Ponte Vedra, Fla. — The minivan segment has taken some blows over the past few years, with sales reportedly falling 53 percent in the past decade.
Blame it on crossovers.
But, for those who still like minivans – and there are a fair number of devotees out there – the selection of choices, while smaller, is probably better in quality than it ever has been.
The latest family hauler to get a refresh is the 2015 Toyota Sienna.
We got a look at it at the beach, appropriately enough, to simulate how it might be for a family to take it on vacation.
The redesigned touches on the outside of the van are not revolutionary, but they make it look more modern and sporty.
There are new headlights that looked they were plucked from the Highlander crossover, and that’s a good thing, because they add some style. Taillights also got a nifty new look.
The front grille got a touch up, too, that looks vaguely Kia-ish. Also not a bad thing, just an interesting comparison.
Unfortunately, some of the changes did not extend to the lowest trim level, the SE. We can guess that this was a cost-containment measure, as Toyota probably wanted to keep that model as affordable as possible for the more price-sensitive buyers in the segment.
Toyota added three new colors to the lineup: attitude black metallic (that’s a funny name when you’re talking minivan), creme brule mica and sky blue pearl. Color choices now total nine.
On the inside, the new design touches really make the Sienna look like you’re in a luxury SUV or crossover, rather than the more basic stuff we’re used to seeing from minivans.
Toyota also added three new interior colors: bisque fabric, chestnut leather and black leather (what, no attitude?).
The controls on the center dash are rich looking and techy, yet easy to use.
There’s something called the driver easy speak, which is basically an intercom system. Presumably, it was designed to let parents up front speak to kids in the back easily, without shouting. Not a bad idea.
Sienna now has three-zone automatic climate control as a standard feature, in addition to a standard backup camera.
And since it’s a family vehicle, Toyota added eight standard airbags, to give buyers peace of mind.
Toyota also noted that Sienna is the only minivan with optional all-wheel drive, for those who live in colder climes.
The Sienna starts at around $28,000 and tops out at around $41,000.
It will be interesting to see how this latest version fares, sales-wise, but for those devoted minivan fans, they’ll find plenty to like about this model.