How The 2014 Toyota Sienna Wins On Swagger and Capability, But Loses At The Pump

Okay, it's four years old, but it's still pretty darn funny.  And creative.  And a surprising number of people are still only seeing it for the first time.  Toyota tried to infuse a sort of humorous cool into the hopelessly unhip idea of "we need a minivan" with this music video for the then-new Sienna.

Front 3/4 view of 2014 Toyota Sienna Limited AWD
The 2014 Toyota Sienna Limited.
They were rollin' in the HOV in an SE, but we recently had a top-of-the line Limited AWD, yo (I promise, no more of that)...and where you might expect anything four years into its product cycle to be feeling a bit less than fresh, the Sienna struck me as still being on top of its game.

Now, that may be because it and the Honda Odyssey have pretty much taken the minivan as far as it can go.  They are, as noted in the Odyssey review we posted recently, the two dominant minivans, and as the Phoenix bureau noted recently, the dark horse Nissan Quest has a lot going for it, too.

Rear 3/4 view of 2014 Toyota Sienna Limited
2014 Toyota Sienna Limited.
For now, though, let's focus on the Sienna Limited AWD. Base price $41,170 with a raft of standard features that include 18-inch alloy wheels, every active and passive safety device imaginable, dual power sliding doors, dual moonroofs (!) , a multi-information display with backup camera, two-tone leather captain's chairs up front (8-way power adjustable for the driver, 4-way for the passenger), removable second-row seats, a stowable 3rd-row seat, tri-zone automatic climate control, a 10-speaker JBL audio system with a 6-disc CD changer, USB and Bluetooth.

About those removable second-row seats...yes, they are removable...but man, they're heavy.  I pulled them out of the tester when Navigator found a dresser in a North Sacramento suburb and, a day or two later, two nightstands in San Pablo, 95 miles to the west on Craigslist.  I didn't take pictures, but the cargo capacity of the Sienna with the rear seats folded flat and the center captain's chairs pulled out is remarkable.

Interior view of 2014 Toyota Sienna Limited
2014 Toyota Sienna Limited interior.
Options add up fast in the Sienna Limited.  The Limited Convenience Package (I'd seriously think about re-naming that) gets you auto-off HID headlights and rain-sensing wipers for $890.  Carpeted floormats and a door sill protector add $330.  But the big jump comes when you say yes to the Limited Premium Package.  Dual view entertainment center with two wireless headphones, a voice-activated touchscreen DVD navigation system with panoramic backup camera and on-screen backup guides and an upgraded JBL audio system. That's $4,105.

Which makes the bottom line on the Sienna Limited AWD we drove, including $860 delivery processing and handling fee:


For those of you who wonder why there's no Lexus minivan...this is pretty much what one would be.

The heavy option content pushes the final price more than $3,000 higher than the Honda Odyssey we tested, well over $2,000 more than the Nissan Quest from the Phoenix bureau.  And those two have the advantage in fuel economy (19 city/28 highway for the Odyssey, 19 city/25 highway for the Quest, but 16 city/23 highway for the Sienna).

As much as I like the Sienna (and if all things were equal, it would probably be my choice of the three), that fuel economy difference adds up to a lot of money over the long haul of ownership, and tilts the scale (if money's an object) to the Odyssey.