2020 Toyota Sienna SE Premium Joins the Dark Side

Practical Cool: Middle of the road minivan is ready for a facelift.

Ed TahaneyWriter, photographerManufacturerPhotos

We're not afraid to admit it: We like minivans. They're easier to get into and out of than most SUVs, they offer way more room, generally speaking, and dare we say they're actually not too bad to drive. Yes, there's still a stigma surrounding them, but that didn't stop Toyota from selling 52,760 Siennas in the U.S. last year. It's on track to move nearly as many in 2019, despite the fact that the present Sienna is nearly a decade old.

If recent spy photos are any indication, the new fourth-generation Sienna will be here soon enough, likely sometime next year. But until it is Toyota is trying to keep things fresh by rolling out special trim levels like the 2020 Toyota Sienna SE Premium Nightshade Edition. The $700 package, which tastefully accented our test vehicle's Salsa Red Pearl paint job, blacks out most of the chrome bits in an effort to lend it an edgier, man van look.

Key Nightshade features include a black mesh grille, black door handles and mirror caps, blacked out badges, and an all-black interior that's good for hiding the dirt. It rolls on 19s with a six-spoke gunmetal-finish shod with P235/50R19 all-season rubber. Our van also included a Preferred Accessory Package ($473) that added a roof rack, door sill protectors, cargo net, and black wheel locks. It's not as cool looking as the more luxurious Toyota Alphard and Vellfire minivans sold in Japan since 2015, but it works.

The three-row Sienna seats up to eight passengers and is powered by a version of Toyota's 3.5-liter V-6 that lays down 296 horsepower and 263 lb-ft of torque. The engine runs on regular unleaded and is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. In our around town Los Angeles driving, the front-drive Sienna (it's still the only minivan to offer all-wheel drive) averaged about 22 mpg combined. Toyota boasts that the SE trim features a sport tuned steering and suspension, but there's nothing really that sporty about it to report—it's still a minivan, folks. That said, it can tow up to 3,500 pounds if properly equipped.

Arguably the best reason to consider a minivan over an SUV or crossover is the amount of stuff you can haul in one, and the Sienna has space for days. It offers a massive 150.0 cu-ft with the second-row seats removed and 117.8 cubes with the second-row seats folded down and moved all the way forward. With the seats all in place you still have 39.1 cu-ft behind the third row. I managed to squeeze in a giant inflatable kiddie pool and a 26-inch by 22-inch roller cabinet in there with plenty of room left over for another passenger or two.

Inside, the Sienna's interior feels dated, but it makes up for it by being very comfortable. Standard features on the Sienna SE Premium include a moonroof, power sliding doors, tri-zone climate control, a JBL Audio system with 10-speakers, and a 7.0-inch touchscreen setup. Toyota's dated infotainment system is Apple CarPlay friendly but not Android Auto—boo! It also comes with leather trimmed front seats, second row captain's chairs with a stowable center seat, and a dual view Blu-Ray entertainment system to keep the kiddos entertained on longer runs. The third row gets leatherette trim and the bench splits 60/40 or can be easily stowed away to allow for larger loads, plus there's a power liftgate that's also standard on the SE Premium trim. There're 12 cup holders for all of your beverages (10 if you opt for a seven-seater) and five USB charge ports—not too shabby. Standard tech goodies include Toyota Safety Sense that adds a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, brake assist, and more.

Yes, it's showing its age, but the Toyota Sienna is a still solid choice in the minivan segment and we're looking forward to seeing what the next gen model brings. In case you were wondering, Toyota, we'd be cool with the Vellfire.

2020 Toyota Sienna SE Specifications

ON SALE Now
PRICE $44,755/$45,993 (base/as-tested)
ENGINE 3.5L DOHC 24-valve V-6, 296 hp @ 6,600 rpm/263 lb-ft @ 4,700 rpm
TRANSMISSION 8-speed automatic
LAYOUT 4-door, 8-passenger, front-engine, FWD minivan
EPA MILEAGE 19/26 mpg (city/hwy)
L x W x H 200.6 x 78.1 x 70.7 in
WHEELBASE 119.3 in
WEIGHT 4,605 lb
0-60 MPH 7.8 sec (est)
TOP SPEED 120 mph (est)
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