans have lower base prices, the Sienna effectively starts off with a higher trim level that comes with more equipment (an Odyssey EX and Pacifica Touring are equivalent). Standard features includes automatic LED headlights, the full Toyota Safety sense driver assistance suite (see Safety section), power sliding doors and liftgate, three-zone climate control, an eight-way power driver seat, second-row sunshades, 16 cupholders, seven USB ports, a 9-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and a six-speaker sound system.

You can find a complete breakdown of each trim level's features, specs and local pricing here at Autoblog. All can be equipped with all-wheel drive for $2,000, with the exception of the Woodland, which includes it as standard. The eight-passenger version is only available on the LE and XLE.

LE: $35,775
XLE: $41,065
Woodland: $46,565
XSE: $43,315
Limited: $48,015
Platinum: $51,215

What are the Sienna safety ratings and driver assistance features?

Every Sienna includes forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning with steering assistance, blind-spot and rear cross-traffic warning, and full-speed adaptive cruise control. Automatic reverse emergency braking is included on all but the base LE. Also standard are Toyota's Safety Connect emergency telematics services, along with a number of atypical airbags: driver's knee, passenger seat under-cushion (prevents submarining under a seatbelt) and second-row seat-mounted side airbags.

The 2021 Sienna was named a Top Safety Pick+ by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the highest rating a vehicle can achieve. In government crash tests, the Sienna received five out of five stars for overall and side crash protection, with a four-star frontal rating.

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