2012 Toyota Sienna LE Minivan (3.5L V6 6-speed Automatic)
Driven On 8/21/2012
This rating has been carried forward from a prior year because the newer model has no substantial differences.
The Toyota Sienna LE pretty much has it all. It's comfortable, roomy and a breeze to drive. Then there's its powerful V6, supple transmission and intuitive throttle calibration. Add in Toyota quality and the reasonable price, and you've got a top choice.
PerformancePeople don't buy minivans for performance reasons. Rather, we buy them to cart around kids and loads of groceries, sports equipment and home-improvement supplies. But we appreciate the Sienna's strong and smooth V6 and supple transmission.
This is a strong and smooth V6. It's a bit soft below 3,000 rpm, but then comes alive with a hearty midrange punch and an even bigger boost of momentum above 5,000 rpm.
Brakes have a linear delivery. None of the around-town touchiness that is so common these days. Pedal has a firm feel and panic stopping distances were consistent.
We like the road surface feedback through the wheel, but there's too much power assist making for overly light steering that lacks proper precision. Of course, it is a minivan.
The suspension is tuned for softies, with lots of body roll. It does take a nice set with each transition, but around our slalom cones the stability system was overly intrusive.
With a smooth-shifting and quick-reacting six-speed automatic transmission, linear throttle delivery and a handily-tight turning radius, the Sienna is a breeze to drive smoothly.
V6 models have a 3,500-pound towing capacity.
ComfortTo say the Sienna is a comfortable people-hauler is an understatement. Between its butt-friendly seats and plush ride it's downright pillowy. The V6 is silent at highway speeds, but wind noise can be excessive.
The cushions are relatively firm but still offer plenty of comfort. Second-row seats are also comfy, but third row is difficult to get the seatback to that just-right angle.
Cushy ride that absorbs most bumps with ease. This thing seems to just float down the highway.
The Sienna's sound deadening is only OK, as there is a significant amount of noise from that expansive windshield. Whisper-silent V6 and quiet tires on highway.
InteriorThere's lots of room here. It's easy to get in and out and the view for the driver is exceptional. Things like the stereo's touchscreen could be improved and the cupholders don't hold cups well, but overall this is a well-done interior.
The driving position is excellent. Most controls are straightforward, although the stereo touchscreen is outdated. The power side door button can be confused for a light switch.
The front seats are very easy to get in/out of. Have to hop up a bit to get into second row. Third-row access is made easier by the sliding/tilting second row.
Third-row headroom is surprisingly good, but elbow and hip room are tight. Second-row headroom is voluminous. Not lacking headroom or width up front, either.
Absolutely expansive window area all around the Sienna. Standard rear backup camera just gives you even less excuses for inadvertently hitting something in a parking lot.
14 cupholders, but the four most important ones--in the center console and slide-out--are too wide and let bottles tip easily. Second row has limited storage cubbies.
ValueToyota has long been known as a value leader because its well-built cars, trucks and minivans seem to run forever, have a reasonable amount of equipment and out-the-dealer pricing won't break your wallet. Those qualities remain true.
Build Quality (vs. $)
As you'd expect of a Toyota, the Sienna is put together well, although some of the materials are on the cheap side, for instance the tacky, fake wood trim and plastic dash.
The Sienna LE V6 comes with most of the standard items you'd expect, like power sliding side doors, backup camera and Bluetooth. The one item it's missing is a power rear door.
A little over $30,000 is not an unreasonable sum for an uplevel full-size minivan with a V6. Its out-the-door $31,880 price is only truly missing a power rear door.
Anytime we better the EPA's city mpg by almost 2 mpg with our average, we're doing OK. The EPA rates the Sienna at 18 city/25 highway/21 mpg combined. We averaged 19.9 mpg.
The Sienna comes with a 3-year/36,000-mile warranty plus a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain coverage.
The Sienna comes with free maintenance and roadside assistance for 2 years/25,000 miles. Plus, Toyota has a reputation for building some of the best vehicles in the world.
Fun To DriveIs the Sienna fun to drive? Not really, although it is fun to romp on the throttle and accelerate as quick (or quicker) than some cars and most pickups, with 0-60 in 7.5 seconds.
This is a truly comfortable family hauler, the driving experience of which is only marred by its susceptibility to crosswinds and imprecise steering which allows some wandering.
If there is any personality here in a Toyota minivan, it comes from the V6, which is ultra-smooth and quiet on the highway, but shows surprising giddyup when you punch it.