2021 Toyota Sienna First Drive: A Fuel-Efficient Family Hauler

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No one ever said a minivan was cool, although Toyota tried to come close with the “Swagger Van” marketing campaign for the previous generation Sienna. Today, Toyota is working even harder to eliminate the stigma that has plagued minivans since they first became popular in the 1980s and 1990s with the 2021 Sienna. It’s the most aggressively styled Sienna to this day.

The 2021 Sienna has a bold new exterior that tries to look a little more like an SUV than before. Its higher hood makes you think the Sienna is an SUV, at least from the front. Sliding doors make it impossible to ignore the fact that the new Sienna is still a minivan. As you back up, the Sienna looks nicer with its sculpted body.

Beneath that sleeker exterior, the Sienna is now based on Toyota’s TNGA-K platform, which is also used by the Highlander and RAV4. The wheelbase is 1.2 inches longer and a new multi-link rear suspension improves the Sienna’s feel on the road. The Sienna feels more planted on the road than before and its steering has also been improved.

Under the hood, there is now only one powertrain option, a hybrid powertrain. The 3.5-liter V6 ld has been dropped and the Sienna is now powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine mated to two electric motors to generate a combined 245 horsepower. If you want all-wheel drive, that’s an option, but that system has changed as well. The all-wheel-drive Sienna gets a third electric motor that powers the rear wheels. Its two biggest rivals, the Honda Odyssey and Chrysler Pacifica both have more horsepower, with the Odyssey making 280 horsepower and the Pacifica 287 horsepower under the hood.

As you’d expect, the 2021 Sienna is significantly more fuel-efficient than its predecessor. The front-drive 2021 Sienna is rated at 36 mpg city, highway and combined. It’s an improvement over the old Sienna with its 19 mpg city, 27 mpg highway and 22 mpg combined rating. The all-wheel-drive 2021 Sienna is rated at 35 mpg city, 36 mpg highway and 36 mpg combined.

2021 Toyota Sienna Review

Those ratings put the Sienna ahead of the standard Honda Odyssey and Chrysler Pacifica, which are both rated at 19 mpg city, 28 mpg highway and 22 mpg combined.

So even with its small 1.9 kWh nickel-metal-hydride battery, the Sienna can travel short distances, at low speeds in electric mode.

Minivan buyers don’t really care about acceleration numbers and care more about fuel efficiency, which is why Toyota made the right decision to switch to a hybrid powertrain. The 2021 Sienna is slower than the last generation, but again, few buyers will care. Around town, the new Sienna gets up to speed without too much drama, but it feels a little slower than the Odyssey and Pacifica. The Odyssey is also a bit more fun to drive than the Sienna. The good news is that it can tow up to 3,500 pounds.

2021 Toyota Sienna Review

Inside, the interior is a significant improvement over the last Sienna. This time around it feels more luxurious and less like a driving bus. The dashboard is sleeker and there are plenty of tech features, like a 10-inch color head-up display, 9-inch touchscreen and 12-speaker JBL audio system. We wish Toyota had updated the infotainment system software, because it still feels old and the gauge cluster doesn’t feel very modern either.

The good news is that the Sienna comes standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and an 11.6-inch rear entertainment screen is available. A built-in vacuum cleaner and a mini-fridge will also be available in the future.

To keep everyone safe, the Sienna comes standard with Toyota Safety Sense 2.0, which includes adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and pedestrian detection. .

Your friends and family will appreciate Toyota’s thoughtfulness inside the Sienna. It is more spacious and comfortable than before. The second-row seats can move forward and backward even further by 25 inches, and if you opt for the Limited or Platinum version with front-wheel drive, the seats convert to recliners with a lower folding section to make you even more comfortable. The third row is also comfortable and can fold completely to provide more space for your belongings.

Speaking of cargo space, there is a downside, the second row seats are not removable, since they contain side airbags. The second-row seats can fold down and slide against the front seats, but ultimately the Sienna has less cargo space than the Odyssey or Pacifica.

The 2021 Sienna is available in five trim levels: LE, XLE, XSE, Limited and Platinum. Pricing ranges from $35,635 for the base LE to $51,635 for the all-wheel-drive Sienna Platinum.

Minivans may not get as much attention as they once did, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more versatile vehicle for the family. If you’re looking for one, the segment is getting more competitive with the arrival of the new Sienna and the refreshed Chrysler Pacifica and Honda Odyssey. This time around, the Sienna stands out even more with its excellent fuel economy, sleeker exterior and interior that will keep even the most vocal child comfortable.

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