The 2021 Toyota Sienna proves to be the ideal road trip

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Going-to-the-Sun Road climbs over 3,400 feet in Montana Glacier National Park. The road clings to cliff walls as it takes hairpin turns over glacial lakes and raging rivers. Mist like dragon’s breath fills the valleys and clouds cover the split mountain peaks with waterfalls. Passing through the crown jewel of the United States’ national park system, the road winds through 50 miles of terrain that is as breathtaking as it is heartbreaking. The Toyota Sienna 2021 Hybrid minivan was fearless. He seemed to revel in rising towards the sun.

According to the on-board computer, the redesigned minivan averaged 39.8 mpg during its day-long ride in the park and in the back, far exceeding the combined EPA rating of 35 mpg despite the fact that it is responsible for four people and equipment. And he did it without a problem. The hybrid transmission can be switched to manual mode for about six speeds for engine braking on steep descents. A Sport mode allows for quick overtaking on country roads that wind like ribbons through meadows and plains.

Outside of the park, Montana’s great outdoors and the 80 mph interstate speed limit dramatically reduced the efficiency of the freeway, as did my front foot. The Sienna dived below 30 mpg for interstate miles (the EPA rates it at 36 mpg on the highway), but it drove calm enough that the two teenage passengers slept like the toddlers they did. were yesterday. Able to travel approximately 460 miles between stations (the EPA says 630 miles), the Sienna’s fuel level and time efficiency is unbeatable for a family hauler. There were other pros and cons that we discovered during our two week trip from the Midwest to the far corner of Montana.

Coup: storage space

The 16 cup holders, seat back pockets, multi-tiered center console, and stowage compartment as deep as some vans meant there was room for four people, our gear and all of our essentials. daily adventure. Sunscreen, bug spray, masks, and other items fit easily into the locker, and the lower console was wide enough to accommodate my Rand McNally paper atlas that kids considered an artifact. Fixed second-row seats limit interior versatility – it can no longer double as a van body – but for commuting, every inch is optimized for cargo and people. We ditched the cargo organizers available behind the third row.

Coup: second row captain’s seats

Toyota Sienna 2021

Toyota Sienna 2021

Toyota Sienna 2021

Toyota Sienna 2021

Toyota Sienna 2021

Toyota Sienna 2021

The second row seats can be removed using tools, but an airbag warning message will then appear in the group and the touchscreen. I would have removed the one behind the driver’s seat and used the space for our cooler and for a wider gangway to the 60/40 split third row bench seat. But the captain’s seats slide 25 inches, are as comfortable as the front row seats, and provide lounge-like legroom. We used the third row for backpacks and necessary gear on the road, and put everything else in the cargo space in the back. A smart passenger was able to lean back and forth to gather in the back whatever was requested up front.

Miss: Limited rear entertainment system

Toyota Sienna 2021

Toyota Sienna 2021

Toyota Sienna 2021

Toyota Sienna 2021

Toyota Sienna 2021

Toyota Sienna 2021

Toyota ditched DVD and replaced it with the need to get an HDMI cord and an HDMI to smartphone adapter to load content from a smartphone. Is it too much to ask to connect a smartphone to the screen via on-board wi-fi or a USB cable? The 11.6-inch screen descends from the ceiling and limits rear visibility for the driver, even with the rearview camera. Seat back screens are better. You can also plug a portable DVD player into the 1,500-watt 120-volt outlet for uninterrupted entertainment in large spaces with spotty data.

Miss: Wireless charging without wireless Apple CarPlay

Seven USB ports and a 9.0 inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay / Android Auto / Amazon Alexa come standard. With its white-on-blue screen, tiled organization, and limited functionality, Toyota’s interface looks like it was five years old. Help is on the way from Lexus, but for now, infotainment is best used through a smartphone app. But you can only have one phone paired or connected at a time. Even though all models come with an available wireless charging pad cleverly placed on the shelf below the touchscreen, there is no wireless CarPlay. So you can either attach your phone to use CarPlay and charge it or use Toyota’s system while charging on the pad. You cannot have both ways of playing music via bluetooth and connecting another phone for navigation via CarPlay, for example.

Coup: smart security features

The driver’s side rear sliding door will not open if the fuel tank is open. The rear doors and the tailgate must be unlocked to open them; pulling on the inside handle will not. Some of the security locks are frustrating, such as not being able to change vehicle settings or connect a moving phone, but most of them make sense when used with caution.

The same goes for the standard driver assistance functions. As long as the lanes are clearly marked, adaptive cruise control and active lane control work together to provide around 20 seconds of hands-free driving, good enough for a neck wrap, arm stretch or a deep dive into the backpack. ‘food. The system evenly accelerates and brakes according to the lead car, with no sudden movements that might wake napping passengers.

Mademoiselle: Price

Toyota Sienna 2021

Toyota Sienna 2021

Toyota Sienna 2021

Toyota Sienna 2021

Toyota Sienna 2021

Toyota Sienna 2021

$ 54,582 is too much for a minivan. My Platinum tester had things I didn’t need, like the rear entertainment center and wireless charger, as well as the built-in footrests on the captain’s seats. Chrysler charges even more for its Pacifica Pinnacle AWD. High 2022 Kia Carnaval SX Prestige costs less than $ 48,000, but it only comes with front-wheel drive, like the Honda Odyssey Elite, it costs $ 1,500.

The 2021 Sienna makes a lot more sense than the $ 42,000 XLE with all-wheel drive. Value is further enhanced by the standard hybrid powertrain and security systems, and the XLE doesn’t sacrifice key features like second-row captain’s seats, heated front seats, and keyless start and entry on the four doors.

We’ve spent a lot of time and a lot more miles in the 2021 Toyota Sienna. I can’t recommend the Platinum finish due to the technology shortcomings, but mechanically and functionally there is no better family road trip.

_______________________________________

2021 Toyota Sienna Platinum AWD

Base price: $ 51,635, including destination

Price as tested: $ 54,582

Transmission: 2.5-liter in-line 4-cylinder developing 245 horsepower with two engines, part of a split-torque planetary hybrid system, with all-wheel drive on demand

EPA fuel economy: 35/36/35 mpg combined

Shots: Efficiency, economy, standard equipment, storage space, comfort of the captain’s chair

Failures: Platinum price, rear entertainment, lack of wireless smartphone integration


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