Ryan Heagy describes most minivans as a big box with an engine. Note the use of the word “more”. The 2021 Toyota Sienna, according to the Calgary driver, is atypical.
“Toyota has changed the lines of the Sienna, and it’s nowhere near as boxy,” he explains. “He’s got an attractive style, with decent body lines and contours. Even the shapes and lengths of the windows look good. They managed to make it look sporty – for a pickup truck. “
Now in its fourth generation, the Sienna is all new for 2021. Based on Toyota’s TNGA-K platform, the body has been infused with wide shoulders and pronounced fender flares. On the XSE FWD, Toyota took the sport up a notch, giving this particular model specially designed front and rear bumpers and dark-colored 20-inch split five-spoke alloy wheels. In Canada, eight Sienna trim levels are available; all are powered by the same 2.5-liter twin overhead cam four-cylinder engine mated to Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive system. There’s the LE, XLE, XSE, and Limited, and for a premium of $ 2,000 each is available with on-demand electronic all-wheel drive.
Heagy spent a week driving the XSE FWD – for front-wheel drive – and it’s one of the seven-passenger models. The LE-spec in both FWD and AWD can seat eight passengers, while the XLE FWD can also seat eight passengers. Heagy’s XSE FWD came equipped with the $ 5,500 tech package, outfitting the van with amenities such as LED fog lights, a digital display rear view camera, and a JBL 12-speaker audio system and a rear seat entertainment system. Finished in a color Toyota calls pre-dawn gray mica, the Heagy’s Sienna, before taxes, costs just over $ 53,000.
Used to the world of minivans, Heagy has owned one since he and his wife, Jennifer, welcomed their second child into the family. This van was a Pontiac Montana, and when it was written off as a wreck, Heagy replaced it with the exact same model. The family grew again when the twins were born, so there are now four children to carry. They still have the 2007 Montana and also maintain a 2016 Ford Expedition to tow their 30ft vacation trailer. As a project manager for a commercial woodworking company, Heagy is often on the road each week visiting sites in Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan. He drives the Montana for work, and it’s nearly 300,000 kilometers in it.
When Heagy first rode the Sienna, he was blown away by the styling.
“It almost looked like a concept vehicle that came to life,” he says, and adds, “it was futuristic and like something you’d expect to see at an auto show as a concept rather than a concept vehicle. ‘a production vehicle.
“For example, the dashboard sank in the center console, and the console itself floats (it’s technically called the bridge console, in Toyota parlance). I think Toyota did a good job with this design, and it’s not fancy at all. And the touchscreen sort of sits there in the middle, and it looks futuristic to me.
But that didn’t mean the Sienna, once Heagy settled into the eight-way power driver’s seat, was unfamiliar. Most of the controls, he says, were easy to find and intuitive to use. However, he says the heated steering wheel switch was slightly hidden, but once he knew where to find it, that wasn’t a problem. The instrument cluster was clearly visible, and Heagy, who is of average height at 5-foot-9, says the Sienna fits him quite well.
“If you’re taller, there was still plenty of room in there,” he adds.
As mentioned, Toyota has equipped every Sienna with the same four-cylinder internal combustion engine and hybrid drive system. It was Heagy’s first experience in a hybrid, and he couldn’t tell the difference between when power was supplied by the electric or gas side of the equation – unless he paid attention to the digital display. from the dashboard.
“In town the pickup was fine and offered good power, but on the highway I just felt it lacked power,” he says. “I felt like it worked to stay in the hills. On the flat sections of the road it was fine.
His takeaway from the hybrid experience?
“It’s incredibly good on fuel, and if I hadn’t taken it on the freeway, I don’t think it would have cost me more than $ 20 to fill it up when I picked it up,” says- he.
Equipped with a sport-tuned suspension, Heagy reports that the Sienna’s ride was neither stiff nor spongy, and the handling of the front-wheel drive van was impressive.
“I always felt connected to the road and in control, and there was little to no body roll in the corners,” and he adds, “It was a quiet pickup truck and I’m also picky about the sound of the wind. There was nothing egregious about the Sienna.
As for the utility of the van, Heagy liked to use the power sliding side doors and power rear hatch, all with kick sensor opening. Plus, it was easy to lower the rear seats and reconfigure the cargo space to accommodate most loads. There was plenty of room to transport the whole family, and all the kids thought it was cool. The younger ones liked the doors that opened without touching a handle, and the older ones liked the mood lighting and sound system.
The downsides, Heagy thinks, are a glare that appears on the glossy touchscreen and the slightly underpowered feeling the pickup gave him while driving on the freeway. The advantages, he says, are the style, comfort and fuel economy of the Sienna.
He concludes, “I think this van would suit a suburban family better, there’s plenty of room for everyone and everything.”
Toyota has spent a lot of time redefining what a minivan should look like. While retaining the characteristics expected of MPVs (square cab, hatchback, sliding doors), they added body contours and lines that arouse a sense of pride rather than reluctance or just a utility need. An aggressive grille, shaped nose, ample curves above the rear wing and a redesigned tail. Drivers will not be embarrassed to be seen in this children’s truck.
I synced my phone without any problem or having to read the instructions. I found out that the maximum number of devices the system can handle is five and had to remove one of the previous test drivers from the menu. The infotainment screen is great at night, but during the day, the glossy finish produces glare that can make it difficult to see some things. Rather than having buttons on the sides of the screen for the various menu options, I wish there was something on the touchscreen. The lettering is hard to read and really there is a touchscreen right next to the buttons, why not integrate them somehow?
With fresh snow last night, the Sienna is as safe as any four-wheel drive truck. It seems to be lower than most minivans I’ve driven, which lends itself to much better handling. When you are in this vehicle, it looks more like a car than a van, both in handling and the overall feel of the interior.
I am intrigued by the screen that tells you where the current is coming from. It has arrows that “flow” from an image of the battery to the wheels, from the motor to the wheels (or from the battery if it is charging the battery, or from the wheels to the battery if that is what is charging). While the powerhouse isn’t exactly exhilarating to drive, I will say the transition from battery to motor is flawless. The horsepower is more than enough for everyday driving and is also very even from standstill to highway speed, just not super exciting.
To date, despite daily driving, the fuel gauge has not moved!
My wife liked the design of the floating console as it left space underneath for a purse or purse and was a space well used. The kids liked the heated seats, the ability to plug in their own headphones in the back, and the ambient lighting on the dashboard that illuminated the ‘shelf’. They also liked the fact that all rear doors opened at the push of a button. To date, despite daily driving, the fuel gauge has not moved!
Decided to take the van for a Sunday drive down Hwy 22X to Bragg Creek, then north to Hwy 8 and back into town just to see how it worked on the freeway. The van operated with seamless transitions between battery and engine. However, the four-cylinder engine, while capable of maintaining highway speed, felt like it was working overtime on the slopes.
Filled with gasoline, only burned 27L during the week and that included the ride around the country. Washed and reclaimed, overall this was a great pickup truck loaded with lots of features and would be perfect as a daily kid’s transport truck in town.
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