By on March 22, 2017

2018 Toyota Sienna Limited - Image: ToyotaSurely it’s time for a new minivan from Toyota. Despite significant interior updates for the 2015 model year and significant powertrain improvements for 2017, the third-generation Toyota Sienna that launched in 2010 is still kickin’, seven years later.

First, the 2015 Kia Sedona shook things up. Then the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica confounded expectations. Landing shortly is the 2018 Honda Odyssey, which won’t surprise anyone if it’s the best in its class.

Clearly then, it’s your turn, Toyota.

Uh… Toyota, hello? Paging Toyota. Call for Toyota on Line 1, all-new Sienna required on the Princeton, Indiana, production line.

The 2018 Toyota Sienna gets a facelift. A refresh. An update. A refurb. What’s up with that?

The 2015 Kia Sedona, launched late in 2014, brought a new level of luxury to America’s minivan segment. Though not a dynamic tour de force, the third-generation Sedona’s interior instantly caused segment leaders from FCA, Honda, and Toyota to feel decidedly industrial.

2016 hosted the arrival of an all-new minivan from the segment progenitor: Chrysler. The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica is now the minivan of the moment; if not the best minivan purchase then still the best current minivan in which to spend time and drive.

The 2018 Honda Odyssey, meanwhile, was unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit two months ago and arrives at dealers soon. Boasting class-leading fuel economy (Pacifica Plug-in excluded), a new second-row seating arrangement, and vastly improved NVH, the new Odyssey is likely to move the game forward yet again.

Now that it’s the Sienna’s turn, Toyota is seemingly exercising a high degree of caution. Is Toyota unsure about investing too heavily in a segment in which volume has declined by nearly one-fifth over the last six months? Or was the fourth-generation Sienna sent back to the drawing board once Toyota saw how far forward the Pacifica and Odyssey leapt?

“Toyota is very committed to Sienna as it continues to be one of our core products,” Toyota spokesperson Sam Butto told TTAC this afternoon.

While declining to comment on future products, Butto says, “The current generation Sienna launched for the 2011 model year, so I would not say it is quite overdue for a next-generation launch.” Indeed, the first and second iterations of the Sienna lingered for seven model years.

We can read between the lines. “Mid-cycle enhancements, or minor changes, are very common before a next-generation launch,” Butto said, perhaps hinting at what’s to come in 2019 or 2020.

To be fair, the 2018 Toyota Sienna that will be officially unveiled at the New York International Auto Show in April is different. Toyota radically improved the third-gen Sienna’s interior already. Toyota distinctly upgraded the powertrain once, as well, making the Sienna the most powerful minivan on sale in America.

For 2018, the Sienna looks demonstrably different, inheriting a nose more akin to the 2018 Camry’s: massive, rectangular lower intake accompanied by an upper grille that squeezes a low-slung badge between two broad nostrils.

All models also receive the current Sienna SE’s side lower rockers.2018 Toyota Sienna Limited interior - Image: ToyotaBut there’s no mistaking this for anything other than a third-gen Toyota Sienna, not on the outside, and not on the inside, where a new infotainment unit known as Entune 3.0 includes standard (basic) navigation.

Toyota Safety Sense-P, with pre-collision/pedestrian detection, radar cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assist, and auto high beams, is also standard on all trims for 2018. Upgrading from L to LE, SE, or XLE will bring 4G LTE capability for five mobile devices. Upgraded JBL audio is optional on the SE and XLE, Toyota says, and standard fit on the Limited. That audio upgrade brings with it upgraded navigation, as well. NVH improvements, by way of a laminated front windshield, have trickled down to the SE, though acoustic front row side glass is reserved for the Limited. There are three new colors, updated rear seat entertainment, and — scanning the press release — larger fog lights, “to convey a stronger presence.”

Yet this 2018 Sienna is the same as the 2017 Sienna, so it’s unlikely that the possession of stronger foglight presence will translate to a stronger marketplace presence. Competitors are primed to grab more market share.

