Let's just get this out of the way right now---a minivan is not an aspirational object. It is a purely rational, practical purchase, arrived at usually by a process of elimination of vehicles that don't suit the family's needs.
It's hard to imagine now, but ten years ago, when the current-generation Toyota Sienna was introduced, it was considered to be cutting edge---a revolutionary minivan. And it came with a very clever longform online ad, which, thankfully survives for us to watch in 2020:
Yes, that's how hip the Sienna was---at least in the universe of minivans---ten years ago.
Today, a decade on? Well, it's a different world, with a lot less competition in that space. Ford, GM, Volkswagen and Nissan have bailed out of the minivan game, leaving Honda's Odyssey (redesigned in 2018), Chrysler's Pacifica (all-new for 2017) and the Dodge Grand Caravan, which is two years older than the Sienna and still in production largely for rental fleets and bargain hunters. It's been ten years since one of those showed up in a press fleet and made it to my driveway.
So where does that leave the Sienna?
The answer is---it's surprisingly competitive. Yes, some of the hard points of the interior are distinctly last-decade (or even late the decade before), but it's built to Toyota standards, has room for a lot of people and a lot of things and has, despite ten years of production, had improvements along the way---including standard Safety Sense, USB ports, upgraded entertainment systems, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning with lane keeping assist and automatic high beams.
There have also been improvements to the powertrain. In 2017, the 3.5-liter V6 got a bump to 296 horsepower, which makes the Sienna mighty quick, and it also was treated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, which helps with fuel economy (and EPA-estimated 19 miles per gallon city/26 highway).
There are seven different trim levels of the 2020 Toyota Sienna---with the entry-level L model starting at $31,565. I drove the SE Premium, which is about the middle of the range and has a starting price of $43,660. For that price, here's what comes standard, in addition to the things discussed above:
- 19-inch alloy wheels.
- Sport-tuned suspension.
- Dual sliding power doors and power rear liftgate.
- LED daytime running lights.
- Blind spot monitor.
- Rear cross-traffic alert.
- Power tilt/slide moonroof.
- Eight-way power leather-trimmed front seats.
- Removable tip up and slide second-row seats.
- Leatherette 60/40 split stowable third-row seats.
- Three-zone automatic climate control.
- Smart Key with pushbutton start.
- Dual-view Blu-Ray rear entertainment system.
- Driver Easy Speak.
- Premium JBL Audio system with ten speakers, one USB media port, five USB charging ports and SiriusXM Satellite Radio.
- 7-inch touchscreen navigation.
And our tester also had some extra-cost options:
- Nightshade Edition (Black sport mesh front grille, black door handles, wheels and spoiler, black outside mirror caps, black Toyota emblem and badging): $700.
- Paint protection film: $395.
- Preferred Accessory Package Plus (Roof rack, carpeted floor mats, door sill protectors, cargo net): $473.
- Black wheel locks: $65.
With $1,095 delivery processing and handling fee, the bottom line on the window sticker came to $46,388.
Cheap? No. Right in the zone for what a well-equipped but not loaded minivan costs these days? Yes.
The fact that the Sienna is as competitive with newer designs as it is shows just how good and how advanced the "Swagger Wagon" was in the first place ten years ago.