Trucks & SUVs

Is the Toyota Highlander or Sienna a Better Family Vehicle?

There has been an ongoing feud in the automotive industry for years. You could even call it a “family feud.” It comes down to a single question. Should I buy a Minivan or SUV? One of the best ways to answer this is to put two vehicles from the same automaker to a head-to-head comparison. This will help uncover which one will best fit your needs. The 2020 Toyota Sienna and the 2020 Toyota Highlander are both fan favorites with great reviews overall. So, which one is better?

Is the Toyota Highlander or Sienna a better family vehicle for you?

2020 Toyota Highlander Platinum
2020 Toyota Highlander Platinum | Toyota

First, let’s look at similarities

Both have an all-wheel drive, a 3.5-liter engine with 8-speed automatic transmission. Both have standard heated seats, folding rear seats, sunroof, keyless ignition, and adaptive cruise control. The warranties are also the same; three-year/36000 mile warranty with a five-years/60000 mile drivetrain and two-year unlimited roadside assistance. So as you can see, they are pretty evenly matched. 

In the last few years, the Crossover SUVs have become popular, but it is important to note that the beloved minivan will do the same jobs easily. A minivan can do a lot better many times, due to its roomy body shape, unstylish as some may think it is. A clear example of this is the Toyota Sienna 2020.

Now onto the differences 

The Sienna has quite a bit more room in the second and third-row even for an adult. The 2020 Sienna also has a larger cargo space at 39.1 cubic feet compared to the 16 cubic feet of the Highlander. And with the additional seat capacity, the Sienna comes in at eight seats, to the Highlanders 7 seats.

The Highlander has more legroom overall. To measure from driver’s seat at 42 inches and rear at 41 inches compared to the Sienna at 40.5 inches in the driver’s seat and the rear at 37.6 inches. But in every other area, the Sienna has more room. It’s also much easier to get to those seats with dual automatic sliding doors of a minivan. 

When it comes to gas mileage, the 2020 Toyota Sienna has up to 19 city / 26 highway. The 2020 Toyota Highlander has up to 21 city / 29 highway with the hybrid option up to 36 city / 35 highway. Toyota revealed a 2021 Toyota Sienna hybrid with a promised 33 mpg. We will have to see if it delivers. For now, the Highlander wins on fuel economy. 

The Highlander has the ability to open the back window to drop things in without lifting the whole tailgate quickly. This is a plus, but it may not be enough of an advantage to beat out the Sienna. 

Edmond’s “5-Year Ownership Cost” review gives it to the 2020 Toyota Sienna. With an almost $3,000 savings compared to the 2020 Toyota Highlander. Add that to the additional cargo space, extra seat, better use of the room, and a feature only available on minivans: the dual sliding doors. And it looks like the 2020 Toyota Sienna wins. With a lower depreciation value ($16,881 vs. $18,538) and lower insurance ($6,833 vs. $7,260) plus the cost of repairs and maintenance being more economical in the Sienna vs. the Highlander it would seem like the obvious choice is the 2020 Toyota Sienna. 

Now, if you are one who refuses to drive in a minivan, don’t be disappointed because the 2020 Toyota Highlander still comes with an 8/10 ranking of all SUVs and will always be a great buy regardless of your choice.