Aside from sliding side doors, there aren’t a ton of differences between today’s minivans and the more popular three-row crossovers. The biggest one is that crossovers offer more SUV-like driving dynamics, thanks to the availability of all-wheel drive. So if you like the idea of easy-access minivan doors, but can’t go without all-weather driving capabilities, then you should look at the 2018 Toyota Sienna AWD — because the Sienna is the only model to offer all-wheel drive.
The current Sienna was introduced in 2011, but Toyota has kept its minivan competitive in the segment with a number of updates over the years. Last year, the Sienna received a significant powertrain upgrade (bringing a new engine and a more advanced transmission), and the 2018 Toyota Sienna gets even more, with a modest facelift and enhanced cabin tech. Is it enough to compete against the Kia Sedona, Honda Odyssey and Chrysler Pacifica? Keep reading this test drive review to find out.
2018 Toyota Sienna Exterior
There’s only really so many ways to design a minivan, which is one reason the 2018 Toyota Sienna doesn’t look its age when compared to its rivals. Spiffing up its slab-sided body, the new Sienna gets a sportier front end with a redesigned grille and fascia. It’s nowhere near as extreme as the styling Toyota revealed on the Camry and Avalon, but it does help freshen up the look. The small tweaks included moving the Toyota logo from the hood down into the grille, and the lower fascia received a larger grille opening flanked by vertical fog light bezels/fake air vents. This tester was finished in the new-for-2018 Parisian Night Pearl paint job.
2018 Toyota Sienna Interior
When it comes to buying a minivan, the exterior design might be the last thing buyers look at; after all, the whole point of this segment is to haul around families with as much comfort and technology as possible. The 2018 Toyota Sienna was already great in this regard, but enhancements added for the new model year make the cabin experience even better. All Siennas get an upgraded version of Toyota’s Entune infotainment system, while the top Limited trim level, which we sampled for this test drive review, gets a quieter cabin thanks to laminated front door glass.
This trim level definitely gives the Sienna a luxurious vibe with a seven-passenger seating configuration (with leather on the front two rows), a sliding center console, heated leather steering wheel and an overhead console. Taking this interior a step further, the Premium package adds rain-sensing wipers, a leatherette third-row and Toyota’s Dual-View Blu-Ray DVD rear seat entertainment system with a 16.4-inch screen and wireless headphones. The 2018 Toyota Sienna Limited Premium is not lacking for connectivity, either, with streaming capability for Android devices, WiFi Connect – 4G LTE coverage for up to five mobile devices – and a total of five USB ports spanning all three rows.
The Sienna may not have fancy features like Honda’s built-in ShopVac and rear-facing interior camera, but it does offer unique conveniences like dual sunroofs (both open!) and the cool Driver Easy Speak. Toyota ensures that no matter which row you are sitting in, the 2018 Sienna is comfortable and fun.
2018 Toyota Sienna Powertrain
Thanks to last year’s powertrain upgrades, all 2018 Toyota Sienna vans are powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 and an eight-speed automatic transmission. Combining power and efficiency, the new V-6 features Toyota’s D-4S direct injection allowing the Sienna to produce 296 horsepower and 263 lb-ft of torque to go along with EPA-rated fuel economy estimates dropping to 18 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway**. Of course, opting for AWD does come at the expense of efficiency with FWD models rated at 19 mpg city and 27 mpg on the highway. AWD is available on the LE, XLE and Limited trim levels, but regardless of whether it powers the front wheels or all four, the 2018 Sienna has an impressive maximum towing capacity of 3,500 pounds.
Minivans have definitely grown in size over the years, but the Sienna still has a car-like ride – even more so than the three-row Toyota Highlander crossover. Surprisingly, the AWD system only adds 135 pounds of curb weight with this Limited AWD tester tipping the scales at 4,750 pounds.
2018 Toyota Sienna Safety
The Sienna was already rated with a five-star overall crash rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, but that didn’t stop Toyota from making the 2018 Toyota Sienna even safer. New for 2018, all trim levels come standard with Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS-P) Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, Automatic High Beams, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control and Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, which according to Toyota makes the 2018 Sienna the only minivan to have this active braking technology standard on all models. Adding even more safety, of course, is the available all-wheel drive system, and the Limited Premium is the only Sienna model to get the Bird’s Eye View backup monitor.
2018 Toyota Sienna Overall
While the Honda Odyssey, Kia Sedona and Chrysler Pacifica are all newer options, the 2018 Toyota Sienna is still a must-see for minivan buyers. The enhancements made over the last two years cement the Sienna as a safe, fun and efficient way to haul around up to eight passengers.
The Sienna delivers plenty of value as well with a starting price of $30,850*, while opting for the luxury-minded Limited ups the price to $43,835*. This fully loaded Sienna Limited Premium AWD came with an as-tested price $49,760*, which put into context is about $1,000 less than a base Chevrolet Suburban.
Make sure to visit your local AutoNation Toyota dealership and test drive the 2018 Toyota Sienna today!
*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.
**Based on 2018 EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending on specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.