2013 Toyota Sienna LE V6 Road Test Review

2013 Toyota Sienna LE V6It wasn't the first time I've recommended the Sienna, especially in recent years. When the current model first came on the scene a little over two years ago I was on the press launch and was impressed, especially with the sporty SE model. That Toyota would go so far as to create a much sportier version of its minivan than its base or luxury trim was both surprising and welcome, and at the other end of the spectrum to include premium items like reclining second row Lounge seats with extendable ottoman-like leg rests in its top-line XLE added a certain
2013 Toyota Sienna LE V6
Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press
prestige to minivan ownership. I've driven numerous Siennas in various trims since, just around my hometown and on extended trips, and have always come away impressed. The only complaint has ever been second row seats that can be tricky to remove and heavy to carry, but for those like the mother of my oldest daughter who won't be removing them often this isn't an issue.

For 2013 Toyota has added some useful features on various trim levels, starting with the just-over-base eight-passenger LE V6 version given to me for my weeklong test that now gets standard three-zone automatic climate control. Some might shy away from the Sienna at first because of its near $30k base price tag, the least expensive Sienna LE four-cylinder starting at $29,775 including destination charges and my tester's MSRP set to $34,540, but you've got to factor in its standard features list that goes above
2013 Toyota Sienna LE V6
Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press
and beyond the only competitor priced just a bit lower. For the base model the list includes auto up/down powered windows at all positions ahead of the third row (which uses powered flip-out windows), three-zone independent manual climate control, a four-speaker stereo with auxiliary input jack, tilt and telescopic steering, front and middle row captain seats with easy clean fabric, a handy conversation mirror, and alloy wheels, while my LE V6 gets a few additional items like steering wheel audio controls connecting through to an upgraded six-speaker audio system with XM satellite radio, USB plug, Bluetooth phone connectivity and a back-up camera. It also gets a multi-information display, an eight-way powered driver's seat, centre console bin, overhead console, a really handy 40/20/40 middle row for eight-occupant seating, second-row sunshades, and powered sliding side doors. Other new features for 2013 Siennas include an
2013 Toyota Sienna LE V6
Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press
electro-chromatic rearview mirror with integrated compass and HomeLink universal transceiver on the sporty SE, plus blind spot monitoring and front windshield acoustic glass for the luxurious XLE.

And while others advertise by saying no safer minivan exists than there's, they don't offer the Sienna's front knee airbags making Toyota's entry, which also includes every other safety feature available in the segment such as all the usual airbags from front to rear, ABS-enhanced four-wheel discs with electronic brake force distribution, brake assist and a brake override system, plus traction and stability control, arguably the safest of all.

I could see some detractors point to the Sienna LE's base four-cylinder engine as a negative, but for me it's a big positive as it
2013 Toyota Sienna LE V6
Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press
helps Toyota's entry-level van achieve the best fuel economy in the segment at a claimed 10.4 L/100km city, 7.5 highway and 9.1 combined, and when I've had opportunity to drive it I never felt it was overly sluggish off the line or when passing. Granted, I never drove it with a full load of cargo or kids, just moving odd furniture items, my two youngest aboard during weekends and some light luggage on a trip across the Maritimes with my oldest daughter. The 2.7-litre engine makes a respectable 187-horsepower and 186 lb-ft of torque mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with a handy manual mode, good for energetic acceleration with smooth yet snappy shifts. In a vehicle segment that once only offered four-cylinder engines (and in Toyota's case some pretty wacky layout designs with its original vans placing their engines on their sides under the front seats) the Sienna is the only minivan to continue the tradition, making its 266-horsepower 3.5-litre V6 available in upper trim levels like my LE V6 tester.
2013 Toyota Sienna LE V6
Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press
Toyota is also the only minivan maker to offer an all-wheel drive option, but only with the V6. And by the way, the V6 is a powerhouse with 245 lb-ft of torque that has no problem moving a fully loaded Sienna up to speed quickly while fuel economy is quite good for the class at 11.4 L/100km city, 7.9 highway and 9.8 combined in front wheel drive and 12.4, 8.6, 10.7 with the all-wheel drivetrain.

The Sienna has struck a nice balance between ride and handling since inception, although this newest generation is the best at both worlds. My tester came with the standard 17-inch alloy wheels wrapped in 235/60s all-round; mine fitted with Toyo Observe GSi-5 (yes a strange name for a tire) studless mud and snows. Standard tire pressure monitoring means they're kept at their ideal levels for an optimal
2013 Toyota Sienna LE V6
Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press
contact patch and consistent wear, and overall, combined with the Sienna's aforementioned active safety systems, they performed well in wet slippery conditions.

Most people judge a minivan's ultimate performance by how easily seats fold down and then how much space is made available for hauling around gear. Whether you're loading up hockey bags for early morning practice, ski gear for a weekend on the slopes or making frequent trips to the hardware store, the Sienna should do the job nicely. I mentioned the second row seats are a bit challenging to remove and might need two to carry unless you're particularly strong, and while they don't fold into the floor like one challenger they collapse and slide forward against the front seatbacks for when you've got a large load to fit inside. For most jobs this will be good enough, and you'll love the
2013 Toyota Sienna LE V6
Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press
way the rear seats tumble down into their wells to create a perfectly flat load floor. Toyota has even provided detailed instructions on their seatbacks to make it a simple two-step process, and likewise for lifting them back into place. You won't need to increase your trips to the gym to get the job done either, as they should be easy enough to lower or lift back up for any adult or teen. As for cargo capacity, Toyota claims 1,107 litres behind the rear seatbacks, 2,466 litres behind the second row and 4,248 litres behind the first row. And that, my friends, is why people ultimately buy minivans.

That the Sienna rides and handles well, gets the fuel economy of a midsize sedan, and looks really nice is just a bonus.