2023 Toyota Sienna Platinum AWD Long-Term Update: An engine like

One of the core selling points of the 2023 Toyota Sienna is its hybrid powertrain. It boasts some amazing fuel economy numbers, with our all-wheel-drive tester being rated at 35 mpg combined (35 city / 36 highway). The only other all-wheel-drive option on the market is the Pacifica, and the best you can expect there is 25 mpg on the highway. On our first tank of fuel, we’ve come up a bit short at 29.1 mpg, but that’s still darn good for a van. Plus, I was seeing between 32 and 34 mpg on highway stretches.

It’s hard to be mad at the Sienna’s powertrain, then. But while I’m pleased that our Sienna is getting good grades in economy, I can’t ignore the annoyance of trying to get it up and going every day. As has been the case with so many Toyota four-cylinders, it’s loud and slow. It’s literally me when I was in high school.

Hitting the throttle is like my mom telling me I’m about to be late. The response: “UUUUUUGGGGHHHHHH!” And it’s exactly that long and drawn out thanks to the eCVT. The actual forward motion is about as quick as me dragging my feet to the bathroom to get dressed to go, too. 

And based on the economy meter that rates your starts, this slowness probably isn’t helping fuel economy. Those long, deep throttle prods aren’t efficient, but necessary on speedy, busy Detroit roads.

It really has me wishing that the Sienna had more gutsy electric motors and battery capacity to shoulder more of the load, or a couple extra cylinders to smooth out the engine. Or both like the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid. Sure it didn’t have all-wheel-drive, but that extra refinement and electric capacity was great.

Still, when the report card comes back and you see the Sienna has been pretty frugal on fuel, you do end up smiling.

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