In a world where it seems like everyone is moving to SUVs, there is still a good case to consider an old-fashioned minivan. And if you're shopping for one, you should really consider the 2017 Toyota Sienna.
A minivan offers all the utility of an SUV, and generally offers much more cargo capacity, with a lower floor for easy loading. If your tasks include hauling a lot of people around, a van that is made for large families makes a lot more sense than most SUVs.
With the Toyota Sienna, you don't have to give up SUV power to get minivan convenience, either. Toyota builds the Sienna with their tried-and-true 3.5-liter V6 engine, now rated at a powerful 296 horsepower and 263 pound-feet of torque. The Sienna needs that power because it weighs in between 4,300 and 4,705 pounds, depending on the trim and option packages you bought.
New for 2017 is a standard 8-speed front wheel drive transmission, which is better than the 6-speed that was used in prior years. The new transmission has boosted fuel economy to 19 MPG city and up to 27 MPG on the highway. All-wheel-drive is not available on Sienna, so if you need that feature, you should probably look more closely at the Toyota Highlander family SUV.
Inside, the Sienna offers every family-friendly feature you could want, including the dual-view Blu-Ray player with a screen that flips down from the ceiling. That's standard on the SE Premium trim van that I tested, but you can also get seat-mounted tablet holders on any Sienna for $99. In the modern world, that's almost as good as in-car theater.
Of course, the Sienna comes with three rows of seats and dual powered sliding doors. The rear sets fold flat into the floor, and the second row packs up towards the front of the vehicle, giving you an enormous cargo bay. The one fault I can find with the Sienna as a family van is that the step up is higher than is convenient for small children or elderly family members, though any SUV will have the same issue. Be sure to bring everyone with you to the test drive.
On the road, the Sienna is really a good-driving vehicle. There's plenty of engine power and the van feels planted on the pavement. Road noise is minimized and the Sienna corners well. With modern traction and stability controls, this van will go anywhere the pavement will take you.
The bottom line on the 2017 Toyota Sienna is that Minivans still work for family needs, and Toyota still puts their best quality and top technology into the Sienna. There's no wonder why they call it the Swagger Wagon.
2017 Toyota Sienna SE Premium
Base price: $30,710
Price as tested: $42,197
Engine: 3.5-liter 6-cylinder (296 hp, 263 lbs-ft)
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
EPA estimated mileage: 19/27
Road noise: Quiet
Curb weight: 4,705 pounds
Final assembly: Princeton, Indiana