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The sporty version of Toyota minivan looks great and is available with all-wheel-drive.

COURTESY PHOTO: TOYOTA - The 2022 Toyota Sienna XSE is a striking minivan the features an aggressive grill, special wheels and a sport tuned suspension.The 2022 Toyota Sienna is a good example of why minivans are enjoying a resurgence. For starters, it is not "mini" but large enough to carry up to eight people in comfort. Despite its size, the Sienna is only available as hybrid, which means it gets surprisingly good mileage. It is also available with all-wheel-drive, a good option in the wet Pacific Northwest. And it is offered in a wide range of trim levels, from a well-equipped base LE to a near luxury Platinum and a new, slightly raised AWD-equipped Woodland Edition that is a little more off-road capable.

Not too long ago, it seemed like minivans were going to become a thing of the past. After surging in popularity after Chrysler invented the market with its affordable, economical and practical K-car based models in the 1980s, manufacturers began dropping them after sales fell when consumers embraced crossover SUVs. Only a few models were still for sale just a new years ago.

COURTESY PHOTO: TOYOTA - All versions of the 2022 Toyota Sienna are only available as hybrids that are rated at 36 miles per gallon.

But suddenly there are six affordable minivans for sale and most of them are either all-new or significantly updated over the past year. They include the Chrysler Pacifica and fleet-only Voyager, the Honda Odyssey, the Kia Carnival and Sedona, and the subject of this test, the Toyota Sienna.

Why the revival? I'd like to think buyers — especially young families — are coming to their senses. Minvans are much more practical than SUVs for parents hauling young kids around. The sliding side doors make it easier to reach in and wrestle with mandatory safety seats, especially in crowded parking lots. And they all provide the higher seating and better visibility that helped make SUVs so popular.

COURTESY PHOTO: TOYOTA - The interior of the 2022 Toyota Sienna is bold and modern, and can be ordered with practically all advanced automotive technologies.

I also get it that some buyers don't think minivans look cool or drive well, especially men. To that I say, check out the XSE version of the Sienna that I spent a week with. The current version sports a large grill and bulging rear fender that give it a muscular look. The XSE package includes even more aggressive front and rear bumpers, 20-inch wheels, a sport tuned suspension and front sport bucket seats.

Decked out in Ruby Flame Pearl paint with contrasting black alloy wheels, it looked and drove great for something that is basically a large box on wheels. It is the manliest minivan since the GT version of the last generation Dodge Caravan a few years ago. With its bright red paint, it was definitely not the "tan minivan" ridiculed in the 2013 Mitsubishi Montero TV ad.

COURTESY PHOTO: TOYOTA - The captains chairs for the second row of seats slide forward and make it easy to reach the third row.

It also came with a wealth of tech and safety features, including Toyota's Safety Sense 2.0, which is standard on all versions, and the optional parking sensors and 360-degree exterior camera system, which aid parking because side and rear visibility is admittedly limited.

Toyota's decision to offer the Sienna (and Venza SUV) hybrid-only vehicles reinforces the company's commitment to the fuel-saving gas/electric technology it pioneered and popularized with its original Prius in 1997. While the American and European governments are pushing manufactures to sell more all-electric vehicles, Toyota understands that most drivers don't have their own home chargers and that public ones can be hard to find or might already be in use when they get there. So hybrids are still the most realistic alternative for environmentally-minded buyers, like many of those who live in the Pacific Northwest.

COURTESY PHOTO: TOYOTA - The third row of seats in the 2022 Toyota Sienna is surprisingly large.

Toyota current sells eight hybrid vehicles, five or which either come standards or can be ordered with AWD. They include four cars, three crossover and, now, the only hybrid minivan with standard AWD. Seriously, if you can't find a Toyota hybrid to meet your needs, you need to rethink your priorities. But if you are in the market for a styling, practical and economic family hauler, the 2022 Toyota Sienna should be on the top of your shopping list.

2022 Toyota Sienna XSE Hybrid

Base price: $34,710 (LE)

Price as tested: $46,455

Type: Minivan

Engine: 2.5-liter 4, two electric motors (245 hp, 199 lb-ft)

Transmission: Electronic Continuously Variable Transmission

EPA estimated mileage: 36/36

Overall length: 204 inches

Curb weight: 4,610 to 4,725 pounds

Final assembly: Princeton, Indiana


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