Granted, the Sienna isn’t presently in a terrible place. The Toyota was America’s best-selling minivan nameplate in each of the last two years, though sales fell 28 percent through the first one-sixth of 2017, following the trend of the segment at large.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

44 Comments on “All-New Toyota Sienna? Not Yet: Toyota Facelifts And Updates The Seven-Year-Old Sienna, Again...”


  • avatar
    Corey Lewis

    The massive lower grille is like when kids play the game with string wrapped around and between their hands, making shapes.

    • 0 avatar
      indi500fan

      Yeah, looks like it’s getting ready to shred small animals.

    • 0 avatar
      BigOldChryslers

      In silver, it will look like a Cylon from the original Battlestar Gallactica series.

      • 0 avatar
        N8iveVA

        Looks at this. I thought the same thing about Cylons when looking at the 2017 Highlander in silver at the auto show.

        http://www.bing.com/images/search?view=detailV2&ccid=ZvuamyET&id=71A14888EFC5EB16439DA0E026A9A9AD9C3BED4C&q=toyota+highlander+2017&simid=608015904191548086&selectedIndex=42&ajaxhist=0

    • 0 avatar
      John-95_Taurus_3.0_AX4N

      And you just know that 90% of it is blocked off for aero, and is therefore pointless.

      I realize a lot of cars are going this way, that doesn’t mean I, or we, have to like it.

      I miss the 1990s, when if they wanted a no-grille design, they did it right. My Taurus, the Civic from the 1980s up until 1995, the Lexus SC, lots of cars that looked perfectly fine with a blocked off front end that didn’t have a useless grille on top of it.

      Toyota seems the most apt at this practice currently, having a massive “grille” that is mostly black solid plastic. See current Avalon, Camry, Corolla and now this.

      • 0 avatar
        Corey Lewis

        In the photo above, you can tell how it’s all blocked off. I feel like Toyota has just started down this styling road (so many years ago now) and feels like they can’t stop.

        • 0 avatar
          John-95_Taurus_3.0_AX4N

          Yes. I guess its why Ford is clinging to the Aston grille. There is only so much you can do with safety regulations and other factors that have pretty much morphed every car into the same blob with slightly different lipstick.

          Its not like you can add tail fins or Dagmars (not that I particularly like either of those) today. NHTSA would LOL at you if you brought something that looked like a 1957 Chevy.

      • 0 avatar
        Dave M.

        I have to respectfully disagree. I hated those designs – from Mitsubishi Mirage on up to the Infiniti Q45. Cars just don’t look right without a grille….

  • avatar
    RHD

    The bulges and globs make it look like the designer of the Nissan Juke took a busman’s holiday over at Toyota.

    • 0 avatar
      John-95_Taurus_3.0_AX4N

      He must have done it with the C-HR. Its nothing but a Toyota Juke with a distinctly Honda-esque name.

      Seriously, could they not have picked some other combination of letters that weren’t ones from Honda’s smaller CUV lineup?

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Ugh. Honestly, the current Sienna is still competitive and it would be fine to facelift it a second time (Ford’s gotten away with such shenanigans for years) if it didn’t suddenly just get uglier. Toyota’s recent styling really leaves me cold. And haunts my dreams.

    • 0 avatar
      John-95_Taurus_3.0_AX4N

      I’d say Toyota has been the most prolific at facelift-will-do jobs, their larger FWD cars/CUVs are on architecture that dates back to 2003.

      I know the Taurus and your MKS dates back to 2005 with the introduction of the Five Hundred, as do the other D3-related vehicles. I don’t believe the platform was entirely new then, I believe Volvo had been using it before that.

      The Fusion dates to 2013 I believe, and the Focus and Fiesta there abouts as well, but I don’t think any current Ford dates back to 2003 or earlier now that the Super Duty has been fully redesigned and the E-Series is all but gone.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        Yeah, the D3 platform is based on a Volvo platform, but based on the general big-body stance and proportions of those vehicles—which ape their Volvo counterparts—I’d say Ford changed enough of it for it to be considered a new platform at the time.

        Besides, I’m not even talking about using a platform for 13 years; that’s something all of the automakers do.

