This article was updated on November 3, 2021.
My family and I had grown to the point where our Toyota Highlander 2008 Sport is no longer able to comfortably transport us around, and that is quite the shame because the COVID-19 pandemic had finally pushed us to try Overlanding/Boondocking last year. Car interior space had become ever more important, and so our family had been considering the switch to a minivan for the past, two years. I did not like the idea of losing my very reliable, 13-year-old Highlander SUV, but space had been getting tighter.
Toyota announced the 2022 Sienna Woodland Edition on April 27, 2021, aimed at those desiring a rugged vehicle but still needing a minivan. Specifically, those who struggled between a Sienna and a SUV (Highlander, 4Runner, or Sequoia). Yup, that would be our family! Would that be the minivan we would want?
What is Boondocking?
If you are curious about what boondocking is and why a spacious car has become important to our family… Boondocking is also sometimes referred to as Overlanding: the act of staying (almost anywhere you want) on public land that is off-the-grid with generally no camping amenities, such as flush toilets, showers, trash service, faucet water, and the like. There usually is no reservation or fee involved to stay. You take everything you need with you in your car and spend the night there. I tried it once and had become a fan of this type of activity since, especially during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic where social distancing had been very important! My entire family went boondocking earlier this month and saw the appeal despite having been surrounded by unforgiving, yet beautiful ruggedness ready to be explored.
Shopping For Minivans
For camping — especially boondocking — all-wheel drive (AWD) was VERY important to me. I do not skimp when it comes to safety because AWD (or 4WD) can help you get out of gnarly situations like being stuck in deep sand or slipping on an icy road. The main difference between all-wheel drive (AWD) and four-wheel drive (4WD) is that the former is always engaged on the car, whereas the 4WD can be turned on and off as needed.
The Sienna was the ONLY one of all minivans offering AWD until the Chrysler Pacifica finally added that option to their 2020 line-up. As a result, our choice was ultimately narrowed down to just the two, and we decided to go for the Toyota because of its reputation as being reliable and holding great resale value. Furthermore, the Honda Odyssey has been riddled with nightmare stories on both the internet and first-hand accounts from friends, family, and coworkers.
Would an AWD minivan be enough to convince me NOT to get a sports utility vehicle (SUV)?
Would an AWD minivan be enough to convince me NOT to get a sports utility vehicle (SUV)? Should I consider getting another Highlander, 4Runner, or Sequoia SUV? I was still on the fence until the 2022 Sienna Woodland Edition was announced on April 27, 2021.
Toyota Sienna 2021
The manufacturer announced the newly-redesigned, 4th generation Sienna in late 2020, ten years since its last redesign in 2011. That had been a long time coming despite being the third best-selling minivan in the industry, according to CarProUSA. We held out for the rumored redesign as long as we could as we did not want to be stuck with the 10-year-old design, and thankfully, our prayers were answered with the 2021 model. However, COVID-19 pandemic travel restrictions made us reconsider buying the car now and not be able to fully utilize it — we decided to wait another year for the 2022 model.
COVID-19 pandemic travel restrictions convinced us to wait another year before buying a new car.
We are glad we did because Toyota announced the 2022 Sienna Woodland Edition on April 27, 2021, aimed at those desiring a rugged vehicle but still needing a minivan. Specifically, those who struggled between a Sienna and a SUV (Highlander, 4Runner, or Sequoia). Yup, that would be our family!
Toyota Sienna 2022: Woodland Edition
What makes the upcoming Sienna Woodland appealing? It seems to have everything needed for an outdoor adventure, including roof rails with crossbars, 1500W inverter (will I still need to carry my Goal Zero Yeti 1500x power station around?), tow hitch, and lifted ground clearance. Mind you, this is still a minivan that should not be used for hardcore off roading, but it certainly is much more appealing now than the 2021 models!
- Fuel efficiency: 35 MPG (EPA-estimated, combined)
- Hybrid drive system with 243 horsepower
- Electronic AWD
- 6.96″ ground clearance (0.59″ higher raise than the non-Woodland editions’ 6.37″)
- A higher profile allows you to take on more dirt roads and go over rocky terrains, but you should not go hardcore off roading with it
- 1,500W power outlet
- Power many household items, though I would most likely still bring one of my portable power stations for more flexibility
- Tow hitch with 3,500lb towing capability
- To attach a bike carrier or trailer
- Note: hitch blocks the trunk door’s kick sensor
- Roof rails with crossbars
- Exterior color options
- Cement (exclusive to the Woodland Edition)
- Midnight Black Metallic
- Whether more choices will be available, we can only hope
- Black sport trimmed seats with unique stitch color
- 18″ wheels
- Optional: Spare tire
- Dark chrome-colored accents with Black badging
- GPS Navigation
- I am not a fan of built-in car navigation systems as I rather bring a portable Garmin GPS along for a variety of reasons
- JBL 12-speaker 1,200W premium audio system
- Great sound is a must for long rides!
- 7-seat capacity
- “Super-long-slide” 2nd row Captain’s Chairs
- Sunshades for 2nd row
- “Split & Stow” 3rd row seat
- “Super-long-slide” 2nd row Captain’s Chairs
- Kick-activated sliding doors
- Note: Included tow hitch blocks the trunk door’s kick sensor
- Heated front seats
- In California, I don’t care for these. Would have been nice if air-conditioned seats were available instead
- 7 USB ports across all 3 rows
- Qi wireless smartphone charging
- Driver Easy Speak for easier communication with rear passengers
- Optional: Entertainment Package (11.6″ 1080p HDMI display)
Like the Sienna 2021, it also comes with Toyota Safety Sense (TSS 2.0):
- Pre-Collision system with Pedestrian Detection
- Lane Departure Alert w/Lane Trace Assist
- Full Speed Adaptive Cruise Control
- Automatic High Beams
- Cyclist Detection
- Road Sign Recognition
According to CarsDirect on September 14, 2021, the Woodland Edition “will cost nearly $50,000 with options when it arrives this fall.” The author continued that “based on data derived from the brand’s latest order guide, [it] will start at $46,565 after a $1,215 destination fee [and] will make the new minivan one of the most expensive Siennas you can buy.” It will not, however, be the priciest one — the “Platinum trim at an MSRP of $51,975 before adding any optional gear” will be. Pricing was confirmed by YuenX on September 26, 2021, at Toyota.com.
Toyota will donate $250 to the National Environmental Education Foundation with every sale and aims to raise a minimum of $250,000.
With the spacious interior of the Sienna and more ruggedized features aimed squarely at the outdoor person, our family very much is looking forward to the release of this special edition in the coming months. We were going to look for most of the included features in our next minivan anyway, and if the Woodland comes out at a lower, packaged price point, the decision will be a no-brainer. The only downside is that only two exterior color choices appear to be offered. The 2022 Sienna is expected to be available in the Fall of 2021 [Update: November 2021].
Exterior Color: Cement
Overview by Krowicki
Overview by Smart Motors Toyota
Exterior Color: Midnight Black Metallic
Overview by Steve Taylor AutoTube
Video by Talking CarBiz