New Car Previews

Preview: 2018 Toyota Sienna

Toyota hit the ground running in New York this year; first there was the reveal of the surprisingly cool FT-4X Concept off-roader, which gave a tantalizing mix of classic styling with a hip outdoorsy vibe.

The real additions for 2018 come in the form of connectivity and infotainment

Next came the arrival of a more down-to-earth model, and that’s the Toyota Sienna minivan, which has been updated for 2018. Obviously, Toyota still sees plenty of potential with the minivan as it continues to massage a body style that has been losing ground to three-row SUVs.

The Sienna’s powertrain was all-new in 2017, so there hasn’t been much changed in that department. Nor has the exterior styling seen much change, the main additions being new colour choices Toasted Walnut Pearl, Alumina Jade Metallic (for all the R&B singers out there, it seems) and Parisian Night Pearl. The grille has also been enlarged, as have the fog lights. Meanwhile, new rocker panels are now available on all trims.

On higher trims, meanwhile, occupants will get the benefit of a laminated windshield, while top-spec Siennas get acoustic front row side glass, as well. Expect big improvements to noise, vibration and harshness levels.

If we’re honest, the fact that the styling has remained largely the same is no bad thing, as Toyota has managed to take one of the toughest-to-style body types and added a little flair in the form of aggressive headlamp lenses, low-profile front fascia, clear taillight lenses and – in the case of the car seen here – some fairly swanky 19-inch wheels. There’s even a subtle roof spoiler!

The real additions for 2018 come in the form of connectivity and infotainment, which shouldn’t really come as a surprise as more and more families are becoming more and more connected via handheld devices and so forth. When you think about it, minivans should be the prime candidates for as much in-car tech as possible, considering the long-distance people-moving duties they’re bound to undertake.

In that light, all Sienna models will get the new Toyota Entune 3.0 infotainment system, which provides navigation and App Suite Connect. Entune Audio Plus will be optional, adding 4G LTE Wi-Fi to which you can pair up to five mobile devices. No more arguing over which movie to watch, then. Unless, of course, the kids want to make use of the optional flip-down second-row widescreen display. Can’t divide that five ways, but you can link your Android device to it and stream directly from there. That’s a nice feature, though it’s too bad iDevices aren’t compatible.

The final infotainment frontier features Entune Premium JBL Audio that changes the speaker positioning – the speakers themselves have been designed to work as best as possible within the cabin – to make all listeners feel like they’re at a live jazz concert, instead of the back of a minivan. Music can also be "decompressed" to allow for even better sound when using MP3s or satellite radio.

It doesn’t stop there; 2018 also sees the addition of five USB ports, Bird’s Eye View monitor and 4.2-inch TFT in-gauge display.

Of course, as much as families like being entertained, they like to feel safe, too. Toyota is heavily invested in their Safety Sense driver aid technology, and for 2018, they’re bringing everything to all trim levels.

That means pre-collision with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, active lane-departure assist and automatic high-beams. That’s a lot of kit, further proof that Toyota is intent on keeping the minivan going strong well into the decade.

Having said that: Chrysler has gone the extra mile with a PHEV version, but Toyota continues to soldier on with traditional V6 power. It doesn’t change at all for 2018, meaning a sole V6 is your only choice, and it’s good for 296 hp and 263 lb-ft of torque, fed either to the front or all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Pricing has not yet been announced, but you can expect it closer to the 2018 Sienna’s release this fall.