Not to be confused with the Sienna, the Toyota Sienta is a Yaris-based van that the Japanese automaker has offered in Asia for almost two decades. The newest generation has just premiered, and like those before, it holds true to the formula — this is a Euro-style MPV underpinned by a Yaris platform. Normally such a vehicle might not garner much attention, but the Sienta is full of so many charming and clever touches that we couldn’t ignore. So let’s talk about them!
First off, the Sienta’s exterior cleans up, in my opinion. It’s the perfect blend of cute, practical and modern, culling cues from its TNGA-B platform brethren, especially the handsome Aygo X. Those themes are wrapped around a greenhouse that evokes competitors like the Citroën C3 Picasso, except not irredeemably ugly.
But it’s inside where the Sienta’s ingenuity truly shines. The dash and seat upholstery echoes the modern tendency toward cozy, canvas-like fabrics in cheap cars, and that’s not a bad thing. Toyota says they’re treated to be resistant to stains.
I love a good pop of color as well, and the Sienta has many. They don’t always come across — Toyota has gone for a weirdly dreamlike, washed-out edit for these press shots — but you can make such assumptions as to how all this would look in the real world.
The automaker calls this aesthetic “Shikakumaru” — “circle and square design.” In Toyota’s words, it “evokes a sense of attachment has been pursued, with iconic, simple, and unified door pockets, cup holders, and registers.” I’d agree with that. The Sienta also employs frequent use of “pictograms” — icons, really — “to suggest items that fit into the storage spaces in a fun way.” Like so:
The seat backs not only have integrated USB-C ports for juicing up devices, but pockets you can stuff your phone into when you’re not using it. I love that; things always need places to go, especially when they’re charging, and the deep pocket at the base of a seatback can be annoying to rifle through.
The armrest hinges have little divots to hang bags off of as well:
These are the kinds of vehicles that rarely make the trip to our side of the world, and the ones I regret missing out on the most. Little people movers like these are among the least pretentious, most down-to-earth forms of personal transportation. They’re cheap, too — the Sienta starts at 1,950,000 yen, or $14,305. A range-topping hybrid model is just $22,800. I don’t even have kids, and I’m pretty sure owning one of these could only improve my life.