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People don’t purchase a minivan because they love it. It’s definitely a necessity buy – as in – I need a minivan because it’s a major transporter that meets my family requirements, which could include sports considerations, school car-pooling or hauling around three or four of your kids and their friends every day.

Traditionally one of the better buys in the minivan class is the Toyota Sienna. It rivals the Honda Odyssey, but typically comes up just a little short. Other solid choices include the redesigned Kia Sedona, the Nissan Quest and the value-packed Dodge Grand Caravan.

To help narrow that gap with the Odyssey, Toyota did some upgrading with the 2015 Sienna. Among the changes were a new revised control layout, better interior materials, some minor exterior modifications, plus additional convenience features.

2015 Toyota Sienna

  • Performance: 3.5-liter, V6, 266 horsepower
  • Mileage estimate: 18-25 mpg
  • Estimated price: $28,600-$46,150
  • Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles; drivetrain: 5 years/60,000 miles; roadside assistance: 2 years/25,000; corrosion: 5 years/unlimited

The Sienna is an eight-passenger vehicle (seven seats with captain’s chairs) that offers comfortable seating, great storage room, user-friendly controls, and surprising performance, which is not what one typically expects from a minivan. Appearance-wise, this year’s model is sleeker with a streamlined grille, revised headlights and LED daytime running lights.

It has five trim selections – base L, LE, SE, XLE and Limited. The Sienna remains the only van to offer an all-wheel drive option. All models come standard with front-wheel drive with the exception of the LE, XLE and Limited, which have the all-wheel drive option.

What most folks will applaud is Sienna’s the new interior makeup. There is a revised dashboard layout with a standard Entune touchscreen multimedia system that has more intuitive controls that shouldn’t become a distraction for drivers. Toyota got rid of the hard plastic and replaced it with soft-touch materials. The Japanese manufacturer also added wood cabin accents.

There are other facets to the Sienna interior that haven’t been changed, but frankly didn’t need to be. It still has a class-leading 39.1 inches of cargo space behind the third row. When the third row is folded down, the storage room enlarges to 87.1 cubic feet. A knock on the interior is the second-row seats are difficult to remove.

Powered by one engine choice only, the Sienna features a 3.5-liter, V6 that produces 266 horsepower and 245 pound-feet of torque with a six-speed automatic transmission. The Sienna delivers good acceleration in all situations and has been clocked at 0-60 mph in 7.5 seconds, which is quick for the class. Gas mileage is a modest 18-25 mpg.

Besides the peppy acceleration, the Sienna delivers a quality ride that gives the driver a strong feeling of confidence when making challenging turns and having to stop abruptly.

Standard features are numerous in the Sierra, including 17-inch alloy wheels; towing package; manual sliding rear doors; triple-zone automatic climate control; height-adjustable driver seat; tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel; rearview camera; Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity; four-speaker sound system with 6.1-inch touchscreen; CD player; USB/iPod interface; auxiliary audio jack; stability and traction control; and full-length side curtain airbags.

When it comes to minivans, the Sienna has enjoyed an enviable reputation since being unveiled in 1997. It starts at a comparable price ($28,600) to the competition and other than the Odyssey, is as good as it gets in the minivan field. The upgrades for 2015 are substantial and will only add to the Sienna’s long-term reliability and great resale value.

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