Toyota's Sienna minivan returns as a 2020 model with one huge change from models of the recent past. In styling inside and outside the minivan remains familiar, but for 2020 an automatic assist seat is added as an option.
This approximately $6,000 option seat is designed to assist disabled or the elderly to get in and out of the vehicle. The seat operates by power (pushbutton on a separate key fob) with manual override capability. It rotates 90 degrees lowering itself through the power sliding middle-row passenger door and down to the ground. The seat, which has a lift capacity of 330 pounds, comes with adjustable armrests and a foot rest.
The access seat, which is available on LE and XLE models (other models from base to loaded, are L, SE and Limited), also can serve as a fully equipped a child-restraint seat.
An XLE 2020 Sienna was tested recently and it was reminiscent of recent models. Storage capabilities, seating, power controls for door locks, windows (even the third-row vents), heated front seats, sliding rear doors, liftgate and exterior mirrors were familiar.
Controls are well-placed and easy to reach. The sound system is simplified by tuning and sound control knobs. Air-conditioning controls are straight-forward and well-marked. Vents are appropriately placed. The trim is leather.
The standard powerplant is a 3.5-liter, 296-horsepower V6 mated to a shiftable eight-speed automatic transmission. During the test week with three persons aboard, the XLE averaged 24.2 miles per gallon usage of unleaded gasoline. The Environmental Protection Agency rates the vehicle, with only the driver aboard, at 19 mpg city and 27 mpg highway.
The tested XSE with the power access seat was priced at $43,700. Choosing to replace front- with all-wheel-drive will take the asking price past the $45,000 mark.
Although the minivan can be a three-row, eight-seater, the XLE and Limited have seven seats. The middle row has captain's chairs which can easily accommodate the automatic assist seat. The LE with the special seat also is a seven-seater. The captain's chairs tip up and can slide forward and backward. They also can be removed but they are heavy.
The tested XLE came with 18-inch 235 tires mounted on 18-inch, 10-spoke machined alloy wheels, just like the one on the top-of-the-line Limited model. Unlike the slightly more expensive Limited, the XLE did not have a navigation system, puddle lights, exterior mirrors folding by power or memory (driver's seat, exterior mirror).
A plus for bigger families is the roominess inside the Sienna. Leg room is almost comparable in all three rows although the official 36.3 inches in the third row is less than the 37.6 in the middle row and the 40.5 in front. These leg room measurements, by the way, are the same as they were in Siennas of the recent past. Ultimate cargo capacity (captain's chairs folded, third row seats lowered into a cavity) is 150 cubic feet. Climate controls serve three rows.
Big and roomy with roof rails overhead the Sienna can carry bulky, outsized or a normal amount of cargo.
Doors and liftgate will open and close via the remote-open key fob or a pushbutton (liftgate, B-pillars, dashboard).
A JBL sound system includes AM-FM-satellite radio, auxiliary and five USB ports. Niceties are hands-free phone, Siri Eyes Free and Apple CarPlay compatibility.
The Sienna is equipped with four latch locations for securing child seats. Besides eight air bags and the standard safety features (antilock brakes, stability control, overhead curtains for three rows, pedestrian detection and automatic braking), Toyota's Safety Connect system has 24-hour service for emergency assistance, stolen vehicle locator, roadside assistance and automatic collision notification.
True, not much has changed but there are tweaks here and there. Exterior design has more exterior chrome. On the interior, more information is available on the infotainment color screen. For example, the weather icon will give the outside temperature but, in addition, it also will note whether that temperature is current or was current five, 10, 15 or 20 minutes ago.
The manufacturer has priced the 2020 Sienna from $31,415 for an L to $44,310 for the Limited. Options and the automatic assist seat, which is an industry first, make those prices flexible in an upward direction.
Vehicle: XLE model of 2020 Toyota Sienna
Type: as tested, three-row, seven-passenger, all-wheel-drive midsize minivan with automatic rotating second row passenger-side seat
Price: with options, estimated at $45,000
Engine: 3.5-liter, 296-horsepower, dual overhead cam V6
Transmission: eight-speed automatic
Towing: 3,500 pounds
Weight: 4,590 pounds
Fuel: unleaded regular
Fuel tank: 20 gallons
Tires, wheels: 19-inch
Brakes: discs front, rear
Suspension: struts front, gas-filled shocks, coil springs, stabilizer bars front, rear
Turn curb-to-curb: 37.5 feet
Wheelbase, length, width, height, ground clearance in inches: 119.3, 200.6, 78.1, 70.7 with roof rails, 6.5
Leg room in inches: 40.5 front, 37.6 second row, 36.3 third row
Cargo in cubic feet: 150 behind first row, 87.1 behind second row, 39.1 behind third row
Warranty: three years or 36,000 miles with roadside assistance, five years or 60,000 miles powertrain
Assembly: Princeton, IN