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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I'm in the market for a 2016-2018 Sienna 6 cylinder minivan with ~60K miles. Other than checking the service history what are the Sienna specific things that I should look for? I know the 17-18 have the 8 speed auto and some of the early 17's need a software update. They also have the 2GR-FKS Direct inject engine, my RAV4 has the same engine as the 16, the 2GR-FE V6. I've got a BlueDriver code reader and know enough to be dangerous and plan to have the a final inspection before purchase at a Toyota independant specialist.

I will look for basic things like frame rot but want to know from long time owners specific Gotcha's to keep an eye out for that only people who follow this board and have the time behind the wheel would know.

I'm leaning on a FWD and avoiding the AWD because of a few of the posts here. I live in New England and will just buy dedicated snow tires for winter. Any comments on AWD reliability?

I've got a 2010 RAV4 and a 2008 Prius with a total of 380K miles. I'm looking for a minivan that I can depend on for 250K+ miles and I take great care of my cars.
 

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Here's a link to Sienna sales brochures which describe what was standard and optional on each trim for each model year: Auto-Brochures.com|Toyota Car PDF Sales Brochure/Catalog/Flyer/Info 4Runner 86 Avalon Camry Celica, CH-R, Corolla Corona Echo FJ Cruiser Highlander Land Cruiser Mark II Matrix Mirai MR2 Prius RAV4 Sequoia Sienna Solara Supra Tacoma Tundra Venza Yaris

The 2018 was a huge deal for the gen 3 Sienna when it got a bunch of standard safety and convenience features (e.g. automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control) and an in-dash head unit that can run Apple CarPlay.
 

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AWD is worth it. Don’t listen to the idiots that tell you otherwise. The only thing I’ve seen go bad are the couplers but were talking 120k+ miles. They take maintenance just like anything else.

If I were you I’d avoid anything newer than ‘16. Those early 8 speed trannies suck.
 

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If you're looking to get 250K+ miles out of it, I'd strongly advise you to stick with the 2016 and older models with the 6 speed transmission and older engine. The 8 speeds are probably fine, but there were some failures early on, and the newer ones are too new to really know how they'll hold up long term. The 6 speed has been used on Siennas going back to 2011, and have not had widespread issues. Unless, you really want the safety features of the 2018+ models.

The older 3.5L (non direct injected) engine also only requires the spark plugs be changed every 120K, whereas the newer one has a 60K replacement schedule due to the direct injection. And, they're not easy to replace... you'd only have to do it once for a ~250K ownership interval, but you'd have to do it 3 times if you get the newer engine. Any gas savings you'd save from the slightly better fuel economy of the newer model would be wiped out by the cost to change plugs if you were paying for labor.

There haven't really been any super widespread issues with the AWD systems, either. They do require maintenance, so you should weigh if you really want it. If you're concerned enough about snow to want snow tires, I'd probably want AWD too. They haven't been particularly problematic. You will, however, lose the 8th seat and spare tire with AWD, so if you want 8 passenger seating, you must go FWD.
 
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Regardless of what the brochures say, do realize that the tow package was not standard across the board in those years.

I’m not sure about 2017-2018, but in 2016 you had to get a FWD model or an AWD in LE only to get the 3500 pound tow rating.

If I were shopping a gen3 Sienna, I would stick with 2015-2016 or 2019-2020 for reliability reasons. Toyota had transmission issues with the Sienna transmission in 2017-2018.

-Mike
 

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Living in snow country why would not consider AWD? We have a late production 2018 with a transmission that works well with quick downshifts, smooth upshifts and none of the early problems for the 2017s. It gets 24 mpg and sometimes higher on road trips.
 

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Living in snow country why would not consider AWD? We have a late production 2018 with a transmission that works well with quick downshifts, smooth upshifts and none of the early problems for the 2017s. It gets 24 mpg and sometimes higher on road trips.
When you get stuck in the snow with the Sienna it doesn’t matter if it’s awd or fwd it doesn’t have the high ground clearance to clear the snow like the Subaru does.
 

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Most of the time, getting stuck in snow has to do with traction, not because the car is too low. Unless you drive on unplowed roads or go off roading, the Sienna should be plenty high enough to clear anything, even in the northeast. Where I live, the roads get plowed pretty quickly, so ground clearance isn't an issue whatsoever, but there's often still a little bit of snow left on the road that can cause traction issues.
 
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