2012 Toyota Sienna Minivan Review | Edmunds.com

2012 Toyota Sienna Minivan

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Toyota Sienna Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 3.5 L V 6-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 6-speed Automatic
  • Horse Power 266 hp @ 6200 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 18/25 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats No

Review of the 2012 Toyota Sienna

  • A Edmunds Rating
  • Roomy, comfortable, well-built and offered in several different flavors, the 2012 Toyota Sienna minivan is an excellent choice for larger families.

  • Safety | Rating Details
  • Pros

    Smooth and powerful V6; available all-wheel drive; seven- or eight-passenger seating.

  • Cons

    Some lower-grade plastics in cabin; expensive options packages.

  • What's New for 2012

    For 2012, the Toyota Sienna's XLE trim gains additional standard features, notably a power passenger seat and automatic headlights.

Full 2012 Toyota Sienna Review

What's New for 2012

For 2012, the Toyota Sienna's XLE trim gains additional standard features, notably a power passenger seat and automatic headlights.


With its cavernous interior and bevy of available comfort and convenience features, the modern minivan is second to none as a family hauler. The Toyota Sienna has long been one of the segment's most capable picks, and last year, it got a top-to-bottom redesign that makes it even more compelling.

Relative to the previous generation, the current 2012 Toyota Sienna presents buyers with a wider range of choices. It can be had with a four-cylinder engine for those who want higher fuel economy, and there's the SE trim level with a sport-tuned suspension for more responsive handling. Other highlights include a split-screen video monitor for the rear-seat entertainment system and available recliner-style seating for the second row.

The Sienna also has a smooth ride and a quiet cabin in its favor, and the available V6 brings spirited acceleration. All-wheel drive is offered, a plus for those who frequently slog through rain and snow; the Sienna is the only minivan to offer this feature. Another bonus is the Sienna's ability to seat up to eight passengers.

Of course, the minivan segment boasts some impressive choices. Our other top choice is the talented Honda Odyssey, whose wide, uniquely configurable second-row seat adds an extra measure of versatility. You might also want to look at the Dodge Grand Caravan and the Nissan Quest. Still, the 2012 Toyota Sienna is an ideal match for many on the strengths of its overall competence and unique mix of features, engines and trim levels.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2012 Toyota Sienna minivan comes in five trim levels: base, LE, SE, XLE and Limited. The LE and XLE come in seven- and eight-passenger configurations; the base and Limited are seven-passenger only and the SE is eight-passenger only. All trims come with front-wheel drive while the LE, XLE and Limited can also be had with all-wheel drive.

The base Sienna includes 17-inch alloy wheels, sliding rear doors with power-down windows, triple-zone air-conditioning, full power accessories, a telescoping steering wheel, cruise control and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack. The four-cylinder LE adds privacy glass, heated side mirrors, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, floor and overhead consoles and an eight-way (manual) driver seat. The LE V6 adds a roof rack, power-sliding side doors, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, power lumbar supports (front seats), second- and third-row sunshades, a 3.5-inch display (includes a back-up monitor), Bluetooth (phone and streaming audio) and a six-speaker sound system with satellite radio and an iPod/USB interface.

The sport-themed SE is equipped similarly to the LE V6 but adds more aggressive styling via 19-inch alloy wheels, a unique front fascia (with foglights, mesh inserts and a larger air intake), lower body skirting and tinted head- and taillights. The SE also has firmer suspension tuning, revised power steering and a power liftgate. Inside the SE are leatherette/cloth upholstery, unique instruments, triple-zone automatic climate control and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.

The Sienna XLE reverts back to the LE but features a unique metallic-gray grille insert, automatic headlights, a sunroof, a tow prep package, leather upholstery, wood-grain interior trim, power driver and passenger seats, heated front seats and auto-up/down power windows. The AWD version of the XLE also comes with second-row lounge seats that feature pop-up footrests.

