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Is Toyota About To Retire One Of Its Oldest Models?

Sales / 13 Comments

Here's a hint: it was last redesigned in 2010.

There was a time when minivans were the family vehicles of choice in suburbia. Today, they've been replaced by crossovers. While some automakers are still building them, one minivan in particular took a significant sales hit last year, the Toyota Sienna. Its 2018 sales decreased by 21 percent compared to the year prior, and it hasn't been lower since 2009, the year before the current generation went on sale. Toyota North America CEO told Automotive News that despite the Sienna's slow sales and age, the automaker has no plans to offer attractive discounts.

"When it gets late in its life cycle, you've got to decide – typically, we will prop up a vehicle late in its life cycle with incentives," Lentz said. "But you've got to look at the segment that you're in. And in some cases, that doesn't make good businesses sense to do, and I think that's what's happening with Sienna."

The Sienna fell from third to fourth place in the US minivan segment, just behind the Honda Odyssey. The Dodge Grand Caravan, amazingly, has proven quite resilient. As we previously reported, it was Dodge's best-selling vehicle last year and yet the current generation has been around since 2008, making it even older than the Sienna.

So why did the Grand Caravan outsell the slightly newer Sienna? Because Dodge offered incentives and Toyota doesn't see any need to do so, and for good reason: the Sienna is built at the same Indiana factory that produces the hot-selling Highlander crossover.

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Lentz realizes the Highlander, whose sales increased by 13 percent in 2018, can help make up the overall sales difference for the time being. Given the slowing minivan market in general, is Toyota about to toss in the towel on this segment completely? Nope. An all-new Sienna is expected in 2021 and it will ride on Toyota's global TNGA platform that also underpins the RAV4. That's when Toyota hopes Sienna sales will recover, but in the meantime, its popular crossovers will easily make up the difference.