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Toyota Sienna is the Ultimate Family Road Trip Vehicle

A 2019 Toyota Sienna helped make our 2,000-mile family road trip both enjoyable and memorable. See what makes the Sienna such an incredible family vacation vehicle.

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I recently returned from a family vacation in Michigan. This trip gave me the opportunity to thoroughly evaluate a 2019 Toyota Sienna XLE AWD, and it was very enjoyable to say the least.

We can also group the 2020 Toyota Sienna into this review as it is a direct carryover from the 2019 model year. So this will serve as a review for both 2019 and 2020 Sienna.

My family and I traveled a total of 2,080 miles from North Carolina to Michigan and back, which most people would think is more than sufficient to learn everything there is to know about a vehicle.

Everyone in my crew was thoroughly impressed with the Sienna, but each for a different reason.

2019 Toyota Sienna has very good passenger space

My two adult children and my wife made the trip up north, which was about 750 miles in total. My wife Holly sat in the middle row with my daughter, and she was immediately happy with the leg room in the middle rows.

Jeff Teague of ToyotaJeff in 2019 Toyota Sienna Alumina Jade Metallic showing legroom

You see, the 2019 Toyota Sienna has middle row seating that allows passengers to slide their seats forward and backward an absurd distance. This truly gigantic amount of slide space allows middle row passengers to slide their seats all the way back and have more leg room than most people can imagine a van would ever have. You can also move your middle seats forward more to free up leg space for the times when there are passengers in the third row seating. Big selling feature for the Sienna and this could be the only reason a family needs to choose the Toyota Sienna to buy.

I found the interior cabin roomy and spacious with few blind spots. The buttons and controls were easily accessible for both the driver and the front passenger to operate equally.

2019 Toyota Sienna Interior with DVD

If you are an iPhone owner, the Apple CarPlay system is very simple to connect your phone to the car USB port. I found myself using Waze for navigation for a majority of the vacation and was thankful Sienna is equipped with CarPlay. On a side note, you can retrofit your 2018 Sienna with a software update to add Apple CarPlay, just like you can with the 2018 Camry. See your local dealer to schedule.

You will like how 2019 Sienna rides

For me the aspect I enjoyed most about the 2019 Sienna was its smooth ride. At highway cruising speeds the Sienna was smooth with little wind noise, little road noise and little engine noise. All in all, it is a very quiet vehicle at all speeds.

The importance of this one point cannot be undervalued. It is crucial for both in-city commutes and for long family road trips that the ride is comfortable and quiet. This makes the trip more enjoyable and it certainly lessens the amount of stress during driving and also while riding as a passenger.

2019 Toyota Sienna Alumina Jade Metallic Color side view

Sienna is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces 296 horsepower and 263 lb.-ft. torque and is matched with an 8-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission. I found acceleration to be really good while merging on to a highway or passing other vehicles when necessary.

How is Toyota Sienna equipped?

We were traveling in a Sienna XLE, which is the perfect trim level if you want all the basics plus a good amount of the “extras.” By extras I mean standard leather seats with 8-way power driver seat and 4-way power passenger seat, smart key push button start and power liftgate.

The 7-inch multimedia touch screen is user-friendly and easy to navigate. My family and I enjoyed the various voice commands and it was fun trying to stump the system with unusual commands. The joke was on us, fortunately, as the voice command recognition system is quite sharp, and even successfully gave us the right answer to our “find nearby Italian restaurants” request. Nice work!

Our Sienna XLE was equipped with the highest level of entertainment options, as it featured dynamic navigation and dual-view Blu-Ray DVD entertainment center with a 16.4-inch display.

A benefit I learned about this wide-screen system is that you can watch one movie on the big screen, or for those families with kids of different ages, you can set up two side-by-side movies playing at the same time. This way one child can watch a Harry Potter movie while the other can watch Wonder Pets at the same time. The two wireless headphones provide the opportunity for people to listen to a movie through the headphones, while some may choose to play the show through the vehicle speakers so that everyone can listen and enjoy.

Watch how the key 2019 Toyota Toyota Sienna features make it one of the best family vans and click to subscribe to Torque News Youtube channel for daily automotive news analysis.

