The Evolution of the Toyota Sienna

Posted Wednesday, May 17, 2017 by North Hollywood Toyota

The Toyota Sienna made its first appearance at Toyota dealers in Los Angeles and throughout the country in the fall of 1997 as a 1998 model. The Sienna was released to replace the Previa van line and was designed to be more competitive with other minivans on the market. The first-generation Sienna offered the highest fuel economy for minivans, during this time, getting an average of 16 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway.


The minivan was offered in several different trim options, as well as the top-of-the-line XLE model with leather seats and a wood trim package. It even received one of the highest safety ratings for minivans on the market at that time. The first generation of Sienna minivans went through some minor updates and refreshes until it was replaced by the second generation in 2003 as a 2004 model year.

This new generation of Toyota’s minivan featured a complete redesign and expanded features and options, like seating for eight passengers and flat folding rear seats to make it easy to haul larger items, without having to remove the rear seats. As technology had been evolving alongside the minivan, so, too, did the types of technological updates offered on the second generation Sienna, which included:

•    Remote Keyless Entry
•    Xenon Headlights
•    Backup Camera
•    Navigation System (Voice Activated on 2005 and later model years)
•    DVD Entertainment System
•    10 Speaker JBL Sound System
•    Tire Pressure Monitoring System
•    Antilock Brakes with Braking Assist

Other Features

Another distinguishing feature offered on 2004 to 2007 model year Siennas was a towing package, as the minivan was designed to tow up to 3,500 pounds. Toyota was also the first to offer all-wheel drive on its minivans during this generation, as well as innovative tires that could still be driven on while completely flat.  The fuel economy was slightly improved on front-wheel drive models, and the all-wheel drive had the same fuel economy as the first-generation Sienna.

There were several refreshes of the van during various model years, with new technology offerings like Bluetooth. Toyota also upgraded the engines from a 3.3-ltr. to a 3.5-ltr., starting in the 2007 model year, as it offered better fuel economy. The second generation remained pretty much unchanged for the 2008, 2009, and 2010 model years.


The third and current generation of the Sienna debuted in 2010 as a 2011 model. There were many enhancements made over the previous generation, most notably the introduction of five trim packages, optional 4-cyclinder engines, and recliner-style seating. The 4-cylinder engine option was discontinued after the 2013 model year. Toyota also brought back the optional towing package.

The 2015 model year saw a minor update in the design, along with the introduction of new colors and enhanced technology improvements. For the 2017 model year, the Sienna added a new 3.5-ltr. V-6 engine to help boost power and improve fuel economy up to an average 22 mpg (19 mpg city/27 mph highway), and it continues to be the only minivan on the market with an all-wheel drive option. To check out the Sienna and current features and options, please feel free to stop by North Hollywood Toyota or call us at (818) 508-2967 today!