The 2021 Toyota Sienna could be a game-changer for minivans

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Minivans have suffered more persecution than any other vehicle in automotive history. When they became associated with ‘soccer moms’, it was open season for derision, against minivans as well as moms. In those years, ridiculing women was socially acceptable – not like now, when it isn’t. Not in public, anyway.

To be fair, the van has to take some responsibility for its own victimization. Impeccable in terms of utility, style, it was weighed in the balance and deemed insufficient, as the old saying goes.

The 2021 Toyota Sienna could redeem the minivan. All new from the ground up, it has a striking, chiseled exterior with a muscular emphasis. A pronounced crease in the side sheet metal starts near the front wheel arch, runs up and around a bulging rear wheel arch and meets the side edge of a wraparound taillight.

Every 2021 Sienna model is a hybrid and there are five trim levels: LE, XLE, XSE, Limited and Platinum. Each version is available with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. Pricing starts at $35,635 (including a $1,175 destination charge) for a front-drive LE.

The base LE trim has an eight-passenger configuration. The front-drive XLE is offered with seating for seven or eight passengers; with all-wheel drive, seven passengers only. All Limited and Platinum models have a seven-passenger configuration.

The Sienna’s hybrid powertrain features a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and two electric motors, producing a combined 245 horsepower. With front-wheel drive, it has the same fuel economy rating for city, highway and combined driving: 36 mpg. AWD ratings are 35 mpg city, 36 mpg highway and 35 mpg combined.

All models have a towing capacity of 3,500 pounds.

A smart bridge console between the front seats is a special feature of the 2021 Toyota Sienna interior. (Manufacturer photo)

The new Sienna interior features second-row captain’s chairs that slide 25 inches fore and aft. In the eight-passenger configuration, there is a fold-down center seat placed between the two chairs. The third-row seats fold into the floor, while the second-row seats don’t.

A power tailgate and power sliding side doors are standard on all models, and kick-style hands-free operation is added as a standard feature on all trims of the XLE and above.

I drove the front-drive 2021 Sienna Platinum model, priced at $51,075. All-wheel drive would cost $560 more on this trim.

Standard features on the top-level Platinum not found elsewhere in the Sienna lineup include automatic bi-LED projector headlamps, 360-degree view camera, rain-sensing windshield wipers, heated second-row captain’s chairs, a heated steering wheel and a heads-up. display.

An integrated vacuum system and center console refrigerator are also standard on the Platinum model, but were missing from my particular Sienna tester as it was an early production unit.

The most expensive option for my tester was a rear-seat entertainment system for $1,415. The $1,176 making up the balance was split between an assortment of individual optional items, including all-weather floor coverings (a $294 must-have in western Washington) and a digital rearview mirror with Homelink.

Defying its considerable size, the new Sienna has nimble handling on twisty roads and excellent maneuverability in crowded parking lots. Highway driving is luxurious. The large interior offers first-class comfort and generous carrying capacity for cargo items. The Platinum’s forgiving second-row captain’s chairs even have flip-up legrests.

A creative front-row bridge console sits high between the driver and front passenger, connecting the dashboard to the center armrest. A flat, open space the size of a cafeteria tray sits below deck, providing a perfect place to store a purse or other things.

Meanwhile, there are lockers, trash cans, pockets, and cup holders galore. The Sienna cabin would induce euphoria in a compulsive organizer.

So, with its fantastic new look, mechanical improvements, technological updates and fun to drive, what did I love most about the game-changing 2021 Toyota Sienna minivan?

His utility.

Hands-free kick-style operation for the power sliding side doors and tailgate is standard on the 2021 Toyota Sienna, except for the base LE model.  (Manufacturer photo)

Hands-free kick-style operation for the power sliding side doors and tailgate is standard on the 2021 Toyota Sienna, except for the base LE model. (Manufacturer photo)

TOYOTA SIENNA PLATINUM 2021

Base price including destination charges: $51,075

Price as driven: $53,666

Mary Lowry is a freelance automotive writer who lives in Snohomish County. She is a member of the Motor Press Guild and a member and past president of the Northwest Automotive Press Association. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturers on a one-week loan for review purposes only. Manufacturers do not control the content of reviews in any way.

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