My kids both appreciated the fact that this Toyota Sienna came with multiple USB ports to plug in. In fact, all 3 rows of seating had USB ports available so everyone can charge their devices simultaneously.

Other highlights of Toyota Sienna

During our vacation we picked up a few additional passengers, and the consensus was that the 2019 Sienna is a winner.

My Aunt liked the smooth ride, along with the fact that there was “a ton of leg room” in the back row. With the middle rows having so much flexibility to slide forward and backward such a big distance, it was configured so that both 2nd and 3rd row passengers were able to stretch out and relax comfortably.

Storage room was important to my Mom. She commented a few times how nice the extra open space was between the front two seats. She thought anyone who carried a large purse or bag could set it there perfectly without it being in the way at all. Moms are both smart and practical, aren’t they?

See my video review of the Toyota Sienna XLE AWD

Final thoughts on the Sienna

Well, we made it through 2,080 miles of our Michigan family vacation safely and had a blast. A big part of it was the 2019 Sienna (or 2020 Sienna you could say).

My family members all agreed that the Sienna is smooth and extremely comfortable with great passenger space and lots of technological resources to make the trip even more fun.

My son, who is a very tough critic of long road trips, even said the 12-hour drive each way “wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.” For any parent who has taken their children on road trips, you can all appreciate this is a major victory.
I recommend anyone looking to upgrade their van research and test drive the Toyota Sienna. You will be pleasantly surprised.

Thanks for reading everyone. See you next story where I am discussing the new release of the 2019 Toyota RAV4 XP Trail Package.

You May Also Enjoy reading about Upcoming 2020 Toyota Highlander redesign changes.

Bookmark Jeff Teague's Toyota News and Reviews at Torque News Toyota. You can reach Jeff on Facebook and Instagram. Twitter @toyotajeff1 and tweet him tips for new stories. Jeff also shares Toyota news videos on his Youtube Channel at ToyotaJeff1.

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Jeff’s Mom (not verified)    August 21, 2019 - 2:09PM

Jeff is right. Great vehicle for a family. Quiet and comfortable. And, a make it or break it item for me, lots of cup holders in all the right places. I had a broken arm while traveling in this van and it was easy for me to get in and out. I really like that there is space between the front seats for a woman to put her purse. That is important to me and something you don’t think of when car shopping. Our dog Jack was excited he made the final cut for Toyota Jeff’s video review.

Howie Dub (not verified)    August 22, 2019 - 12:56PM

Great minivan while it lasts. Lease and don't buy. Quite a few people have experienced transmission issues. I have a 2011 Ltd AWD with 50k miles and the transmission just went out. Happened while going up a steep driveway and started to go backwards. Luckily it didn't go over the side of the hill. Others have had it go out on the freeway. And apparently once they go out, Toyota won't repair and recommends full replacement, which is a lot of $$$$. There's a thread on the Car Gurus questions page about this.

Joe (not verified)    August 22, 2019 - 7:37PM

In reply to by Howie Dub (not verified)

I have a 2012 XLE, Front Wheel Drive and I can attest those people have abused that specifications provided by Manufacturer. Is like that Auto Door Locking Malfunction that was made a big deal on Media and Toyota had to issue a Recall. Guess what? I am still driving with the same doors as day one. I have the Recall Mails coming periodically from Toyota that I am to bring the vehicle for repairs free of charge. People that abuse the system and want to peel money for free are the ones that always come up with BS justifications.

Evan (not verified)    August 22, 2019 - 3:09PM

I have a 2016 Sienna and I drove from Chicago to Boston! You are right, Sienna is the perfect car for long trips. A lot of space smooth drive and even the MPG is pretty good for a V6 engine.

nlp (not verified)    August 23, 2019 - 8:44AM

My wife drives a 2014 Sienna Limited AWD with the 2nd row limo footrests. Ditch the runflat tires for a set of Michelin Defenders and you have the ultimate road trip vehicle with slightly more interior room than an Chevy Suburban. There is no vehicle like it on the road. The Pacifica has nicer leather and better ride but as of today isn't available in AWD and it's FIAT made with that notorious for failing 9 spd transmission.