Test Drive: 2021 Toyota Sienna XSE

0
0 0
Read Time:6 Minute, 25 Second

Standard hybrid powertrain saves fuel in this spacious family van

Content of the article

On the cusp of its fourth generation, the Toyota Sienna rushes headlong into a declining minivan segment with new styling and an electrified hybrid powertrain. As a nameplate that dates back nearly 25 years, Toyota is one of the last pickup trucks standing in what was once a crowded, crowded market.

Advertisement 2

Content of the article

I’ll settle my complaints about the powertrain before diving into other aspects of this well-thought-out minivan. For 2021, Toyota has chosen to integrate a hybrid powertrain into every Sienna it makes, regardless of trim level. Making just 245 horsepower from its combined gas and electric guts, it’s simply underpowered. Hoofing the Sienna to speed up a freeway ramp produces a drone like Charlie Brown’s professor, except she’s constantly yelling at you. The deployment of a continuously variable transmission instead of an actual gear unit. Acceleration is surely even more lukewarm in the heavier all-wheel-drive variants compared to our front-wheel-drive tester.

Advertisement 3

Content of the article

But – and this is key – the trade-off with this powertrain is its ability to generate exceptional fuel efficiency. We saw a stated average of 5.3 L/100 km over an hour-long highway ride while being reasonable with the throttle but still maintaining the posted speed limit. Given that performance, keeping this bus in the 6.0 or 6.5 L/100 km range on the highway shouldn’t be a problem. In the long run, it’s far more likely that the typical minivan customer cares a lot more about those kinds of numbers than outright acceleration.

It’s clear that Toyota has put a lot of thought and effort into the new Sienna’s interior, starting with the so-called ‘flying bridge’ console that branches off the front seating area like those plastic bulkheads at the checkout counter. It puts the gear selector and a few cupholders within easy reach, while offering space for a sleek wireless phone charger and a pass-thru storage area below deck. USB ports appear with the frequency of dandelions on a front lawn and the controls for adjusting the ventilation – in all rows – couldn’t be simpler. Driver Easy Speak, part of a $5,500 tech package, allows the driver to direct their voice clearly to the rear speakers in an effort to address ungrateful children.

Advertisement 4

Content of the article

Speaking of rear seats, the second row is actually where most humans will want to reside. This XSE version includes Super Long Slide seats in this area, which can be moved up to 25 inches forward or rearward. This opens up limo-like legroom (at the expense of third-row passengers, of course) or the simple ability to place warring siblings in places not directly adjacent to each other. It’s more important than non-parents might imagine.

An optional rear entertainment screen drops from the ceiling instead of being mounted on the front seatbacks, blocking the view of those cops on your six. The huge power-operated sliding side doors have a sensor for hands-free opening when hands are full and – praise the pharaohs – a molded icon on the rocker panel to show exactly where to kick for not standing in the parking lot looking like goals scored by Leo Messi.

Advertisement 5

Content of the article

  1. Minivan Comparison: 2021 Chrysler Pacifica vs 2021 Toyota Sienna

    Minivan Comparison: 2021 Chrysler Pacifica vs 2021 Toyota Sienna

  2. From an armada of minivans to just 5 suitors

    From an armada of minivans to just 5 suitors

Unfortunately, since this is a Toyota, the quality of the materials goes down faster than the third-period Maple Leafs when moving through the rear cargo area. The biggest complaint from family units that tried this machine was that the third-row bench seat doesn’t fold completely flat. Where the Chrysler Pacifica tacos and flips that perch so that the bottom of the hard seat becomes a flat load floor, Toyota engineers simply opted to sandwich the thing – like closing a book – and drop into a deep well just ahead of the rear bumper.

It looks fine on paper (or even on the digital screen you’re reading) but in reality it’s a bad solution. From the seat return and not the bottom now serves as a load floor, flimsy carpeted flaps are needed to hide the now sunken head restraints in an effort to cover vast crevices into which various objects will surely fall. As a parent, your author can guarantee that things will be get lost there – headphones, small toys, gummy bears, etc. The walls in this area are also covered in hard plastic which is admittedly fine (and easily washable) for kids who are likely to make a mess anyway, but the materials are flimsy and feel cheap for a $53,000 bus.

Advertising 6

Content of the article

So let’s get out of the loading area and back to the land of the living. This is a nicely styled vehicle, and not just in a left-handed “for a pickup truck” type compliment. The front fascia is said to have been inspired by the Japanese Shinkansen bullet train, with headlights wrapping around the sides as if sculpted by the wind. In fact, there’s a lot of aero sculpting all over the Sienna’s new body, including dips and flares towards the rear. The sliding door tracks disappear perfectly into the base of the rear side windows.

It’s clear that Toyota has put a lot of thought into the practical aspects of its new Sienna and, with the exception of that folding rear seat, everything works extremely well. Perhaps more importantly to some, its hybrid powertrain is sure to save money at the pumps while the available all-wheel drive offers some comparison to SUVs and crossovers in terms of safe winter driving.

The minivan market may be shrinking fast, but those that remain — like the 2021 Sienna — are exceptionally good at their job.

comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively yet civil discussion forum and encourages all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments can take up to an hour to be moderated before appearing on the site. We ask that you keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications. You will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, if there is an update to a comment thread you follow, or if a user follows you comments. Visit our Community Rules for more information and details on how to adjust your E-mail settings.

Happy
Happy
0 %
Sad
Sad
0 %
Excited
Excited
0 %
Sleepy
Sleepy
0 %
Angry
Angry
0 %
Surprise
Surprise
0 %
Share.

Average Rating

5 Star
0%
4 Star
0%
3 Star
0%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%