2023 Toyota Sienna XSE

Perhaps the biggest reason a minivan will always reign supreme over a three-row crossover is cargo space.
Perhaps the biggest reason a minivan will always reign supreme over a three-row crossover is cargo space.

by Nick Tragianis | March 28, 2023


Hey, you there! We see you, sizing up that Highlander because you have another kid on the way, and your RAV4 will no longer cut it. Well, allow us to make your life much easier. Stereotypes be damned, skip the Highlander and just go straight for the 2023 Toyota Sienna XSE.

Much ado has been made about SUVs and crossovers killing off sedans, wagons, and anything else without body cladding, but nobody sheds a tear about minivans — long live the Ford Windstar, Hyundai Entourage, and Mercury Villager — because we’re conditioned to believe they’re “uncool.” That’s a load of poppycock and gobbledygook; when it comes to all-out practicality, it’s hard to beat a minivan. Toyota has known this for a very long time, and this year, it’s celebrating the occasion with a special edition package available this year on the Sienna XSE. Now that’s commitment.

This year marks the second since Toyota went with an all-hybrid lineup for the Sienna. On paper, it’s promising. A 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine hooked up to three electric motors — two up front, and AWD models get a third in the rear — and a 1.9 kWh battery produce a modest 245 net horsepower. Sure, it’s enough for this big box to get out of its own way, but if you’re coming from an older V6 Sienna, you’ll definitely miss the grunt. More importantly, the hybrid powertrain promises 6.6 L/100 km in the city, 6.5 highway, and 6.6 combined for front-wheel-drive Siennas. AWD models are a little thirstier, at 6.8 city, 6.6 highway, and 6.7 combined.

In practice, the Sienna starts off quite nicely. Silently booting around town using only electrons is quite calming, and we can even cover quite a few blocks on a downhill and if you’re delicate with the throttle. Plus, the suspension soaks up potholes and construction-scarred pavement quite well, and the lifeless but effortless steering makes u-turns and parallel parking easy. 

But the more you work the gas, the more the Sienna leaves to be desired. The switch from electric to gas is jarring, more so because you hear it, owing to the four-cylinder engine’s coarse soundtrack and exacerbated by the CVT. Moreover, while road noise is well-contained, there’s a surprising amount of wind noise at speed. Oh, and while 245 horsepower might seem like enough at first, the Sienna isn’t zippy by any means. 

Fortunately, fuel economy isn’t too much of a real-world letdown, but that depends on how tough of a customer you are. We battled a snowstorm, used the remote starter generously, and covered more than a few trips from Toronto to Hamilton (and back, and back again) with our all-wheel-drive tester, averaging 8.7 L/100 km through it all. That’s quite a ways off from Natural Resources Canada’s rating of 6.7 combined, but an improvement over the 9.4 L/100 km last year’s Sienna landed on in similar conditions. Your mileage may vary, indeed.

At this point, you’re probably wondering what the 25th anniversary edition trimmings entail beyond the requisite badges and cosmetic tweaks. We’re not sure how to break it to you, but on the surface, that’s basically it. Silver and white are your only two exterior colour options, and you also get black accents, some cool-looking light-up door sills and other cosmetic tweaks inside, and the requisite “25th Anniversary” badging on the lift gate and carpets (or embroidery, in the case of the carpets). 

The 25th anniversary package also adds a number of features to the mid-range Sienna XSE that were previously exclusive to the range-topping Limited trim. Stuff like power-folding mirrors, a power-adjustable steering column, ventilated front seats with memory pre-sets — seriously, when you have two drivers in the house, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without this — and sliding second-row seats with built-in ottomans are also included, making the $4,670 cost of the package a little more justifiable. 

The rest of the Sienna remains unchanged, for better or worse. The seats are comfortable, visibility is great, and the built-in ottomans make for some surprisingly relaxed passengers. But the Sienna’s infotainment continues to be a letdown, with graphics better suited to an old Windows computer and some of the lowest-res backup camera feeds we’ve seen in a long time. Fortunately, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, although you still have to plug in your phone. Here’s hoping an update to Toyota’s new system, as seen in the new Tundra, Venza, and a handful of others, is around the corner. 

Perhaps the biggest reason a minivan will always reign supreme over a three-row crossover is cargo space. The Sienna is no exception, measuring in at 948 litres with the third row up, and 2,129 with them stowed. The Highlander punches in at a paltry 453 litres behind the third row, 1,370 behind the second, and 2,387 with everything stowed. Unfortunately, you can’t remove the Sienna’s second row for a truly flat load floor, but with the seats contorted and slid fully forward, you have 2,860 litres in total. It’s very impressive — minivans can just take so much stuff — but if you want a flat load floor, you’ll need to consider the Sienna’s fully gas-powered rivals.

Price-wise, the Sienna covers a wide spread. The base, front-wheel-drive Sienna LE kicks off at $42,150, and runs up to $60,390 for the loaded-up Limited. This particular Sienna — the XSE with the oh-so-special 25th Anniversary trimmings and loaded up with a handful of bells and whistles from the Limited, occupies the mid-to-upper end of the lineup, at $54,360 as-tested. 

Minivans may not enjoy the popularity they once did, but you know, it’s only a matter of time people turned their noses up at SUVs and crossovers because that’s what their parents drove, and that’s therefore uncool. Until that renaissance happens, the 2023 Toyota Sienna will soldier on as an efficient, roomy, and definitely not fast SUV-alternative for those with a lot of stuff.

See Also:

2022 Kia Carnival SX

2023 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

2022 Honda Odyssey Touring

Vehicle Specs
Engine Size
2.5L inline-four hybrid
Horsepower (at RPM)
Torque (lb-ft.)
Fuel Efficiency (L/100km, City/Highway/Combined)
Observed Fuel Efficiency (L/100km)
Cargo Capacity (in L)
Base Price (CAD)
As-Tested Price (CAD)
The DoubleClutch.ca Podcast

About Nick Tragianis

Managing Editor

Nick has more than a decade of experience shooting and writing about cars, and as a journalism grad, he's a staunch believer of the Oxford Comma despite what the Canadian Press says. He’s a passionate photographer and loves exploring the open road in anything he gets his hands on.

Current Toys: '90 MX-5 Miata, '00 M5, '16 GTI Autobahn