A handful of vehicles might come to mind when you hear the name “Toyota.” The Prius, of course, has been leading the charge in the hybrid game for a long time now, as Toyota knew that hybrids would be a big deal way before anyone else did. In fact, if we can be honest, they tolerated years of teasing and criticism for their Prius, which was for some time considered “dorky” or “just for tree huggers,” etc. You know the stereotyping—maybe you even participated in it—but Toyota is laughing all the way to the bank now with the newfound popularity of the Prius.
Toyota also has a loyal fanbase for its Tacoma, one of the longest-lasting pickup trucks on the road. Just about every Toyota dealer across the country sees regular customers looking for a used Tacoma because they know how reliable these trucks are. Then, of course, there’s the Camry—always a great value purchase; it’s consistent, packed with awesome convenience features, and well-priced.
Despite all this praise funneling in, you don’t hear much about the Sienna, Toyota’s minivan. Did you know Toyota has been making the Sienna since 1998? They’ve actually built over 2.5 million Siennas—but Toyota might not be the first manufacturer people think of when looking for a minivan. That should change soon, however, considering that Toyota has constantly been improving upon the Sienna, and the 2023 model has features that will really wow you. This is not like your mom’s minivan; it’s time the world starts giving the Sienna more attention—and here’s why.
Actual Ottoman Chairs
Plenty of minivans out there offer captain’s chairs in the second row, but the Sienna has real sliding and reclining ottoman chairs available. These chairs can slide back, making room for the fold-away leg rests to pop up so you can fully stretch out. Then, the backs recline. If you’ve ever wanted to know what it would feel like to essentially have a La-Z-Boy recliner in a vehicle, you need to check these out.
These chairs complement the large rear entertainment system, turning the rear cabin area into what is essentially an entertainment room on wheels. If you need to transport passengers who constantly complain about long rides, the Sienna’s ottoman chair and rear entertainment screen combination could change everything for you; suddenly, a boring and torturous ride in traffic turns into just another viewing party of their favorite shows.
If you are a busy parent, then you probably can’t even remember the last time your arms weren’t full of stuff. Science projects, soccer gear, groceries, an actual child—you name it. You’re always carrying something.
For your benefit, the 2023 Sienna has motion-activated doors; just do a little kicking motion beneath one of the side doors and it will open automatically—so you don’t have to put all of that stuff you’re carrying down, manually open the doors, and then pick it all back up.
There is also a kick-activated power liftgate, which is hard to live without once you acclimate, but the motion-activated doors are particularly unique.
Talk to Rear Passengers
If you’ve ever tried to break up a third-row argument while driving, you know it’s basically impossible; it’s as if you’ve become invisible or are a million miles away. You’re yelling, “Stop that!” but nobody is listening…
That can change, thanks to the Sienna’s Driver Easy Speak feature. When you’re driving, you just push a simple button on the touchscreen and start talking; your voice will pipe through the rear seat speakers, which should give your kids a good, healthy instruction when they’re misbehaving back there.
Everyone Gets a USB Port
There are a total of seven USB ports in the 2023 Toyota Sienna. You read that correctly: seven. That means that, when it’s equipped with second-row ottoman seats, every passenger gets their own personal USB port. Everyone can plug in their smartphones and tablets, and nobody has to argue over who has been hoarding the charging cable.
If you’ve learned (as many parents have) that kids with powered devices are happy kids, you’ll love how peaceful the cabin can be, thanks to all those USB ports. You get one, too, by the way, so you can keep your personal device powered on the go.
Extra Help Getting Into Seats
If anyone in your family requires extra assistance getting in and out of the vehicle, the Sienna was designed with power lift seats; in fact, you can set yours up in the front passenger seat or the second-row seats. This is a really thoughtful addition by Toyota, giving families with varied capabilities access to this terrific minivan.
Climate Control for All
You’ve seen dual-zone climate control in vehicles, in which the driver and front-seat passenger can set their desired temperature settings. You’ve seen tri-zone temperature settings, too—but the Sienna usurps them all with four-zone climate control. Yup: never again will you hear disputes about the cabin being too hot or too cold; just about everyone has command over the climate in their section of the Sienna, from the front seat all the way to the back.
Enjoy a Little Shade for Car Naps
I think we can all agree that a parent’s favorite type of passenger is one who is asleep—but when the sun is coming in too hot, it can be difficult for rear-seat passengers to doze off. Luckily, sunshades are available for the second- and third-row passengers of the Sienna to create a dim and cool nap-worthy haven.
Off-Road and Sport-Tuned
You probably don’t think of going off-road when you think of a minivan, and who could blame you? But the Sienna truly defies what a minivan can be…
The Woodland is the off-road-ready Sienna trim. It boasts a raised drive height, making it easier to go over rocky terrain and other obstacles without fear of damaging the undercarriage. It also gets all-wheel drive for improved traction on several types of surfaces. It even gets roof rails with crossbars, so you can bring your dirt bikes and other adventure gear with you.
Then, there’s an available sport-tuned suspension for those who want improved acceleration and performance. Traditionally, drivers who need minivans for their families but want off-road or performance-forward vehicles for fun have had to purchase two separate vehicles. With the Sienna’s off-road and sports-tuned options, parents can get all the experiences they want in one practical vehicle.
Forget Everything You Thought You Knew About Minivans
Minivans have gotten a bad rap. People often think of them as boxy, ugly, no-fun-to-drive, and just plain boring—and Toyota is completely rebranding the minivan with its Sienna.
This model is loaded from front to back and top to bottom with features that will surprise you. It’s a true pleasure to ride in, with its ottoman-style seats and rear entertainment system that make the second row feel like a luxury screening room. Parents of rowdy kids will love features like the four-zone climate control and Driver Easy Speak to keep rear-seat passengers content and well-behaved.
When people talk about Toyota, they often talk about Toyota’s many popular sedans and, of course, the Prius. But don’t let the Sienna escape your attention, especially if you’re looking for a minivan that raises the bar on what a minivan can be.