GLENEDEN BEACH, Ore. – How does 39.4 mpg work for you? This is the fuel economy we got during 454 miles of driving a 2021 Toyota Sienna XLE AWD, which is nothing short of outstanding. While virtually every mile driven is two-lane freeways, half of that total was made with four adults on board plus a baby, two 20-pound dogs, and every remaining inch of space filled with their collective belongings. In other words, it was not a test of fuel economy at the best of times. In fact, since the aforementioned baby was screaming his head most of the time, the throttle was sometimes used quite widely to paraphrase, “Bring us the F home.” I should also note that 39.4 mpg is an actual calculation based on the trip odometer and gas pump – the car’s fuel economy gauge actually showed our efficiency to be slightly worse at 38.4 mpg. .
According to EPA, the 2021 Sienna is estimated to hit a 36 mpg highway regardless of FWD or all-wheel drive, with the FWD version doing a bit better combined at 36 mpg versus 35. The same drivers also managed only 29.6 mpg during the race. Sienna vs Pacifica Hybrid comparison test despite much less weight on board (the route was totally different and with fewer kilometers traveled, so it is less statistically valid). With any of those numbers, however, you’re bound to save several hundred dollars each year by filling the Sienna over the V6-powered Honda Odyssey, Kia Carnival, or Chrysler Pacifica, all of which get 22 mpg. combined. It cannot be stressed enough how much this gives the Sienna an advantage over everything but the plug-in-only Pacifica Hybrid.
Still, there is more to report from my extended stay with the new Sienna than just its better-than-expected fuel mileage. The Super Long-Slide second row seats, which impressed us so much in the comparison test, continued to do so when subjected to more demanding service. We slid one side as far as the infant car seat allowed, freeing up as much room as possible for the luggage stacked on the 40-piece folded portion of the third row. We then slid the other second row captain’s seat back so my wife could easily take care of the crying baby while still leaving enough room for Grandma to get into the caboose. By the way, she said she was very comfortable there without any complaints. No mention of the bottom of the seat, which I found a little shallow compared to that of the Pacifica.
The storage in the car also proved to be as useful as expected. The unique mesh cup holder on each captain’s chair could contain the baby sound machine (totally ineffective). The giant storage space under the console was big enough to hold my entire computer backpack, while the covered center console bin could swallow my camera bag and two sunglasses cases.
It’s not just roses inside, however. This test pickup was the XLE trim, which is three rungs down the trim ladder from the Platinum driven in the compare test and on John Snyder’s first drive to Sienna. There is a marked reduction in the quality of the materials. Specifically, instead of the leather-look quilted vinyl sewn to the dashboard in the Platinum, Limited, and XSE trims, the XLE dashboard is a hard, textured plastic. The doors also lose the stitched vinyl, but the top trim remains soft. The edges of the center console to do keep the leather-like vinyl trim, but in between is an unusual rust-colored plastic trim with raised lines and subtle metallic speckles. It’s weird, and while maybe better than overtly fake wood, it looks cheap. You can see the differences in the side by side gallery below.
All of that is bad considering this Sienna XLE AWD with the Plus Package and Stick-On Rear Seat Entertainment System for $ 48,087. The Sienna Platinum tested in the comparison test was $ 53,666 (add a surprisingly reasonable $ 210 for all-wheel drive). Maybe its handful of extra features and a few pieces of padded vinyl aren’t worth the extra $ 5,600, but the fact remains that the interior of our XLE test van certainly didn’t look or the impression he was wearing a sticker approaching $ 50,000. Platinum and Limited trims do this, especially since they have real leather. The XLE has SofTex vinyl, which admittedly might be considered a plus for some due to its superior wear and no cow killing.
Otherwise, the main takeaway was the driving experience. Once again, the new Sienna’s steering and handling has proven to be a cut above the rest. This minibus is no fun, but neither is it some giant inert marshmallow that makes you regret the day you had a child (the previously mentioned kid screaming for two hours was doing enough of a business there- low).
Potency, or the lack of it, is probably the biggest issue. It develops 245 horsepower, compared to 280 horsepower in the Odyssey, 287 in the V6 Pacifica and 290 in the Carnival. This is a significant shortcoming and you will certainly notice it when you set foot on the ground. The electronically controlled continuously variable transmission of the Toyota Hybrid System does not help matters, as it moans loudly when you step on the accelerator.
That said, it’s more about the fact that Hers only has sufficient power while the others have wealth. Although fully loaded, the Sienna didn’t feel strained and the engine didn’t consistently pump up the bowels, even over the many steep hills during the two round trips it made between Portland and the coast. from Oregon. In addition, the electric motors on each axle provide a large and regular torque. This is especially the case while maintaining speed on the freeway, which is usually the case when a non-hybrid CVT can get annoying by constantly going back and forth between barely idle and a much higher rev range. .
Ultimately, would you rather have a 290 horsepower V6 Carnival when you have to walk past a 45/55 Subaru Outback while your baby is screaming? I know I would. However, would I rather have that or 39.4 mpg and hundreds of dollars extra in my pocket every year? Again, easy choice, I’ll take the hybrid, please – although I’d probably spend a few bucks more per month on a Limited or Platinum.