Consumer Reports is right: Sienna is the minivan to beat

I don’t always agree with Consumer Reports, but they were right to give their top minivan score to the 2019 Toyota Sienna, and after they test the 2020 model, which we have recently done, I’m guessing it will come out on top, too.

Earlier this year, we reviewed the 2019 Sienna, and we loved its relatively plush third row, its quieter-than-normal cabin, a ton of standard safety features, the precise Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, and a powerful almost-300 horsepower engine. The 2020 still has all of that.

The 2020 copy we reviewed was the new Nightshade Edition. So imagine (or look at the pictures) a “Super White” Sienna trimmed with a black mesh sport grille, black door handles, black outside mirror caps, black wheels and a black spoiler. Add a black Toyota emblem and badging, and you’ve got a cool-looking ride. You can also get the Nightshade Edition on Celestial Silver Metallic, Midnight Black Metallic and Salsa Red Pearl Siennas.

While we’re talking about variants, we drove the SE, which normally comes as a front-wheel drive, but our was the smooth-riding all-wheel drive. You’ll pay about $1,500 more for that upgrade. A basic SE starts around $37,500. The Sienna also comes in the $34,000 LE and the $37,500 XLE trim levels. As equipped, our copy was stickered at just a tick over $45,000.

Our family of seven took the Sienna to John Tanner Park about an hour west of Atlanta, which was a 90-minute trip for us, and we experienced first-hand a benefit of having mid-row windows that lower. One of our children gets motion sickness, and sometimes a dose of fresh air cures it. Having four windows that lower, which is not normal for even most late-model minivans, is super handy.

On that trip, we also enjoyed how spacious the Sienna is. We had coolers and picnic supplies and changes of clothes and so much more, and the generous 39 cubic feet of aft cargo space (behind the third row) was plenty.

We regretted that we couldn’t take this all-wheel drive onto the sand or snow to try it out those capabilities, but its nice to know that the AWD system is working for you all of the time, even on regular roads under normal driving conditions. Unless I am mistaken, the Sienna is the only minivan offering AWD.

This new Sienna seemed quieter than normal, and after a little research we learned it has a new acoustic windshield that contributes to that result.

One last observation is that they smoothed out the hood even more with the 2020, which is a good move. If you read our reviews of the previous Siennas, you’ll know we didn’t like the ridges over the front wheel wells, which make these minivans look from the front like angry lizards. All is forgiven now.

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