A few weeks ago, I wrote about a long trip I took in Kia’s new minivan called Carnival. Kia has one of the segment leaders, the Toyota Sienna, in its sights with its new MPV. And for good reason.
The Sienna has been at the top of the shrinking minivan segment for some time. Toyota redesigned the Sienna for the 2021 model year and also added a hybrid iteration. So now the Sienna has a new and improved look, but also economical fuel economy. There really couldn’t be a more ideal configuration for a minivan. This shows that the competition from Kia is a good thing.
Toyota couldn’t just sit back without giving the Sienna a makeover. And what they have come up with is quite appealing.
The grille alone is very different from that of the previous generation. It has Lexus qualities, which goes without saying since Lexus is the luxury branch of Toyota. Some intricate design cues add depth and intrigue to the front. There is certainly nothing vanilla on the front end of the Sienna now.
The profile is correct, but still very long and fairly typical of MPVs. The styling it had on the front loses a bit on the side panels. But then regains its mojo style at the rear with interesting curves and taillights that boldly burst into an interesting design. There even appears to be a very subtle spoiler at the top. But make no mistake, the Sienna, even redesigned, isn’t sporty.
The 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with two electric assists is the only powertrain available, meaning the Sienna is now fully hybrid. As mentioned, the Sienna isn’t sporty, but the electric-assisted motors deliver more torque than other non-hybrid vans, so there is an element of surprise when it comes to performance.
The Sienna is good for 245 horsepower but really drives a little faster than that. If you think it’s a big, heavy van with a Prius powertrain, you’d think it’s slow moving, but the Sienna isn’t lazy. It has sufficient power. Just enough.
The continuously variable transmission has frustrating tendencies like all CVTs, but like the engine, it’s adequate at what it does. My test model had the optional all-wheel drive, which I love.
To move your family, I like the assurance of all-wheel drive over standard front-wheel drive. This hybrid van will therefore perform better in adverse weather conditions.
The interior is where the Sienna becomes memorable and special. Like many minivans, the interior cabin is cavernous, useful and family-oriented. For large families, minivans like the Sienna are more ideal than most seven-passenger SUVs.
For 2021, the Sienna benefits from improved materials and contact points. The second row seats do not stow away and cannot be removed like other competitors. That inhibits some of its ingenuity, but the Sienna nonetheless has 101 cubes of overall cargo space with 33.5 cubic feet behind the third row. It’s less than the carnival mentioned above, but still awe-inspiring.
Toyota seems to have planned it all with today’s modern family in mind. Offering entertainment systems, USB outlets everywhere, including in the third row, as well as plenty of cup holders. There are even side pockets on the second row seats that can hold my tester’s entertainment system remote. Didn’t take this on a long family trip, but it would have been great if I had.
There are five trim options in total, including LE, XLE, XSE, Limited, and Platinum. My tester was the XSE which is just in the right place of options and prices. The base LE starts at around $ 35,000, while my tester had a starting price of $ 42,760. With the rear seat entertainment system, plus options like an advanced entertainment system, a special Ruby Flare Pearl exterior paint and my test model had a final MSRP of $ 48,029.
The fuel economy for this hybrid is the real star of the segment. The Chrysler Pacifica also offers a hybrid variant. The Sienna Hybrid has an EPA rating of 35 mpg / city and 36 mpg / highway.
There is no wow factor when it comes to minivans. But with impressive fuel economy and a redesigned super-large cabin with a more modern look, the 2021 Toyota Sienna Hybrid deserves at least a wo, if not a complete wow for everything it continues to offer families.