INTRO: When Richard Tawton was driving home from his job as a paratransit bus driver this spring, he was waiting at a red light when another driver started honking his horn. When he rolled down his window to see what was going on, the driver of the next vehicle shouted excitedly, “I just bought one too!”
The driver was referring to the 2021 Toyota Sienna XLE minivan driven by Tawton, which just hit the Canadian market earlier this year. It seems Tawton wasn’t the only one with his eye on the fourth generation Sienna, which is a complete overhaul of the previous iteration of the minivan. On the one hand, it’s a hybrid-only model, inspired by Japanese bullet trains, giving it a unique exterior (like, well, a bullet train), with a protruding front bumper. outwards. Gone is the V6, replaced by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder, powered by a hybrid-electric powertrain.
When Toyota announced the van’s release last fall with an online reveal, that’s when Tawton knew he had to have it. He tells us why he loves his vehicle:
FIRST PERSON: “When they announced it, I ordered it right away, and I was the first in the dealership to get the Sienna – right now they’re out of stock, they can’t get enough” said Tawton, who bought his van from Meadowvale Toyota in Mississauga. “They found me one in the color ‘plan’. It’s a deep, deep blue.
“This design is sold exclusively as a hybrid. The Sienna’s overall fuel economy easily outperforms other minivans. I think the XLE trim offers the best value for the money – I have the AWL seven passenger trim. I need all-wheel drive to help me get to my job in Caledon which has a lot of gravel roads.
Tawton lives in Cooksville and is semi-retired, but works as a bus driver two to three days a week for Caledon Community Services in Peel Region. “I drive to Caledon every time – that’s why I bought the Sienna, because it’s available with all-wheel drive, and I think you need it to drive in Canada,” he said.
He also remains active with organizations such as the Hamilton Trail Blazers, volunteers for the Royal Ontario Museum, takes cooking classes at George Brown College, and leads historical or architectural walking tours in Toronto for Walk and Roll. – who have just resumed. All this to say that he spends a lot of time on the road.
“It’s very stylish, it’s great, it has fantastic headlights,” Tawton said. “I have long sliding seats in the back – it’s a seven-seater and it’s like a limo in the back. You can slide them back and fold up the seats, and you can put a sleeping bag or a full-size bike in them. But it’s also very good on gas, around 800 to 900 kilometers per tank.
“And I’m no tech geek, but this has more computing power than the original space shuttle.”
TO LOOK CLOSER: 2021 Toyota Sienna XLE
Minivans are often considered the domain of soccer moms, where practicality trumps style. But the 2021 Sienna offers a much sleeker interior than its predecessors, propelling the old-fashioned MPV of yesteryear into the future. For example, there’s a floating center console that offers plenty of storage space underneath, which Tawton is a big fan of. “You can put a lot of stuff underneath. I put my PPE masks and cleaning products there. You can charge your phone there, above or below, and much more.
One of the biggest perks is that you don’t have to pay extra for a hybrid powertrain, as it comes standard with the 2021 model – rated at 6.5 liters per 100 kilometers of combined fuel mileage. “It’s so good on gas for its size,” Tawton said. “Ideal in snow and ice. I feel so safe in it, and it’s the only one in the van market that’s hybrid… with all-wheel drive. The 2021 Sienna is also based on Toyota’s TNGA-K platform, so steering is more precise and handling safer.
From the sunroof to the heated seats, this is a van designed for drivers, not just for transporting kids to football games. “I’ve always wanted a heated steering wheel. It’s so nice to have a cold day, ”Tawton said. “It has SofTex vinyl seats, so easy to clean, and they have three heat levels.” Speaking of seats, the legroom has increased in the second and third rows, while the second row features captain’s seats that can recline and even slide back and forth.