From wide-opening sliding side doors to crazy-big cargo-carrying capabilities, minivans exist because of the practicality they offer. The spacious Sienna is a survivor in the minivan segment, and the Toyota has been on sale without a major redesign for many years. The Sienna still sells well, though, and we wanted to discover what works and what doesn’t in the minivan’s interior. So keep reading for more insights on the interior of our $45,060 Sienna Limited tester, and check out our full 2018 Sienna First Test review, too.
Go Ahead—Press On It
The Sienna Limited features soft, leatherlike material on the door panels, on the top of the dash, and in front of the storage compartment on the passenger side of the dash. The trim and the soft perforated leather seats effectively communicate that this isn’t a base-model minivan. Considering how long the current-generation Sienna has been around, editor-in-chief Ed Loh was pleasantly surprised by how good everything looked.
If you’re only traveling with passengers in the second row and not the third, the Limited’s second-row footrests are a really cool addition to the interior. Send the manually operated second-row seats to their rearmost position, and second-row passengers can enjoy the reclinable footrest.
Room for Seven (or Eight)
Unless you plan to fill every seat in your eight-passenger Sienna on a regular basis, consider the seven-passenger variant with second-row captain’s chairs so accessing the third row is a little easier. On front-drive models—the Sienna also offers all-wheel drive—the seven-passenger layout is included on the L and Limited models.
The Sienna has lots of interior space; adjust the three rows of seats appropriately, and you can comfortably fit adults in the first two rows and slightly shorter, limber adults in the third row, too. The backs of the front seats are soft (except for a pair of hooks on their inner edge), a helpful detail for riders behind that might occasionally press their knees into the backs of those seats. One cool feature: The third-row seats on our Limited tester had power-reclining backrests.
Folding, Please Wait
Front-drive Limiteds like our tester also get power-folding third-row seats. Push and hold a button at the top of the liftgate to make the seats go away—the system works, but we wish it moved a little faster. The manually operated alternative on other Siennas might be a little quicker but does require more effort.
Mine is Bigger (and Smaller) Than Yours
A 7.0-inch touchscreen is standard on even the base 2018 Sienna L, which is a cool feature if you’re considering base-model minivans. A 5.0-inch screen is standard on the 2018 Sedona and 2018 Odyssey, though the 2019 Sedona makes a 7.0-inch screen standard. Even on the higher Sienna Limited trim, a 7.0-inch screen is standard, down in size compared to the 8.0-inch units available on the Sedona and Odyssey or the 8.4-inch unit available on the Pacifica. While we had our Sienna Limited, our tester’s infotainment system didn’t always turn on when we started the car—it’s unclear if this was unique to our tester.
Turn it Up
We hope a future Sienna will have a volume knob that’s bigger and positioned a tad away from the touchscreen for easier and quicker control. Already, the Sienna Limited’s HVAC knobs—one for the driver’s temperature, another for the front passenger, and a third for the temperature for rear passengers—are huge.
CarPlay Somewhere Else
Toyota is starting to roll out Apple CarPlay on vehicles including the 2019 Avalon and 2019 Corolla hatchback, but the 2018 Sienna still goes without this extremely useful tech. If minivans are supposed to make their owners’ lives easier and less stressful, we look forward to a future Sienna including this feature to facilitate all kinds of tasks, from easy voice-commanded text message responses to navigation to places where you don’t have an exact address. Although it’s not quite the same, we appreciate that the Sienna’s available navigation system can be programmed with simple “Get directions to …” voice prompts.
Make the Cupholder Deeper, Please
When it comes to the built-in cupholders at the front of the Sienna’s enormous closed storage compartment, my notes on our 2018 tester matched what I wrote about a 2015 model I drove—larger bottles still have trouble staying put when the Sienna goes around curves. Considering the depth of that central storage compartment, maybe a future Sienna can carve out more of that compartment for the cupholders.
Could Use An Update
Aside from the central screen size, a couple other minor details hint at the Sienna’s age. As mentioned in our full Sienna Limited First Test review, the tire pressure monitoring system doesn’t provide a readout that displays the PSI at each tire, and the power liftgate only opens itself if you press a button from inside the car or on the key fob—you have to open it yourself if you’re behind the minivan.
Overall, the 2018 Toyota Sienna Limited’s interior is good but not great. Although there are a few details that could be updated, especially on a model as expensive as our $45,060 tester, the Sienna is still as spacious as it was when this generation made its original debut for the 2011 model year. Even though the front-drive XLE model loses the Limited’s seven-passenger layout, that sub-$40,000 model marks a better value without cutting so much content that the value-priced low-end Kia Sedona and Chrysler Pacifica models start to make more sense.