        I’m talking about how Ford has historically use the same bodyshell for ten or twelve years, but then do a heavy facelift halfway between. Or two heavy facelifts, in the case of the Expedition and Navigator, which have been around since 2003. For the most part, it’s a compliment to Ford’s stylists that the company is able to do that, whereas your average Hyundai looks stale by year four.

        P.S…I have named the MKS “Missy”…as in “Elliott.” And my best friend has named his 2017 Volt “Lil’ Kim”.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      Yeah, the new exterior designs are getting “sketchy” as my kid says. But one direction I do like is their interior designs lately…

  • avatar
    arach

    I know the joke that Minivans are “vacuum Cleaners”

    But that LITERALLY looks like a Vacuum Cleaner. Like the grill looks like the inlet, and if it had a handle (which it might be a pull out handle on top?), it could actually be a vacuum cleaner.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Lexus’s current design is Predator face. Toyota’s current styling is goblin shark.

  • avatar
    Rday

    I was the happy owner of a 2010 Sienna and it was arguably one of the best cars i ever owned. NEVER had to take it to the dealer for ANYTHING. This is what i love about toyotas. the public has learned this also, so while it may not be the newest design, it is the most reliable and trouble free minivans out there. As long as the electronics are the best in the industry and the interior is great, why look at these other questionable minivans. And yes, Honda has had their share of problems with the Odyssey which has a timing belt that is expensive to replace.
    And only a neophyte would look at any FCA minivan or any of their other products. The public knows what is good in the automotive marketplace just like they are aware of ‘the fake news media’.

  • avatar
    quaquaqua

    Too outdated, but not nearly as bad as the Grand Caravan, soooo it gets a pass for another year or two.

    I just want a Transit Connect sized minivan that doesn’t look like a Transit Connect. Is that so much to ask for?

  • avatar
    Corollaman

    Why would they invest a lot of money into a dying segment, they need to introduce a better small CUV than that ugly HR whatever it’s called.

  • avatar
    PentastarPride

    It’s still ugly, as expected. 98% of 2017 cars are ugly.

    I was thinking to myself about this ugly epidemic when I was stuck in traffic the other day behind a 1996-ish Explorer. I marveled at how much better it looked than the contraption that Ford now produces under the Explorer name.

    Ugly is the killer feature. Clean, classy and conservative is no longer.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      Agreed Pentastar.

      In retrospect, the 1990s SUVs look very purposeful and rough and tumble. A two-tone Explorer in either blue/red/green over tan with a nice set of alloy wheels looks much more handsome than any of the current neutered CUV blobs which replaced them (and for most consumers, for good reason I suppose). A clean older SUV always catches my eye. I can honestly see car shows in about 20 years featuring Eddie Bauer Explorers and Expeditions, Tahoes, Grand Cherokees, etc.

  • avatar
    doghouse

    Until another minivan comes out in AWD, I will continue to buy the Sienna. You bet, I’d love to have a Pacifica, with all of the awesome bells and whistles, but, if you live where it snows AWD us great. My minivan I’d a dog house. I don’t even have kids, so I don’t really care what it looks like as long as it can haul around 3 or 4 dogs at a time, safely. Yes, I’ve tried several SUV products and they are too tall for old dogs to climb into safely. Alaska resident.

  • avatar
    JayDub

    Late last year I leased an AWD Sienna XLE in metallic grey with leather for 0 down and $500 per month. 15K miles annually. This is my first van (since age 16 when I used Mom’s custom dodge van!). I have to say, after owning several 4WD SUV’s and trucks, that I love this Sienna. My family and I call it the travel pod. Skiing, surfing, snow sports, camping, road trips…it does it all. Some co-workers might give me grief it isn’t the sexiest vehicle. As a father of three young kids, I think those joking critics are idiots. Even my wife has converted to loving our Sienna. Fear the man-van!

    That stated, sometimes the automatic sliding doors (and other rear door/hatch electronics) seem a little janky. For that reason alone, I look forward to seeing future generations of the Sienna.

  • avatar
    jthorner

    Calling that a face lift is an insult to plastic surgeons everywhere.

