At the time of inception, many current examples of what we affectionately refer to as “modern classics” were likely considered “ahead of its time.” They broke the mould, didn’t fit in or weren’t like the others.
Again, these terms are often reserved for sports cars or luxury offerings, such as the all-new Toyota Crown, and not your run-of-the-mill mini MPV like a Toyota Sienta which we're about to do so now.
You see, back in August 2016 when the second-generation Sienta was launched here, many were unsure what to make of its wacky exterior and funky interior, which belied its Japanese domestic market origins; or as the cool kids say JDM.
However, there was no denying its utility and configurability as a small- 7-seater family mover with plenty of conveniences that we still consider a luxury in modern vehicles 6 years after its launch.
Reasons to get a Sienta
Avant-garde back in the day, the list of features in the Sienta just make sense nowadays. Features like the twin powered sliding doors and the fold-flat third row that dives in under the one-touch tumble second row for a flat floor make for a very practical yet stylish 7-seater and for a young family, you can’t put a price on that.
Even today, it’s proving to be not an easy task for makers of mini MPVs to get the flat floor thing right. The Sienta got it right about 6 years ago.
To get it all sorted, you had to first activate the one-touch tumble second row seats forward against the back of the front seats. Then, you could fold the third-row seats and slide them onto the floor of the second row. This made for a level surface to store plenty of things.
Of course, the seats themselves are individually configurable for multiple applications to address the myriad of needs a young family may require.
While the Sienta may have appeared to live in its own little world back in the day, the market is now packed with 7-seater mini MPVs; another indication of how the Sienta was ahead of its time.
With the likes of the all-new Perodua Alza entering the mix soon, you might be wondering why a used Sienta would make for a formidable comparison against a much newer competitor?
Well, it depends on your approach to the situation. Yes, they say newer is always better but not all buyers can put up with the expected 6 months waiting period. Most mini MPV buyers need one rather than want one and if the need is dire enough, that half a year can be a wait too long.
Alternatives are aplenty in the market and a used Sienta should be near the top of that list if you can’t afford to wait for one.
Also Read: Was it the quirky looks? These are reasons why the Toyota Sienta wasn't popular in Malaysia
Plus, it’s a Toyota, so you know it’s probably never going to break down. Granted, the new Alza is one as well so that’s perhaps a moot point.
Variants of the Sienta
There was only ever one generation of the Sienta that was sold here, the second-gen codenamed XP170. It was built in Indonesia and could be had here initially in two variants; a base 1.5G that sold for RM 92,900 and a flagship 1.5V that went for RM 99,900.
Dimensionally, it measured up pretty similar to the outgoing Alza, for an idea of its size.
Motivation came from the venerable 2NR-FE Dual VVT-i mill found in the current Toyota Vios. The 1.5-litre four-banger made a decent 107 PS and 140 Nm of torque that was sent to the front wheels via a CVT with seven virtual ratios.
Interestingly, the Asean-spec Sienta had the Tiptronic option but the JDM versions didn’t. This also explains why the former had the gear shifter relocated between the front seats while the latter used a column-mounted shifter.
Equipment wise, that RM 7k premium netted you quite a bit of kit. The 1.5V came with bi-LED headlights, 16-inch machine-finish alloy wheels and light guides for the taillights. On the other hand, the base 1.5G made do with halogen headlights, 15-inch rims and plain LED taillights. Both however got LED DRLs.
Inside, there was a roof-mounted rear air-conditioning blower with manual controls.
Specific to the flagship trim was an acoustic windscreen, keyless entry, push-button start, Optitron instrument cluster, coloured multi-info display, automatic air-conditioning, a 6.8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with voice control and a reverse camera.
The easiest way to tell the two variants apart is via the brown fabric upholstery that’s only on the 1.5V, as is the leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel and the twin powered sliding doors.
On the 1.5G, you only get a single electric sliding door on the passenger (left) side and black upholstery.
Safety comprises three airbags (dual front + driver’s knee), ABS with EBD and BA, stability control, hill-start assist and Isofix child seat anchor points on the outer second-row seats.
For the facelift in 2018, the base 1.5G was dropped and the infotainment screen in the now sole 1.5V was upgraded to a 6.9-inch DVD-AVX touchscreen system with Bluetooth, HDMI, SD card input and reverse camera.
The facelift also saw the integration of a USB charging port in the second row.
Market prices of the Sienta
The Sienta was sold from 2016 up to 2019 before it was discontinued. A quick search online reveals that pricing varies between RM 56k for a first-year model and tops out at around RM 78k for a final year unit.
More importantly however, even the first-year models are still very much eligible for a loan now.
Which variant to go for?
It goes without saying here that given there isn’t much between the facelift and pre-facelift, the one to get is the 1.5V. If you do come across a facelifted 1.5V, that’s definitely the one to get.
Can’t put a price on that USB charging outlet in the second row.
Jokes aside, the facelift did also come with an optional Panoramic View Monitor system for an additional RM 2,332 back in the day. We’re not sure what the take up rate was for this but consider yourself lucky if you find a unit with this option.
Also Read: Scoop: A flop in Malaysia, all-new 2022 Toyota Sienta to be launched in Japan in August
Furthermore, the Sienta was sold with a 5-year, unlimited mileage warranty. So, if you go for a facelifted unit, the warranty will still be active… which paves the way nicely into the next section of this buying guide.
There aren't any.
We kid, we kid... but barely. It is a Toyota after all.
The reason we recommend getting a facelifted Sienta where the warranty is still active is due to the fact that some owners groups have noted that the steering wheel material peels off pretty easily. This could be due to a number of reasons, most likely heat.
Nonetheless, this purely cosmetic problem can be easily rectified as Toyota will replace it if the car is still under warranty. If it isn't, you can visit your local accessory shop and they should be able to rewrap the steering wheel for RM 350 or so, depending on the material of your choice.
Furthermore, a handful of owners have also mentioned squeaking noises from the belt tensioner. Again, Toyota will replace it under warranty. If you do opt for one that isn't covered by the warranty anymore, the tensioner will set you back in the region of RM 300 or so.
Lastly, owners have reported failure of the electric fan in the engine bay. This will cause the engine to overheat. Expect to fork out around RM 200 or so if you experience this and the warranty is already over.
Apart from those two issues, there’s really nothing else that will go with the Sienta. After all, it is a Toyota right? Even the powered sliding doors have proven to be bombproof all these years.
Misunderstood back when it was new, the burst in popularity for 7-seater mini MPVs should bless the Sienta with a renaissance of sorts. If it hasn’t, consider us as carrying out the lord’s work.
In a sea of mini MPVs that rely on large, wide-opening rear doors for access to the third row, the Sienta and its twin powered sliding doors just makes life that much easier. Plus, having a proper, flat floor with the seats folded can make a world of difference.
So, instead of always going for something new, why not consider something used that still puts most of the new options to shame by nailing the basics... 6 years ago.
If the idea of a Sienta has piqued your interest, you can start your search right here.