Just a few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to briefly experience the Toyota Venza version 2.0 2021. This presentation “face to face” – one member of the automotive press at a time, compared to what they call it “an overabundance of caution” – was certainly unusual after so many years covering the world’s largest industry, but in the context of the current pandemic, this solution mentioned by Toyota Canada has the great merit of allowing us to learn more about a new vehicle than can be found in a press release and a photo gallery.
Last week it was the turn of the other new 2021 hybrid, the Sienna minivan, to be presented for the show and tell. The model gets a makeover after 10 years in the same shape. In the process, Toyota’s most versatile and practical model also becomes the 10th in the company’s Canadian lineup to offer an electrified powertrain, barely 20 years after the appearance of the very first Prius in 2000.
The only difference between the two Toyota encounters – aside from the model itself, of course – was the location. While summer was in full swing, the event took place in the middle of nature. For the rest, however, this speed dating session with the Sienna followed the same scenario as that of the Venza crossover in May.
Enough of it all though; Here are the highlights of our first contact with the new Toyota Sienna 2021 which, for the occasion, was presented in two trim levels: XSE front-wheel drive and four-wheel drive Platinum. It should also be noted that the two vehicles were pre-production vehicles, a detail which explains, among other things, the shiny finishes of certain plastics in the passenger compartment.
A word about design
As always, the official images from the manufacturer are stunning, with spectacular scenery and superb image quality. But they do not give the more complete impression that an in-person vehicle tour does. For this fourth generation of minivan, Toyota’s design department has decided to opt for a more dramatic silhouette, in line with the brand’s recent creations, including the revised 2020 Highlander. The bumper features huge mesh under the Sienna’s blue crest, while the hood is raised, not only for added crash safety, but also to give this van a look that snuggles up more intimately with it. three magic letters: SUV.
From the side, the new Sienna has fairly understated windows, the exact opposite of the muscular fenders that end with the pinched taillights. This design race forced engineers to come up with an unusually shaped fuel filler flap. And as the trend is to equip newer models with large-diameter rims, the Sienna sports 20-inch wheels which, I must admit, look small in those large wheel arches. I’ll bet a 22-inch wheel set will be added to the options list within a year or two.
The interior, invariably the greatest strength of a minivan due to all the space available and the comfort that comes with such a spacious vehicle, reveals both a lot that one expects to find and a few surprises. . Let’s start with the new features, which on their own are often the ones designed to make consumers salivate. And so we find a dashboard that deviates completely from that of the outgoing model, in particular the raised and floating center console. Underneath is a large empty space just begging to accommodate a backpack or purse.
The optional 12-inch touchscreen is reminiscent of recent Toyota models, while an optional head-up display above the instrument panel makes it easier for the driver to keep their eyes on the road. Then there are the eye-catching things like a fridge and vacuum cleaner, both located in front of the second row occupants. Both options are only available with the most premium finishes. Looking at it, however, the cooler compartment is only good for a few bottles of water, so don’t get too upset.
As for the expected equipment, well, it is a minivan, which means that the interior volume rivals that of some city apartments. The layout of the seats in the second and third rows is also very conventional. Toyota prefers to offer a second bench (or two captain’s seats) that can slide on very long rails to facilitate access to the third row, rather than offering the possibility of removing them or tucking them into the floor as is. the case at Chrysler. On the other hand, they seem very easy to handle, just like the third row, which has been using this method for a very long time; regulars will have no trouble getting used to it.
Hybrid fuel consumption
Toyota promises an average fuel consumption rating of 7.1 L / 100 km, a figure that comes close to that of the new Venza (5.9 L / 100 km). The Sienna is of course heavier, which explains the difference. However, when you consider the 11.0 L / 100 km output of the outgoing Sienna (front-wheel drive), the new Sienna cuts that down to almost 4.0 L / 100 km, if my miscalculations don’t let me. fall. This is something that should appeal to consumers accustomed to large MPVs.
Miserly fuel consumption is largely attributable to the powertrain, borrowed from the latest hybrids from the Toyota family (Highlander, RAV4, Venza). In this system, an efficient 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine works in concert with three electric motors (two at the front and one at the rear axle).
On board the larger Sienna, the power of this unit is 243 hp – a considerable loss compared to the 298 hp of the V6-powered 2020 Sienna. Jocelyn Daneau, Regional Manager for Toyota Canada, told me that the more instantaneous torque of the electric motors should more than compensate for the reduction in brute force. Time (and a real test drive) will tell if hybrid technology is appropriate for this type of vehicle.
New platform, new driving pleasure?
The new Toyota Sienna is the latest in a long line to use Toyota’s promiscuous TNGA architecture (TNGA-K in this case). Certainly, this base gave the most recent models of the brand a welcome verve. Will it be the same story for the minivan? Here, too, a test drive is required before you can answer this.
On the flip side, it’s likely that most minivan drivers won’t even notice the new Sienna’s change in foundations. You don’t get a family minivan to pretend you’re in an 86 coupe, or even a Corolla. The other, other In hand, every little detail counts these days, from the increased rigidity of the platform to the more precise steering. As for what’s under the hood, I can say with certainty that buyers will fall madly in love … with the Sienna’s performance at the pump!
See you in November (if not before) for a first in-depth test of the 2021 Toyota Sienna.
2021 Toyota Sienna pictures