Toyota Sienna

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Toyota Sienna AWD?

Oct 2007

I've had the Toyota Sienna AWD for 3 years, and a Previa AWD prior to that. It's a great van and a perfect people-mover. One big complaint: There is no spare tire on the Sienna, and the run-flat tires do not hold up well and need to be pampered (checking the pressure and rotating frequently) on a regular basis. Only 1 company makes these tires so you are in a bind there. Otherwise, the van has been great. I hear a hybrid version will be coming out next year, which might go a long way in improving the ~20/mpg mileage. The AWD is great on snow and on gravel roads, we use it often but it does lower the gas mileage and, again, cause more tire wear. sw

Nov 2006

We have 3 kids (2 in car seats), a big dog and a car that is too small! We are looking at the Toyota Sienna minivan with all wheel drive. I've read the archives about the Sienna, but there is nothing about the AWD tires. Does anyone out there have a Sienna with AWD? How do you like it? Or, if you have another recommendation for a 4-wheel drive or all wheel drive vehicle that can accomodate two carseats, a booster and a large dog, I'd love to hear it! Thanks so much! Headed to the Sierras

We have three kids (2 in boosters, one in carseat) and go to Tahoe regularly. Our Sienna AWD handles great in the snow and on ice. There is only one thing that I am not perfectly happy about---the run flat tires. They are expensive and they wear out quickly---at 36,000 miles, when properly maintained, so you get about 3 years out of them. They can wear out much earlier if you don't check the air levels regularly because the the tires have stiff walls they don't show if they are low on air. They recommend checking the pressure every other fill up. Except for the tires the car has been very reliable, comfortable and safe (handles well, brakes well in the snow). We really like the wireless headsets for the kids in the back. On long trips they can listen to a story on CD while we chat or we can even listen to the radio or a tape if we want up front susan

Toyota Sienna minivan w/ snow chains

March 2006

Since this is a family network I figured many of you have minivans, and some of you might have the Toyota Sienna.

Last weekend we went up to Tahoe in our 2004 Sienna, and knowing that we might need chains we bought them from Toyota of Berkeley. In Tahoe, we carefully put the chains on the front tires of our front wheel drive car, tightened them down and drove not more than 4 blocks at 8-10 mph when ALL the dashboard lights came on (ABS, VSC, Traction, check engine). We immediately took the chains off, but the lights remained. We know we put the chains on carefully and correctly (my husband grew up in snow country) reading all the instructions and car handbook.

Turns out that the chains damaged the ABS wire that hangs down near the right wheel. Toyota will not cover it under the warranty, and insists that we by the part and pay for labor ($500). One person from Toyota even had the gall to tell me I shouldn't take my minivan to Tahoe, and should have rented a 4 wheel drive vehicle!

This same type of thing happened to close friends of ours with their T. Sienna, and Toyota fixed it. When we bought our chains we mentioned their experience to toyota and specifically inquired about how to AVOID any damage.

A large family car like the sienna should be able to take snow chains without being so easily damaged. It is not a piece of fine china! Has anyone had this experience with the sienna? Do you put snow chains on your sienna? Could this be a design flaw - the ABS wire placement? What should I do beyond filing a complaint with Toyota corporate? This experience RUINED our one and only weekend at Tahoe with the kids. It was hard to disguise our tension and frustration with the car that we paid so dearly for. Thank you. maya

Try talking to another Toyota dealer about your problem. My husband has had a number of not too great experiences with Toyota of Berkeley's service dept. Last time I checked, they had a few BBB complaints as well. It does seem odd that if you purchased chains from them for your Sienna, that suddenly it's all your fault that the chains damaged your van. If you don't get any satisfaction, let them know that you'll report it to the California Bureau of Automotive Repair. You can file a complaint online. Good luck! Toyota Owner

Toyota Sienna: 7 vs 8 seats?

June 2004

We are serious about buying Toyota Sienna but are hesitating between the 7 seat vs the 8 seat configuration. We have 2 children (ages 2 and 4) and no plans for more.

The reason for upgrading from our sedan to a minivan is that we would like to have the flexibility of driving our kids' friends and their parents around, but we have no experience as to how many passengers are 'typical' -- if there is such a thing as 'typical.' I realize that it's a catch 22: if you have more seats you can/will carry more people and vice versa.

The 7-seat configuration provides more comfortable seating in the second row. That would be a day-to-day advantage over those occasions when we have extra passengers (perhaps one or a few times per week, if that much?).

What are the pres/cons of choosing 7 vs 8? Thanks. Iris

I believe the 2nd row seats are the same size in both models, but with the 8-seater you lose the inner armrests (and the space in between). We got an 8-seater in part because of our infant. We can position the middle seat closer to the front, and the baby is as far as possible from potential collisions. Even with side-impact airbags, this factor is worthwhile to me. If you have a 7-seater, you can move one of the seats toward the middle but not dead center. I don't think you can move it closer to the front.

One disadvantage is that you pay slightly more for 8 seats (maybe $150 more). Perhaps a bigger disadvantage, in the short run, is that dealers don't seem to order or stock very many 8-seaters, so you may have to special order one or settle for whatever model and color is available. Don't let some sleazy Toyota dealer tell you that ordering is impossible (as one told us) because we did it earlier this year. And you can save thousands of dollars by shopping around. We got the best deal from Dan Teruel of Toyota Vallejo, 707-552-4545, but you may find a better one elsewhere. You don't need to visit anyone, just telephone.

David, happy owner of a 8-seat Sienna

We have the 7 seat configuration and I'd recommend the same. The captain seats are so roomy. It is also great to have an ''aisle'' leading to the back. That way, you don't have to move the seats forward (like in 2-door cars) to get to the third row which can be very difficult if you've got car seats installed. Liz