The plush Limited features 18-inch alloy wheels, a satin chrome grille, power-folding side mirrors (with auto-dimming, signal repeaters and puddle lamps), dual sunroofs, front and rear parking sensors, keyless ignition/entry, two-tone leather seating, driver memory settings, a leather-and-wood steering wheel, an upgraded 10-speaker JBL surround-sound audio system, second-row lounge seats and a power-folding/split third-row seat.

Options on the Toyota Sienna are grouped into packages that vary based on trim level and buying region. Notable highlights include xenon headlights, rain-sensing wipers, adaptive cruise control, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system with a large screen that can be split to display two different sources and a navigation system with a back-up camera.

Powertrains and Performance

Base and LE models come with a 2.7-liter inline-4 that makes 187 horsepower and 186 pound-feet of torque. Available on those two trims and standard on all others is a 3.5-liter V6 with 266 hp and 245 lb-ft of torque. Both engines come matched to a six-speed automatic transmission. The Sienna LE, XLE and Limited V6 models can also be had with all-wheel drive.

In Edmunds testing, we timed the V6 (in front-drive Limited trim) from zero to 60 mph in a swift 7.9 seconds. The EPA fuel economy estimates come in at 19 mpg city/24 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined for the four-cylinder Sienna. Notably, the V6 gets pretty much the same numbers with 18/25/21 ratings. Opting for all-wheel drive drops the Sienna to 17/23/19.


Antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, a driver-side knee airbag and active front head restraints are standard on all 2012 Toyota Sienna models. A pre-collision warning system and hill start assist are optional on the Limited. At our test track, a Sienna Limited stopped from 60 mph in 127 feet -- about average for the minivan segment.

In government crash testing, the Sienna received an overall score of four stars (out of five). It got three stars for overall frontal crash protection and five stars for overall side crash protection. In tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Sienna earned a top score of "Good" for its performance in frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength crash tests.

Interior Design and Special Features

Lower trim levels of the Sienna are attractively decked out with high-quality fabric upholstery, while higher-end models get leather along with somewhat unconvincing faux-wood cabin accents. Some of the plastics feel a bit downmarket, though, while others -- such as the intentionally rough-textured plastic on the dash -- are just plain odd. Seating is plush, there's abundant space for storage and the Sienna's controls are user-friendly. The available rear seat entertainment system has a split-screen monitor that allows two different media (e.g., a movie on one side and a video game on the other) to play simultaneously.

With a seven-passenger Sienna, you get second-row captain's chairs that tip up to allow easier access to the third row; these chairs also have a long-slide feature to maximize legroom for taller passengers. However, the seats do require a fair amount of effort to slide, and removing them is a job best left to two people, as they are rather heavy and awkward. The eight-passenger version comes with a 40/20/40-split second-row bench whose center section slides close to the front seats for easier access to the little one seated there.

Choose a model fitted with the lounge seats and second-row passengers get to recline in La-Z-Boy-style comfort, provided those seats are slid back far enough (and the front seats are up far enough) to allow the footrests to come up all the way. With the second-row seats out and the third row stowed, the Sienna provides a massive 150 cubic feet of maximum cargo capacity.

Driving Impressions

We've long favored the Sienna's V6, which has the juice to deliver lively acceleration. The 2.7-liter four-cylinder is smooth and quiet, with enough punch to deal with traffic and freeway cruising with two people aboard; however, its thrust tapers off when it's faced with steeper inclines, quick merging or a full load of passengers. The smart six-speed automatic does a great job at keeping the four-cylinder peppy, but the downside of this powertrain is that the fuel economy isn't any better than the V6's.

The 2012 Toyota Sienna's ride quality is plush, and handling is competent in all versions. The SE, due to its recalibrated suspension, provides more agile handling with a somewhat firmer (though still comfortable) ride quality. The steering is typical Toyota, meaning precise if somewhat numb, though the SE offers a meatier feel in the wheel.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

Sienna after 2 years

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Vehicle: 2012 Toyota Sienna LE 8-Passenger 4dr Minivan (3.5L 6cyl 6A)

