The Sienna is nearly unchanged between 2011-2020 – except for one very important difference between the 2011-2014 Sienna and the 2015-2020. The 2015-2018 has lower anchors and a tether anchor in 3P, the 2011-2014 does not have any anchors (lower or tether) for 3P.
This has significant implications for what you can put in 3P. In the 2011-2014 you can NOT put a forward-facing child as there is no tether anchor, and all forward-facing car seats need to be tethered.
In the 2011-2014, 3P can ONLY be used for a rear-facing car seat OR a booster (booster means the child sits on the booster and uses the vehicle’s seat belt across them as their restraint).
In the 2015-2020, 3P can be used for a rear-facing car seat, forward-facing car seat, or a booster.
We used a 2018 Sienna for this project, and therefore you will see forward-facing car seats shown in 3P. The Sienna comes in a 7 seater or 8 seater model (the extra seat is 2C). We used an 8-seater for this project. We know many families choose a Sienna because it is the only minivan with AWD – and sadly the AWD model is only available as a 7-seater.
The trouble with 2C…
2C is exceptionally narrow. In fact, it borrows from the arm rests for 2D & 2P to actually have a wide enough back rest, and the shoulder belt for 2C is actually attached to 2D. Since there is no tether anchor for 2C, we did not try any forward-facing car seats there. We did try rear-facing car seats (both infant seats and convertible seats) and boosters (both high back and backless). Let’s just say if our success rate for fitting a car seat in 2C were a batting average, we’d be kicked off the team.
We could not find any rear-facing only seat that worked in 2C. We tried the Cybex Aton2, Graco SnugRide SnugLock (both versions of the base), Nuna Pipa, and Chicco Fit2 & KeyFit. All were many inches too wide to fit in 2C.
We could not find any high back or backless boosters that worked in 2C. We tried many of the narrower boosters: Maxi Cosi RodiFix, Evenflo BigKid/Amp (high back & backless), Graco Turbo TakeAlong (high back & backless), Safety 1st Incognito (it lifted up too much at the knees), Chicco GoFit – and all were many inches too wide to fit in 2C, and many sat 5 or more inches forward of 2C’s back rest.
What does work in 2C?
Rear-facing: The rear-facing Clek Foonf and rear-facing Clek Fllo (must use anti-rebound bar for it to fit) both installed securely in 2C. You’ll absolutely need to do the recline the seat back trick here – and you’ll find that the anti-rebound bar tucks itself perfectly into the gap between the 2D/2P arm rests and ends up fitting like a glove.
Should you choose a rear-facing Foonf or Fllo in 2C?
With a rear-facing Clek Foonf in 2C you can move (with a bit of muscle) 2D/2C forward & back to allow for 3rd row access. However, with a rear-facing Clek Fllo in 2C you can not move 2D/2C for 3rd row access. Why the difference? It seems like the seat belt buckle for 2C sits a little differently when Foonf is installed vs Fllo and with Fllo the buckle for 2C digs into the seat cushion for 2P a little more in a way that you just can’t slide 2D/2C because it gets caught into 2P. Note that 2P will not slide for 3rd row access with either Foonf or Fllo installed in 2C.
Foonf always sits higher to the roof of the vehicle than Fllo does – which means Foonf will be more likely to block the driver’s view out the rear view mirror when installed in the center seat than Fllo. With the head rest on the Foonf adjusted for a 2 year old we found that the visibility loss was about half of the rear window – while the Fllo needed to be adjusted for a 4 year old to take up half of the rear window’s visibility. I drove with a rear-facing 43 inch child (max rear-facing capacity for both Clek’s) in a Fllo in 2C in the Sienna and was comfortable with the visibility I had.
Backless boosters: The Boostapak fit best – with just 1 finger of a gap between it and the backrest for 2C. The Harmony Youth booster & Cosco Rise had a 3 finger gap between them and the back rest. This gap is due to the fact that the arm rests for 2D/2P protrude several inches forward of the backrest for 2C.
While 2C is very narrow, the 2nd row as a whole is fairly wide. With a car seat in 2C, we found that 2P was a little narrower than 2D. Therefore, once you put one of the few seats in 2C that were narrow enough to fit there (rear-facing Clek Fllo/Foonf, or a backless booster – Boostapak, Harmony Youth, or Cosco Rise) you’ll have room for other narrower car seats in 2D/2P.
Here’s what we tried in 2D/2P while we had a rear-facing Clek in 2C and found to fit nicely:
2 Infant Seats in 2D/2P: Chicco Fit2, Cybex Aton2, Graco SnugRide SnugLock, Nuna Pipa. We installed all of these seats with LATCH. The carriers easily came in/out of the base with no interference from the rear-facing Clek in 2C. On the Cybex & Nuna we used the load leg.
Note that the Nuna’s load leg will still allow you to slide 2D/2P for 3rd row access, while the Cybex’s load leg will not allow you to slide 2D/2P (unless you shorten the Cybex load leg, slide the vehicle seat, and then lower the Cybex load leg back to the floor).
2 Rear-facing Convertible seats in 2D/2P: Graco Extend2Fit (both the regular model and the 3-in-1), Clek Foonf or Fllo.
These are just the ones we tried – you’ll likely have success with the majority of the narrower convertible seats on the market in 2D/2P (especially when installed with LATCH).
2 Forward-facing car seats in 2D/2P: Clek Foonf
We installed the forward-facing Foonf with rigid LATCH (+ tether + seat belt as shown in the manual) and found that we had a 1 finger gap between the Foonf in 2P and the Fllo in 2C and a 2-finger gap between the Foonf in 2D and the Fllo in 2C. It seems that 2P is slightly wider than 2D.
2 High-back boosters in 2D/2P:
Each of the 3 seats in back have their own unique challenges to fitting car seats/boosters.
3D & 3C are significantly narrower than 3P.
3P’s buckle is rigid and angled very far forward – which prevented a secure installation of most forward-facing car seats when we tried to install them with a seat belt (the Britax Frontier/Pinnacle was a notable exception and did install securely with a seat belt).
3D & 3C’s buckles are on several inches of webbing which is too long for many forward-facing car seats and will need to be twisted down
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