I am considering a Sienna, currently drive an Avalon, drive at least 20,000/yr, upper midwest, so winter driving needs. Would appreciate thoughts/experience on FWD vs AWD on a Sienna.
I would avoid the AWD Sienna. It does not have a spare tire, so it comes with pricey to replace run flat tires that wear out quickly. Also winter tires in run flat type are expensive if you can find them. Get the FWD Sienna and put winter tires on it.
A flat is lower on my list of worries, I have had 3 in the last 30 years, 2 were slow leaks repaired before disaster. My current car (4 years) has on demand 4wd, and it is great, but made it through well enough with 2wd vehicles in WI MN and ND since 1970, no snow tires.
I live in Central Indiana and own a 2011 Sienna with FWD. I got through last winter with the original equipment tires that came with the vehicle with no problems. I have 22,000 miles on my Sienna and have had no problems.
20K miles/yr isn’t really all that much. Avoiding run-flats will be cheaper in the long run, but pretty much any vehicle you like will do just fine. If you like it, you’ll take better care of it (or so the theory goes). I was in ND for a year, and neither the wife nor I needed any special tires. My truck is 4X4, and I used it a lot, but hers is FWD, and she never had a problem. When the roads are really bad, it’s best to just stay home, anyway. Most roads tend to get cleaned up pretty regularly, and serious storms are announced well ahead of time. I have noticed that there are a lot of people who are overly concerned about winter weather. For me, caution and a bit of “common sense” seems to work wonders.
I can’t say very much about the Sienna itself, since I’ve never driven one, but the people I know who have one seem to like it.
My wife had to go 45 miles last winter in a snowstorm, and wanted to borrow the Traiblazer so she could go faster, I said take your car, it is not a matter of how fast you take off from a stoplight, but how well you steer and stop. Going faster at takeoff is not what keeps you out of the ditch or prevents accidents in adverse conditions.
If you’ve done OK with the Avalon then the fwd Sienna would be my choice. I’ve heard many complaints about the runflat tires, I’d avoid them.
The low ground clearance of a minivan makes the advantages of awd more questionable. Awd will not help much if you are hung up. If you aren’t, the traction control in 2wd is often enough.
FWD + winter tires.
Avoid the run-flat tires. All wheel drive is more expensive, heavier, lower mpg, more expensive to fix. Front wheel drive is fine.
If you want awd in a larger minivan type car, get a Highlander or Pilot.