The Toyota Sienta Is A Pocket-Sized Seven-Seat Minivan

Reveal / 11 Comments

This thing makes a Sienna look like a monster truck.

  • Toyota Sienta revealed as a tiny seven-seat van
  • Hybrid and non-hybrid three-cylinder engine options
  • Prices start at around $14,000, but it won't be sold in the US

The Chevrolet Suburban is the American idea of a seven-seat passenger vehicle. Across the Pacific Ocean in Japan, they have a very different vision of how to transport seven people. Say hello to the Toyota Sienta, not to be confused with the US spec Toyota Sienna. It's a new compact vehicle that lends new meaning to the "mini" portion of the term minivan.

The Sienta launched in 2003, but this new model caught our attention because it proves you don't need a massive V8 engine to carry seven people.

Despite having three rows of seating, the Sienta only measures 169.3 inches long. To put that in perspective, the Escalade is 211.9 inches long, and the Sienna is 204.1 inches. Toyota was clever here, adding 20 millimeters (0.78 inches) to the cabin height to provide more interior space.

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Rear seat legroom was improved for this third-generation model, along with a ceiling air circulator to reticulate the A/C around the cabin and UV/IR blocking functions to keep the space more comfortable. For additional sun protection, sunshades are available on the rear sliding doors.

The cabin employs what Toyota calls "Shikakumaru" design with circles and squares. In simple terms, the Sienta's interior has clever storage details and pictograms to show how those areas can be used. There is an armrest hook on the driver's seat for grocery bags, two seat-back smartphone pockets with USB-C ports for phones, large cupholders in the doors and dashboard, and a selection of dealer add-on storage accessories.

Hands-free dual power sliding doors and a low floor make it easy to get in and out of the vehicle. Toyota offers five-seat and seven-seat variants and several Welcab models that provide easy wheelchair access.

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Much like the Sienta itself, the engine options under the hood are diminutive and are shared with the JDM Yaris.

The base powertrain is a 1.5-liter Dynamic Force three-cylinder engine mated to a Direct Shift continuously variable transmission, sending the power to the front wheels only.

Toyota will also sell a hybrid variant based around the same 1.5-liter engine, with the option of an E-Four all-wheel-drive system. Together, the engine and electric motor produce 72 horsepower. That might seem minuscule compared to the Sienna's 245 hp output, but it's a much larger and heavier vehicle.

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Still, we can't help but wonder whether 72 horses is enough once you load it up with seven people. Seven average-sized Americans will add roughly 1,500 pounds. Add that to the 2,900 lbs curb weight, and you have a tiny three-pot trying to move 4,400 lbs. For reference, the curb weight of an entry-level Sienna is 4,610 lbs.

There's no chance that a vehicle like the Sienta will come to the United States. It's too small for our market, where even our "compact" crossovers will dwarf the pocket-sized minivan.

That being said, we wish more small vehicles from Japan were available here. The base model starts at around $14,000 (converted from the Japanese Yen), while the fully-loaded hybrid with eAWD tops out at just under $23,000. Even a base

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