Minivans have gotten a bad rap from the automotive press for years.
They have always looked a bit ungainly. But for the past 40 years they have demonstrated their versatility time and again. Even the oldest models seem to have a long life in the used-vehicle market because of their substantial utility and their ability to carry passengers in relative comfort.
The Toyota Sienna, having quietly adapted to a hybrid powertrain as standard equipment a while back, carries on as one of the best-selling minivans in a segment, which still has some very serious competitors such as the Chrysler Pacifica, Honda Odyssey and Kia Carnival.
The 2023 Sienna XSE AWD comes with a lengthy list of safety and tech features as well as seating for seven and with the space for all the gear required for a family vacation. It is also quite unpretentious and has more than enough power to keep up with everyday traffic.
The stylists assigned to work on the exteriors of minivans generally don’t try to hide their basic function, which is to carry people and stuff. While Toyota dresses up the front with a distinctive grille and placement for the light fixtures and the rear liftgate with artfully styled sheet metal, the automaker utilizes the same straight-forward strategy for the Sienna.
The vehicle also has a somewhat lower profile since the vehicle has not been lifted a couple of inches to create the appearance they can travel off-road like most crossovers. The Sienna is equipped with easy-to-use sliding doors, one of the minivan’s unique features. It also comes with a sunroof and a handsome set of 18-inch wheels at the corners.
Key to the design of a minivan is the interior, which requires maximizing the usable space to produce comfortable seating for seven, including the driver, with surprisingly easy access. It also is equipped with four-zone climate controls.
The Sienna has critical modern features such as an 11.6-inch display screen for entertainment and navigation, while large screens with HDMI input, are available for the second-row seats. The controls around the driver’s seat also are within easy reach on the steering wheel and, in the center stack.
The interior is also versatile, and the second- and third-row seats can be folded to manage larger or bulkier items. Visibility from the driver’s seat is excellent and the sight lines from the captain’s chairs in the second row are also very good.
The 2023 Sienna is equipped with a 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder engine, dual electric motors and electronically controlled continuously variable transmission, or CVT, as well as an electronically controlled all-wheel-drive system.
The powertrain can produce 245 horsepower and 204 pound-feet of torque. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has given the 2023 Sienna XSE AWD a combined fuel economy rating of 35 mpg, including 35 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway. It can also tow up to 3,500 pounds.
Safety and Technology
For driver and passenger protection, the 2023 Sienna is equipped with multiple airbags as well as Toyota Safety Sense with pre-collision warning and pedestrian detection. It also is equipped with lane-departure alert with steering assistance, blind-spot detection and high-beam and road-sign assistance as well as full-range, radar-based cruise control. The Sienna also has premium audio with multiple speakers, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, USB ports, Bluetooth and wireless charging and backup camera.
The 2023 Sienna was surprisingly pleasant to drive. Minivans have suffered from the impression they are underpowered but with the hybrid generating 245 hp, the Sienna had more than enough power for everyday tasks including pulling out on the freeway or moving to pass despite the extra weight from the battery.
The electronic CVT offered smooth and well-timed shifts, while the vehicle’s driving dynamics were impressive thanks to the combination of electric power steering and the sport suspension, helping level out even rough road surfaces. The all-wheel drive enhanced gave the Sienna performance on wet surfaces a lift and helped make it admirably adapted to a wide variety of driving situations and it was easy to park.
2023 Toyota Sienna XSE AWD Specifications
|L: 204.1 inches/W: 78.5 inches/H: 68.5 inches/Wheelbase: 121 inches
|2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine with two electric motors; electronic CVT
|35 mpg city/35 mpg highway/36 mpg combined
|245 horsepower and 204 pound-feet of torque
|Base price: $36,135; As tested: $49,892 including $1,335 destination charge
For anyone who need to ferry around children of almost any age, minivans remain eminently practical. The Sienna also comes with a nice mix of driver assistance and connectivity features to help everyone in the vehicle kept in touch.
It’s also roomy, which helps make driving with a crowd inside the vehicle less stressful and the interior is surprisingly quiet. If you can get beyond the baggage that seems to come with driving almost any vehicle in this segment, the Sienna is good pick. But also be prepared for a dose of sticker shock — the Sienna I drove cost $50,000.
2023 Toyota Sienna XSE AWD — Frequently Asked Questions
Is the 2023 Toyota Sienna hybrid only?
Sienna successfully completes its third year as a hybrid-only model, and in 2023, Toyota celebrates its 25th anniversary by launching a Limited-Edition version with only 2,535 units.
What is the best 2023 Toyota Sienna trim?
The XLE’s combination of standard and available equipment, 7- or 8-passenger seating, and a reasonable price tag make it our first choice, followed by the XSE or Platinum, the former for its sporty look and sport suspension, the latter for its high-tech features.
Will the 2023 Toyota Sienna be a plug-in hybrid?
There is a 2.5-liter 4-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).