After two years the 2012 Sienna is doing its job. There have not been any quality issues and my kids love having their own sliding doors. Here are some things to consider if you are looking at getting this used. 1) This vehicle eats tires. Even rotating every 5k like recommended and it'll probably need a new set at 25k. 2) Drivers seat arm rest is way too high, and doesn't even line up with the rest built into the door! So uncomfortable it is not used 3) I infrequently pull a trailer weighing roughly 2500lbs and the V6 is not a strong as I'd like. Van is rated for 3500lbs, that would be a stretch with any hills. 4) Gas mileage never lives up to billing. In MN winters it gets 16mpg combined

Slight thumping noise heard when

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Toyota Sienna LE 8-Passenger 4dr Minivan (3.5L 6cyl 6A)

Our 2012 sienna van with about 3000 miles started to make a slight thumping noise when applying the brakes. Sometimes the noise is louder and there is more than one thump. I took my van in for service 3 times for this problem. The first two times the service dept. claimed they didn't hear any noises. The third time I drove the van with a mechanic and he heard the noise. He thinks there was a tsb issued on this problem and that the brake pads were moving and this was considered normal. However, I believe this is not normal and Toyota should investigate further. Does any other 2012 Sienna owner have this problem?

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Why i bought a 2012

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Vehicle: 2012 Toyota Sienna SE 8-Passenger 4dr Minivan (3.5L 6cyl 6A)

I have driven vans since 1976, starting with a Ford Econoline 150 followed by a string of 5 Chrysler minivans. In 2006, I purchased an new Oddesey EX-L . It was by far the best minivan I had ever owned. After posting nearly 90,000 mi of mostly trouble-free driving, some periodic transmission slippage prompted me to go shopping. I loved the Oddesey styling except its face that resembled a 2001 Oddesey. I also liked the style of Siennas. In short, Honda wouldn't deal and Toyota was eager. Still leary of the Sienna, I took a long test drive in both an XLE and a SE. The SE drove much like the Honda. The dealer added a light grey leather interior, awesome! Happy at 20K miles and 0% financing.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

On our 2nd sienna

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Vehicle: 2012 Toyota Sienna XLE 8-Passenger 4dr Minivan (3.5L 6cyl 6A)

We LOVE this van. Just got our 2nd one not to long ago. Our only real complaints are: - road noise on the highway is AWFUL - almost sounds like you have a window open - this was mentioned in consumer reports - no arm rest on both sides of the captains chairs Other than these two things this van is great on long roadtrips and just around town. You can't go wrong with it and our 2011 held its value so much we were able to get a 2012 at lower payment cause we had equity in a car.

7 of 14 people found this review helpful

Loving it

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Vehicle: 2012 Toyota Sienna XLE 8-Passenger 4dr Minivan (3.5L 6cyl 6A)

This car was an upgrade from our 2007 LE AWD model. I love this car. All of the nicer amenities are very well done. The steering is much nicer--not hard and trucky like our old one--and it handles well both on the highway and on country roads and city streets. The back up camera in the dash is very useful, something I didn't have before and wouldn't have thought I would like. The driver armrest is higher in this car than our old one, but it still bugs me that it is not adjustable apart from the seat back. The entertainment system is easy to use and keeps the kids happy. Love the side shades and the auto doors and back gate--I use all of those a lot.

8 of 18 people found this review helpful

Very disappointed

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Vehicle: 2012 Toyota Sienna XLE 7-Passenger 4dr Minivan AWD (3.5L 6cyl 6A)

I am so disappointed with the Nav system in my 2012 Sienna, and even more disappointed that Toyota refuses to do anything about it. The Nav system makes poor decisions, often adding quite a bit of time to my trip. And I can't hear the instructions when the radio is on as it does not turn down the radio volume. My last car does this and that was purchased 7 years ago! Entunes is mostly worthless as it's dangerous for the driver to use it when the car is moving, so you're better off having the passenger use apps on a smartphone instead. The Toyota Nav system doesn't even change the time of day when moving into a different time zone. I'd be better off with a $150 Nav unit from Radio Shack.

Talk About The 2012 Sienna

Read more about the 2012 Toyota Sienna

Gas Mileage


  • 18
  • cty
  • 25
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs

Identifix Reliability Ratings

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