  • avatar
    doghouse

    I wish Mazda would come out with an AWD Minivan. I had an MPV for years (even drove it over the AlCan Highway-both directions), it was an amazing, good-looking van. However, major drag to change out tires twice a year, with the studded snow tires being a must. I’m not thrilled about the overall “look” of my 2017 AWD XLE Sienna, but it’s a great, dependable, van and the color choices are great. At least it’s better looking than the Nissan Quest!

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      dog house was your MPV one of the older RWD-based ones?

      My family still owns a ’98 MPV Allsport 4wd (and an ’89 rwd 4cyl variant), it was our main family car from 2001 until 2012 or so when I was gifted it as a vehicle to take with me when I graduated college. I really wish someone could recreate that formula now: more serious offroad chops than something like a crossover (key being a solid rear axle and “true” 4wd), but with the interior layout of a minivan for maximum utility and comfort. I’ve taken that MPV on some fire roads that would definitely stump most crossovers by way of either ground clearance or off-camber situations where they would run out of suspension travel. Those old MPVs are also not bad to work on owing to the longitudinal engine placement and simple drivetrain arrangement.

      • 0 avatar
        doghouse

        I wish my MPV was a ’98 MPV Allsport 4wd. I had the proverbial “next generation” version-1999 NO 4Wd or AWD, It was FWD. That’s why I had to add studded snow tires every winter. However, it was still a fantastic minivan. I loved the look and the versatility of the interior. I always wanted one of the Allsports, but, they were too expensive at the time, plus, they only had one sliding door and I wanted two. I’m in Anchorage now, and I still see a few of those Allsports, running about town, and they still look awesome! I say “the boxier, the better”! Today’s cars are too egg shaped for my liking. I’m not tall but I imagine this trend must be annoying to taller folks.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          doghouse small correction, the MK1 MPVs actually had swing-open doors, never sliders. After ’96 IIRC a second door was added, and they basically had an SUV form factor by that point. We definitely love ours, and continue to pour money into them as the rust-monster slowly takes hold of both.

          • 0 avatar
            doghouse

            temnykh, thank you for the info on the doors on the MPV. I’ve seen at least two different ones out here in Anchorage, and despite Anchorage’s location at sea level, with a coastline, rust is not a problem. The one’s running around out here look great! I really do hope Mazda comes out with a real minivan for the 21st century market, and resist as the temptation to create another egg shaped POS. I really don’t understand the marketing tactic of changing something that works so well!

  • avatar
    don1967

    Extended product cycles are good for the resale value of older model years that would otherwise fade into obsolescence. Especially when the newer ones have been hit with an ugly stick.

  • avatar
    N8iveVA

    Man they sure beat that with the corporate ugly stick.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Look at that interior: big buttons, big knobs, normal shifter.

    The exterior design…isn’t great…but many, many OEMs could learn a thing or two from the interior ergonomics on display here.

  • avatar

    And it remains the last minivan on the market with a SOLID REAR AXLE for at least a couple more years…

  • avatar
    sckid213

    “All models also receive the current Sienna SE’s side lower rockers.”

    I think they HAD to add the rockers to all trims just to balance out the massive revised front clip. Gluing on huge front clips like this (like they just did to the Corolla) reminds me of when GM kept “updating” the Cavalier / Sunfire by throwing on longer and longer (and uglier) front ends.

    This refresh makes me appreciate the conservative simplicity of the first-gen Sienna, gray bumpers and all!

  • avatar
    Chan

    Why does anyone expect a new model cycle every 6 years? If the feature set and powertrains are upgraded to remain competitive, there is no reason to completely redesign everything.

    The Camry has basically been the same platform since 2006, with incremental upgrades and updates over the years.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • wolfwagen: Inside What if the feature is used to collect data about ANTIFA (Which are using fascist tactics to get...
  • Jeff S: Would you be fine with the state coming to your home and looking thru your drawers and files? I don’t...
  • ras815: Exactly – the government has always been able to get the information they wanted on their targets, and...
  • Art Vandelay: Source?
  • Art Vandelay: I would think that with all your Trolling for Mother Russia Vlad would get you a car that was less of a...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber