Into the Woods

By Derek Price

People who like outdoor adventures and the undeniable practicality of a minivan can find both in the Toyota Sienna Woodland Edition.

Designed with the outdoors in mind, this family-friendly vehicle makes it a little easier to get to campsites with extra ground clearance, all-wheel drive, a 1,500-watt power inverter, roof rails and a tow hitch capable of pulling 3,500 pounds.

It’s clearly not designed to replace a Jeep Wrangler — the ground clearance is 6.9 inches, just six tenths more than the standard Sienna — but it does provide peace of mind on dirt roads and a compelling reason to choose a minivan over an SUV or crossover without sacrificing practicality and fuel efficiency.

If the car-picking process were purely logical, every American family would be driving a van like this. It makes so much sense for so many purposes, from its power-sliding doors to its voluminous interior, video screens for kids, massive storage space in back and low ride height for loading people and cargo. It’s a very comfortable way to travel with lots of people and all their stuff.

Black badges and roughly half an inch of extra ground height make the Toyota Sienna Woodland Edition stylish and capable.

Best of all, you can do all that without sacrificing fuel economy.

Toyota made the bold decision to only offer the Sienna with a hybrid powertrain starting last year. That means even if you pick the all-wheel-drive version, you’ll be getting 35 mpg in city driving and 36 on the highway, according to the wonks in Washington.

That’s the kind of gas mileage tiny compact cars got a few years ago, and it astonishes me that a van this size can achieve that level of efficiency. Kudos to the engineers at Toyota for figuring it out.

My Woodland Edition tester felt soft and comfortable, exactly like a Sienna should. Over 25 years, Toyota has cemented this van’s role as comfy, squishy, quiet, reliable family hauler, and the 2023 version is no exception.

People who want a more engaging, connected driving feel would be happier with the Honda Odyssey. The current Chrysler Pacifica seems to split the difference between the two.

A large touchscreen dominates the center of the dash in the new generation Sienna, which debuted in 2021.

To me, the Sienna’s soft ride is one of its best selling points. This is exactly what many people desire for long road trips, a situation where minivans truly excel.

One downside is the inability to remove the Sienna’s second-row seats. That eliminates a key feature of vans — the completely flat loading floor when you need it for hauling big furniture or other items — and is the only noticeable blemish in its otherwise brilliantly designed cabin.

On the bright side, those second-row seats are easy to slide forward and back on tracks built into the floor. With one touch, you can slide them all the way to the front to make room for cargo or third-row passengers. You can also slide them extremely far back to leave Rolls-Royce-like legroom in the second row.

Pricing for the Sienna starts at $36,885. The Woodland Edition is priced at $47,695, while the Platinum, which tops the lineup, offers Lexus-like amenities for $52,345.

At A Glance

What was tested? 2023 Toyota Sienna XLE AWD Woodland Edition ($47,695). Options: Rear-seat entertainment system ($1,415), temporary spare tire ($75), mudguards ($149), illuminated door sills ($345). Price as tested (including $1,335 destination charge): $51,014
Wheelbase: 120.5 in.
Length: 203.7 in.
Width: 78.5 in.
Height: 69.7 in.
Power: 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and 134-kW electric motor (245 combined system horsepower)
Transmission: Continuously variable
Fuel economy: 35 city, 36 highway


Style: 7
Performance: 6
Price: 8
Handling: 5
Ride: 9
Comfort: 9
Quality: 10
Overall: 8

Why buy it?
Only available as hybrid, the current generation Sienna is remarkably efficient for such a spacious, family-friendly vehicle. The Woodland Edition adds confidence and creature comforts useful when leaving the pavement.

Posted in Toyota