Toyota Sienna Woodland’s First Test: Is it a Deception?

If you can make it look like an SUV, you’ll have a great three-row family vehicle.

 

So, let’s get this over with. In the Woodland edition tested here, Toyota increased the 2022 Sienna’s ground clearance from 6.3 to 6.9 inches, but it doesn’t transform it into a trail-ready adventure van. Instead, it appears that the slight lift has a negative impact on the performance and efficiency of this otherwise excellent family hauler. Its rear doors can either swing or slide, but in every other way, the Sienna Woodland is an excellent alternative to any other three-row family car on the market.

In the Woods

For one thing, the Sienna Woodland is more than just a tiny lift kit. There is also a tow hitch, roof rails, thick rubber floormats, and a 1,500-watt power inverter to help you get the most out of your time on the road, which are all unique to the Woodland. Second-row captain’s chairs are standard on every Sienna Woodland, making it possible to accommodate seven passengers. A 12-speaker JBL audio system and in-dash navigation are among the vehicle’s many technological enhancements. The Sienna Woodland sits between the XSE and Limited trim levels, with a starting MSRP of $46,715. With each sale, Toyota gives the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) $250.

 

Acceleration in the Trees

Each 2022 Sienna will be powered by a 2.5-liter I-4 and CVT-equipped hybrid system that sends power to the front wheels. Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive adds two electric motors to the engine, while AWD models like the Woodland get an additional electric motor to turn the rear wheels. Both systems work in concert. The engine generates 245 horsepower and over 176 pound-feet of torque. When it comes to Toyota’s HSD models, the company typically does not provide a combined torque figure.

 

In spite of this, we found that the Woodland Sienna was significantly slower than other models. It took 8.5 seconds to go from 0 to 60 mph, and the quarter mile only took 16.5 seconds at an average speed of 84.5 mph. If you’re looking for a fast car, you might want to look elsewhere. The EPA estimates that a Platinum AWD Sienna can go from zero to 60 mph in 7.6 seconds and cover the quarter-mile in 15.8 seconds. With a 0-60 mph time of 8.4 seconds, the Highlander Hybrid, Toyota’s more popular three-row hybrid, shares the same powertrain.

 

The hybrid system has both advantages and disadvantages in everyday use. Its electric motors are quiet, smooth, and responsive when operated off the line and at low speeds. Even in all-electric mode, the Sienna can travel a few blocks, but only at a very low speed. It’s hard to get a good night’s sleep when the I-4 gasoline engine is roaring to life.

 

As a result, the Woodland’s brake pedal is very firm and requires a strong push, and there’s little in the way of feedback. With the exception of a small jolt when switching from regenerative to friction braking. As with other Sienna models, this one has a relatively long stopping distance for its class. In spite of a 129-foot 60mph result, our test crew noted the van’s stable and controlled posture under full braking force. As an example, in an MT comparison test conducted in the spring of 2014, the Honda Odyssey (123 feet) was followed by the Chrysler Pacifica (122 feet) and the Kia Carnival (118 feet).

Saplings outnumber Sequoias.

Toyota’s Sequoia, which measures 203.7 inches from bumper to bumper, dwarfs the Sienna Woodland, which measures 203.7 inches. It’s no surprise that the Sienna Woodland’s handling isn’t spry, given that it weighs 4,834 pounds. Even Toyota’s off-road-ready 4Runner and Tundra do better than the van on our figure-eight course, which took 29.9 seconds at an average g-force of 0.54 g to complete. The Sienna performed admirably in our tests, even when the car was pushed to its absolute limit.

 

Steering difficulty and size can make it difficult to get through traffic or avoid an unexpected obstacle. However, the Woodland’s elevated ride height doesn’t make it tippy and top-heavy like some SUVs. The SIenna’s suspension does a good job of damping road noise, but it reacts quickly to larger impacts. When we got behind the wheel, we began to wonder if the prefix “mini” should be attached to this vehicle at all—this van is anything but.

 

A Vast Overgrowth of Specifications

The Sienna’s 35/36 mpg city/highway fuel economy makes it the most fuel-efficient 2022 minivan. That includes AWD, which is not available on the Honda Odyssey, Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, or Kia Carnival. With AWD, the Sienna manages to outpace both the Kia Sorento Hybrid AWD and the Highlander Hybrid AWD, the two most fuel-efficient AWD three-row SUVs, by a city mile and a highway mile. The Sienna’s 630-mile refueling range is the best of any AWD three-row vehicle currently on the market.

 

The Woodland’s EPA ratings, which are the same as those of every other 2022 Sienna Sienna AWD model, could be a concern. Adding 53 pounds of trailer hitches to a vehicle only adds to the mpg-sucking drag caused by crossbars strapped to the roof and a higher ride height. Fuel economy of about 600 miles compensates for some of the Woodland’s other shortcomings even though it won’t be able to match those numbers under real-world driving conditions.

 

This is followed by a brilliantly flexible layout and packaging options in the interior. Its incredibly long sliding second-row seats (non-removable) are revealed by the vehicle’s dual power sliding side doors. Passengers in the third row will find a decent amount of legroom, if not much in the way of visibility, thanks to the car’s small windows. All three rows of seats can be removed and folded into the deep cargo hold, creating an enormous flat floor.

 

There are many advantages to owning a Sienna minivan, not just for those who ride along. There are heating elements built into the seats that warm up almost immediately. Every surface in and around the bridge-like center console is a cubby, slot, shelf, or bin, which makes it easy to store small things.

 

Technology in the Sienna doesn’t work as well as it used to. This car’s 9.0-inch infotainment system has a lower-resolution screen than the other cars in its class, and it has an old, slow-moving user interface. Even though the standard Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 suite of driver assistance and active safety features is better than not having them, they work better when they are used by competitors like Honda. There were many false alerts from its adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning system while we were driving. It was slow to react to traffic in front of us.

To find out what’s really going on

That 0.6-inch rise in ground clearance is the only thing that makes the Woodland different from other Sienna trims. We didn’t think it made enough of a difference to choose the Woodland in the Sienna range. Theoretically, it can help with uneven off-road surfaces, but if you’re going to be on that kind of terrain, you’ll be better off with a different kind of car than with this one.

 

A unique look or just the idea of sitting a little higher might be enough for some people. Siennas are known for their excellent fuel economy and roomy interiors, but if that doesn’t persuade you to ditch your SUV, you’ll get the same benefits in the form of a more refined version of the van that transcends the marketing gimmick.