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Sienna offers all-wheel-drive option, more powerful V-6

I owned a couple of different minivan models when my kids were younger, and now I am yearning for one again, as I would like to accommodate my four grandkids and cruise more comfortably during long road trips.

The 2017 Toyota Sienna does not have the fold-in-the-floor second-row seats like the new Chrysler Pacifica, but Sienna continues to be the only minivan offered with an available all-wheel-drive system that can provide more sure-footed, foul-weather traction.

For 2017, all Toyota Sienna models boast a stronger V-6 engine, new eight-speed automatic transmission and slightly improved fuel efficiency.

Rated at 296 horsepower and 263 pound-feet of torque, Sienna’s new 3.5-liter V-6 engine delivers 30 more horsepower and 18 more pound-feet of torque than the previous model.

The new V-6 provides Sienna with quicker acceleration and more robust passing performance, and its new eight-speed automatic transmission further enhances driving performance and helps Sienna achieve 19/27 mpg city/highway for front-wheel-drive (FWD) models and 18/24 mpg city/highway for all-wheel-drive (AWD) models.

With a starting price of around $30,000, the 2017 Toyota Sienna continues to be offered in five trim levels: L, LE, SE, XLE and Limited. Pricing tops out around $50,000 for a fully loaded Limited model.

The base Sienna L includes seven-passenger seating, three-zone automatic climate control with cabin air filter, windshield wiper deicer, 17-inch alloy wheels, full power accessories, remote keyless entry, cruise control, tilt/telescoping steering wheel with audio, Bluetooth hands-free phone and voice-command controls, back-up camera and four-speaker CD audio system.

Stepping up to the higher trim levels provides additional amenities, while SE, XLE and Limited models are also available in Premium sub-trim levels.

Eight-passenger models feature a 40/20/40 second-row seat with removable center seat that can be stowed. Seven-passenger models offer available second-row captain’s chairs. These slide almost two feet fore/aft to either accommodate those with long legs or move the seats closer to the driver and front passenger, making it easier to reach a child.

All models feature 60/40 split-and-stow third-row seats that can be folded flat into the floor. With the third-row seats upright, there is still 39.1 cubic feet of cargo space and a nice deep well to keep items from sliding about the cabin.

With the third-row seats folded, cargo volume behind the second-row seats opens up to 87.1 cubic feet. When you need to haul longer items, removal of the second-row seats is awkward due to their size and weight. Then you need to store them somewhere.

With the second-row seats removed and the third-row seats folded flat into the floor, cargo volume opens up to 150 cubic feet — plenty of room for 4-by-8 sheets of building materials.

Sienna offers a long list of standard and available safety and infotainment technologies. If you need a minivan with fold-in-the-floor second- and third-row seats, you will need to shop elsewhere. But if you require a minivan with the benefits of all-wheel drive, Sienna is your only choice.