Rugged performance is the theme of the roaring ’20s, so I suppose it was only a matter of time until we got a minivan that at least pretended to be rugged. Toyota has taken the new Sienna, which already comes standard with all-wheel drive and a hybrid powertrain, and slightly increased the ground clearance, added a tow hitch, roof rails and tossed in its optional 1500-watt AC inverter in the cargo area to create what you see here: the Sienna Woodland Special Edition.
You could say the AWD system already made the Sienna a worthy recipient for this treatment, and the things Toyota gave its minivan beyond that are mostly niceties. Like other Siennas, the Woodland is powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder, with an electric motor driving the rear wheels on demand for a total of 243 horsepower. The Sienna will send up to 80 percent of overall torque to the back “seamlessly and transparently,” depending on conditions.
But you can get that in any Sienna. What you can’t get in other Siennas — from the factory at least — is the Woodland edition’s hitch. The Sienna’s 3,500-pound towing capacity makes it ideal for hauling a four-wheeler or personal water craft, Toyota reminds us. The press release doesn’t tell us by how much Toyota raised the Sienna’s ride height, but that might give you some added peace of mind when hitting the odd dirt road with the family.
Otherwise, the majority of the Woodland’s tweaks are subtle and cosmetic, and play into that rugged vibe. Exterior badging is all black, the leather-trimmed seats now tout a “unique stitch color” that adds gold accents to the gray-and-black upholstery, and you get 18-inch wheels. Inside, there’s a JBL 12-speaker audio system with 1200 watts of power, along with navigation. For each Woodland purchased, Toyota says it will donate $250 to the National Environmental Education Foundation, with a minimum donation of $250,000 already pledged.
The Sienna Woodland seems like a clever marketing move to capitalize on the craze for overlanding these days. Still, I can’t help but think Toyota should have gone just a little further. Six years ago, the company brought a Sienna sitting on a Tacoma chassis to SEMA, which obviously left an impression on me because that’s still the first thing that comes to my mind when I visualize an “off-road minivan.”
The Woodland, on the other hand, looks like a regular old Sienna with more black trim and a ground clearance hike so slight that you need before-and-after photos to notice. I know the Tacoma thing was a bit aspirational, but maybe Toyota could’ve played up the adventure angle with more aggressive cladding and chunkier rims and tires, like Subaru’s done with its new Wilderness line? Just an idea.
Anyway, you can look for the Sienna Woodland at dealers this fall.