After 18 days and 3,100 miles and I can tell you that I still like my family.
I’d love to tell you that it’s because I’m just a loving and patient mom but I’ll be honest with you; it wasn’t me, it was the 2019 Toyota Sienna XLE that made the difference. When my husband and I started looking to make the trip from Minneapolis to Bordentown, New Jersey to visit his sister, I was apprehensive. Our family frequently drives to visit my parents in Galena, IL, about six hours one way so I know that we can go the distance together but that’s only a day trip. This road trip, which I titled #TheEpicRoadTrip, was long, with quite a few stops.
I have three kids. One 10.5-year-old who isn’t in a booster, an 8-year-old in a highback booster seat and a 5-year-old who is still in a five-point harness. Space in our 2008 Toyota Sienna was limited and that made me nervous. Driving a 2019 Toyota Sienna XLE AWD on the trip made me curious to see how this newer version of a minivan that I was so familiar with would stack up. Could it possibly make our trip easier?
Who is the 2019 Toyota Sienna XLE for?
We’re a family of five and it felt like the 2019 Toyota Sienna XLE AD was designed for my family. Okay, maybe your family too but seriously, this minivan takes comfort up a notch and then some. The interior is wide and spacious (200.6/78.1 inches to be exact) which gave all three of our kids their own space to get comfortable. To give you an idea of the space you get with the Sienna, we travel with a cooler of snacks and everything needed to make a sandwich. My husband is 6’1″ and drives with the seat all the way back which leaves absolutely no room between the driver’s seat and the passenger seat directly behind him in our 2008 Toyota Sienna (201/77 inches). And, we had ample room for our cooler in the 2019 Toyota Sienna. That made my life easier because I’m the one who’s always getting things out of the cooler.
What We Loved About the 2019 Toyota Sienna XLE AWD
I’ve already mentioned the space in the 2019 Toyota Sienna and that’s one of my major areas of admiration. Somehow Toyota created a more spacious interior –Thinner door panels? Thinner seats? Center seats that move?– and that made a big difference between our model and this one.
I asked my kids what they loved most about the minivan and here’s what they said:
- The Blu-ray disc entertainment center with a screen that drops down from the ceiling.
- The wireless headphones to watch movies with.
- The soft leather chairs
- The USB ports which were vital for my son and his devices. Five USB ports (second and third row charging only) and three 12V auxiliary power outlets.
- The dual sun visors for each window in the back, the kids loved being able to control the sun being in their eyes.
Us grown-ups liked the same things our kids did, mainly because it meant they were happy and comfortable, we liked the following:
- Legroom in the front and driver’s seat.
- The console! I loved the look of the console, it was sleek and easy to use.
- Climate control, I swear I’m always hot now. I don’t think I’m close to menopause but who knows? I’m always H-O-T. The 2019 Toyota Sienna comes with three-zone automatic climate control with air filter, individual temperature settings for driver, front passenger and rear-seat passengers.
- Wider seats, I don’t know if they’re wider or if they’re just more comfortable in design now. The 2019 Toyota Sienna XLE AWD boasts premium leather-trimmed and multi-stage heated front seats (which we didn’t need to use) with seatback pockets; 8-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with driver memory function and power lumbar support and a 4-way power-adjustable front passenger seat.
- The Moonroof! I loved being able to let some natural light in while we were driving, it helped change the feel of the car and when you’re driving for hours on end that’s a good thing.
- Ease of adjusting the seats to create more trunk space.
What does this car cost?
The starting value of the 2019 Toyota Sienna XLE AWD is $37,465. Toyota Sienna has five main trim levels to choose from; L, LE, SE, XLE, and Limited. The LE and XLE have an Auto Access power-rotating and lift-up second-row passenger seat. All of the trims come with a V6 engine and front-wheel drive, although you can add all-wheel drive to all of the models, except the L.
