The Bottom Line: Toyota started making cars in 1936. They started selling vehicles in the US in 1958. Toyota then introduced a van in 1984. The Toyota Previa was the first minivan introduced to the US in 1990 as a replacement for the creatively named Toyota Van, and it was meant to be a serious competitor to the all dominant Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan minivans. It wasn't.
So in late 1997 Toyota launched the front wheel drive 1998 model year Sienna in the North American market as a replacement for the mid engined Previa van. The Sienna debuted with a 3.0-liter V6 engine rated at 194 hp and 209 lb ft of torque. This was an engine with a sizeable amount of horsepower and torque for it's place in time.
The Sienna started initial production at Toyota's Georgetown, Kentucky, assembly plant. As the replacement for the Previa, it was based on an extended version of the Camry. Toyota even marketed it as the “Camry of Minivans,” building on the sedan's popularity.
Fast forward 22 years, and now the Toyota Sienna is at the top of the list in minivan sales in 2019. There are 10 company's selling minivans in the US today. The Best Selling Minivans are: Toyota Sienna - Honda Odyssey - Chrysler Town & Country - Dodge Grand Caravan - Kia Sedona - Hyundai Entourage - Mazda CX-9 - Nissan Quest - Ford Transit Connect Wagon and the Mercedes Benz Metris. That's a lot of competition for a buyer that wants a family wagon to choose from.
Let me help you narrow it down a bit. This week Toyota sent me a 2020 Toyota Sienna SE Premium Edition FWD front wheel drive Minivan to drive and review. First off Toyota minivans come in 7 different models, starting with the L, LE, LE Plus, SE, XLE, XLE Plus and the Limited Edition. The test van is right in the middle of the pack as an SE model. As the L model starts with a base price of only $31,640, the SE Edition starts at $37,790, and it comes with a long list of standard equipment.
This 2020 Toyota Sienna SE Premium Edition FWD Minivan starts with a window sticker price of $43,660. The options on the minivan are: The Nightshade package for $700, the paint protection film for $395, the preferred Accessory Plus package for $473, and a set of black wheel locks for $65. The total MSRP manufactures suggested retail price, including the $1,095 destination charge, came to: $46,388.
Compared to all the competition the Toyota Sienna checks in as a great minivan. It boasts one of the most powerful engines in the class, and it provides a very comfortable ride. Like many Toyota vehicles, the Sienna minivan comes standard with a full array of driver assistance technology. It also serves up an impressive amount of cargo space, and a multitude of seating configurations. The SE model has 4 captains chairs and a 3 person third row seat that folds down flat into the floor. Plus a stowable second row center seat, so seating for 8, with lots of cargo space behind the third row seats.
The Sienna SE has a 3.5L liter V6 engine that puts out 296 horsepower and it's mated to an eight speed automatic transmission. The Sienna's engine is one of the strongest in the class, and it provides plenty of power and quick acceleration. The everyday driving impression is enhanced with a sport tuned steering and suspension system. And it's all backed up with a set of P235 50R 19" performance series tires mounted on 19" black alloy wheels. The sport tires traction grip is as good as they look.
The Premium Edition comes with a Dual-View Blu-Ray rear seat entertainment system and power everything, including dual power sliding side doors, power rear deck lid, power glass moonroof, power front heated seats and power anti-lock brakes. The tunes are from a Premium JBL Audio system with a 10 speaker layout integrated into the 7 inch center stack touch screen, and includes Dynamic Navigation and back up cameras with cross view, pre collision detection.
The Silver Metallic paint job contrasts nicely with the Black Leather Trimmed seats and the all black interior. The Nightshade Edition package includes a black sport mesh front grill, black door handles, black 19" alloy wheels, black rear deck spoiler, black outside mirror caps, black roof rack, black Toyota emblems and black model ID badge's. The Nightshade Edition's black accents make this minivan into a super cool looking ride, inside and out.
The fuel economy numbers are 19 MPG miles per gallon in city driving, 26 MPG in highway driving, and 21 MPG in combined driving. These numbers are very good MPG averages compared to all the minivans on the market today. The Greenhouse Gas Rating is a 4, out of 10, and the Smog Rating is a 5, out of 10. Right in the middle of the pack in gas mileage, emissions and smog ratings.
The overall feeling of driving, comfort and affordability are the Toyota Sienna minivans sweet spots, and the van checks all the safety and technology boxes too. With 7 models to choose from, 7 different price points, plus 100's of options, Toyota has a minivan that's built exactly the way you want it to be.
Being first in minivan sales means more choices for you, the buyer. If your looking for a family hauler with the most power, style and good looks, then Sienna is the minivan you have been looking for. A word to the wise is sufficient. Be Smart, Stay Safe, and Just Breathe. And remember “You Are What You Drive ©”
And maybe, just for those reasons alone, you should “Drive one, Buy one, Today ©”.
This Bottom Line Review is provided by: Tony Leopardo © AutoWire.Net.
"Tony the Car Guy” is an automotive writer, editor and publisher in the San Francisco Bay Area. If you have a question, or comment for Tony, send it to email@example.com or visit AutoWire.Net at www.autowire.net
Column Name: You Are What You Drive - A Bottom Line Review
Topic: The 2020 Toyota Sienna SE Premium Edition FWD Minivan
Word Count: 1,088
Photo Caption: The 2020 Toyota Sienna SE Premium Edition FWD Minivan
Photo Credits: Toyota Internet Media
Series number: 2020 - 17
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2020 Toyota Sienna SE Premium Edition
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2020 Toyota Sienna SE Premium Edition