Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A green 2022 Toyota Sienna is shown parked near a hiking trail.

Ignore Your Uninformed Neighbors: Why Buying a Minivan is Extremely Cool

Buying a car can be tricky for families with more than two kids. Why? Adding that third little bundle of joy complicates matters. For starters, someone is always downgraded to the middle seat to “ride the hump,” and guess who deals with the fallout: parents. The best way to stop the daily back seat sibling WWF cage match and save your sanity is to give in, trade the sports sedan or midsize crossover, and buy a 2022 Toyota Sienna.

The Sienna is a family room on wheels, which means you’re no longer intervening every time junior throws an elbow to eke out more space. Mid-row and back row passengers can spread out and relax. Unless your kids have wingspans like Shaq, they’ll have no choice but to keep their hands to themselves because they can’t reach without considerable effort. And, they’ll have better ways to occupy their time anyway.

Kids aren’t the only beneficiaries of the Sienna’s many gifts of convenience. Mom and Dad get an assist from the available kick-activated sliding doors and liftgate, and the whole family can shake off the neighbor’s minivan-related taunting knowing that the powerful hybrid engine and AWD powertrain outperforms their vanilla SUV. Look, the minivan is back. Unapologetically. Parenting is hard enough – treat yourself.

Kid-Friendly Features

Kids like technology, especially when they can control it. The 2022 Sienna offers an array of connected infotainment and touchscreen tech, as well as a robust onboard Wi-Fi hotspot feature that should keep everyone quiet and happily engaged. Toyota also scattered tons of USB charging ports throughout the Sienna’s cabin, which tells us at least one of their engineers endured a soul-numbing sibling smack fest over the phone charger.

Rear seat passengers will beg for long road trips so they can stream an uninterrupted Harry Potter marathon on the 11.6-inch 1080p HD rear entertainment center. Parents can even make the cabin movie theater dim with the available second and third-row sunshades, and kids can stretch out and extend the second-row ottomans built into the comfy reclining captain’s chairs for true theater-style lounging. The kid in the third row will be fine, especially if they get an iPad connected to the vehicle’s Wi-Fi.

The main front seat infotainment system offers Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Alexa compatibility, which helps occupants access smartphone content with an easy plug-and-play connection. Chances are not everyone will agree on a single source of entertainment, but with the Wi-Fi hotspot, it won’t matter. Toss in a basket of snacks, point out the four-zone climate control button, and you may never hear a chorus of are-we-there-yets again. Meanwhile, you can catch up on your favorite true-crime podcast pointed at the front speakers for blissful calm throughout the drive.

The second row entertainment center is shown in a 2022 Toyota Sienna.

Sanity Savers for Mom and Dad

No one buys a minivan solely for performance reasons, but minivan buyers aren’t stripped of all street cred. For 2022, Toyota offers a sole powertrain – a hybrid – that simultaneously delivers gusty horsepower and remarkable fuel economy. Available all-wheel drive means the Sienna works for families that like to stay active year-round. Will you corner like you’re on rails a la Lamborghini? Of course not, but you won’t be outworked by most midsize SUVs either.

Toyota knows that one of mom’s biggest gripes is keeping her eyes on the road while World War 3 breaks out in the back seat. Thankfully, Driver Easy Speak preserves the vocal cords and that last shred of sanity. With the touch of a button, the in-vehicle audio system becomes an intercom for clear sound quality that conveys your thinly veiled threats with menacing clarity. Peace and perfect harmony are literally a touch away.

Along with kid management capabilities, the Sienna’s cabin delivers adult luxuries like heated and ventilated seats and a 9-inch infotainment touchscreen centrally mounted on the dash. The screen is a hub for connectivity, including available turn-by-turn navigation. Upper trims like the Platinum feature a nice 12-speaker amplified JBL audio system, and the operating system’s robust connectivity makes streaming smartphone content simple.

Safety is an Actual Afterthought

Aside from cabin space, the biggest draw for minivan buyers is usually safety. The 2022 Sienna renders a discussion about safety features unnecessary. Buyers can simply count on the fact that it’s safe. Toyota has engineered too many redundant safety systems to count, including standard Toyota Safety Sense (TSS) 2.0 across the entire trim range.

A side-by-side comparison of the cheapest Sienna (LE FWD) and the most expensive trim (Platinum AWD) reveals the van’s safety parity. Toyota doesn’t discriminate against budget buyers, which is how it should be, especially in a family-focused segment. Everyone gets ten airbags and rear child door locks, along with a handy Hill Start Assist feature that eliminates rollback.

All Siennas also receive the Toyota Star Safety System combination of stability control, traction control, electronic braking assist, and start/stop technology. The story gets more interesting with TSS 2.0, a suite of six advanced semi-autonomous safety systems that are included on every Sienna. Also standard is a bonus pack of three more systems: Blind-Spot Monitor, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and Rear Cross Traffic Braking.

In fact, the only driver-assist feature not available as standard equipment on the LE is Front and Rear Parking Assist with Automatic Braking. When it comes to safety, buyers with less than $40,000 to spend will appreciate escaping the FOMO that usually accompanies buying an entry trim. Safety isn’t sexy, but it becomes extremely important if it’s lacking on a family car.

A woman is shown sitting in the rear cargo space of a 2022 Toyota Sienna near a lake.

Go. Buy. A. Minivan. Today.

At this point, the pros of buying a minivan so heavily outweigh the cons that there’s really only one remaining barrier: appearance. Lucky for 2022 model year buyers, Toyota completely redesigned the Sienna, eliminating the telltale minivan-esque design aesthetic. Replacing it is a boxier SUV-like body style, complete with a flat hood and more angular side panels.

Larger families simply won’t find another body style that complements the multi-kid lifestyle more effectively than a minivan. If your family is cooler and more outdoorsy than everyone else’s, just get a Sienna Woodland Edition. It’s lifted (albeit .6 inches, but enough to humblebrag on the sidelines of your kid’s next soccer game), has standard AWD, and includes a set of roof racks and a tow hitch.

All told, there are six Sienna trims, ten exterior colors, and enough luxury and convenience features to satisfy even the rowdiest brood. The hybrid powertrain means passing by more gas stations than you’ll visit, and power everything allows for hands-free errands. You can even use Toyota’s robust connected services to remote start your Sienna for a cozy transition from your warm house on a cold winter’s morning.

Imagine a typical weekday morning in your multi-kid household: you’re rushing around making breakfast, hauling kids out of bed, and stuffing wayward homework assignments in Jansport backpacks. The clock’s ticking, and your nerves are frayed. Everyone’s dragging their feet until you smile and announce that, when they last left off, Harry was about to settle the score with Voldemort. Who wants to see how it ends?

Instead of tears and tantrums, your little army of ankle-biters is excitedly clamoring to take their seats. You’ve already selected your carpool playlist and set the seat heater. Next up? Fifteen blissful minutes of driving enjoyment, sipping your coffee and tapping your fingers to the beat of your favorite music, without the cacophony of sibling strife. Family life is better in a Toyota Sienna.