Sienna L (2020 model starting at $31,415)
- cloth seats
- a 60/40 split-folding third-row seat
- 17-inch alloy wheels
- tri-zone automatic climate control
- remote keyless entry
- a 4.2-inch information display
- cruise control
- the Entune infotainment system with a 7-inch touch screen
- five USB ports
- a six-speaker stereo
- Siri Eyes Free
- Apple CarPlay
- Amazon Alexa
- Wi-Fi hot spot
- navigation system
- Toyota Safety Sense P
Sienna LE (2020 model starting at $34,235)
- eight-passenger seating
- eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat
- auto-dimming rearview mirror
- fixed front-center storage console with cup holders
- manual second- and third-row sunshades
- dual power-sliding rear doors
- satellite and HD Radio
- the preferred LE package comes with blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, push-button start, and proximity keyless entry
Sienna SE (the sporty Sienna) (2020 model starting at $37,565)
- sport-tuned suspension (for slightly improved handling)
- larger alloy wheels
- fog lights
- leather seats (with synthetic leather for the third row)
- heated front seats
- leather-trimmed steering wheel
- power liftgate
- Add-ons: all-wheel drive and power tilt-and-slide moonroof with a sunshade
- SE Premium package includes everything listed above plus a Blu-ray rear-seat entertainment system, 10-speaker JBL premium sound system, Driver Easy Speak (which amplifies the driver’s voice through the rear speakers).
Sienna XLE (starting at $37,565)
- four-way power-adjustable front passenger seat
- push-button start
- proximity keyless entry
- blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert
- wood grain-style trim
- AWD add-on
- Navigation package (extra cost) adds rear parking sensors, Driver Easy Speak, and dynamic navigation, which provides real-time updates.
Sienna Limited (top-of-the-line model) (2020 model starting at $44,310)
- seats seven people
- dual-pane moonroof
- 18-inch alloy wheels
- front and rear parking sensors
- premium leather seats
- second-row lounge seats
- power-folding third row
- heated steering wheel
- 10-speaker JBL sound system
- Limited Premium package: surround-view camera, rain-sensing wipers, and the rear-seat entertainment system
- AWD add-on
What you need to know about the 2019 Toyota Sienna XLE AWD
Our family drives an older model Sienna that doesn’t come with some of the updated features like outside mirrors with blind-spot warning indicators, a backup camera, or the Toyota Safety Sense active driver assistance features.
These new features took some getting used to, but they take a lot of the stress out of driving, especially in unfamiliar cities and in highway traffic. I didn’t realize that I needed to adjust the follow-distance while using cruise control. The Sienna kept reducing my speed when cars ahead of me slowed. At first it was frustrating until I realized I could adjust the distance I wanted to follow traffic, override the system by applying the accelerator or simply, not use cruise control.
Other Toyota Safety Sense features that were helpful were lane departure alert, which beeps and gives you a flashing icon on the dashboard when you start to leave the lane without signaling; steering assist, which nudges you back into your lane if you drift out (and the lane keep assist is beeping!); automatic high beam headlights which automatically reduce brightness down to standard headlight brightness when another vehicle or pedestrians are in view; and pre-collision emergency braking, which will stop the car if it senses a crash is imminent (luckily this one never came into use!).
The on-board GPS didn’t work well for us, unfortunately. It was delayed at times and when you’re driving through Chicago during rush hour it’s not ideal. That’s when having all those other passengers with phones and Google Map in hand comes in handy.
How Did the 2019 Toyota Sienna XLE Save My Sanity?
Since we got home, so many people asked me how our trip was and I have told pretty much everyone that it went well. And that I still like my family! I am completely being serious; the extra space the Sienna gave my family made the difference between being a zen mama and a lunatic mama. Tight quarters and long days in a car can be a recipe for confrontation, but with the amenities that this minivan gave my family, especially the entertainment center, we completed all 3,100 miles still speaking to each other and laughing. And isn’t that the point of family time?