2018 Toyota Sienna Driving Impressions

Minivans are expected to safe and maneuverable, not quick to accelerate or loaded with passing power. As long as a minivan reaches highway speeds reasonably early, stops effectively, and is responsive enough to steer around trouble, a minivan is considered okay.

The Sienna is more than okay, with a very healthy 296 horsepower from its 3.5-liter V6. It suffers no shortage of energy on the road, well above average for its class.

Tall and heavy, Sienna offers sluggish and lethargic handling. It’s slow to respond in transient maneuvers and seems to require more steering input than many SUVs. And there’s a fair amount of nose dive when braking. The SE is the sportiest model, with a tighter suspension and 19-inch wheels and tires.

The 8-speed automatic delivers upshifts so smooth they are practically imperceptible, however the engine and transmission don’t seem perfectly coordinated, as downshifting to pass can be slow. And, curiously, in the middle of a right-hand turn at an intersection, the transmission often selects a gear that’s too high (third), then is slow to get back down to second gear to accelerate. It’s disruptive and grows annoying.

** Price(s) include(s) all costs to be paid by a consumer including $399 documentation fee, except for licensing costs, registration fees, and taxes.

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