The minivan was once the royalty of Canadian road travel. The suburbs were dotted with seven-seater cars loaded with hockey bags, groceries, crushed goldfish crackers and spoiled milk. In my own close family, all six families with vehicles had at least one van in the driveway at the same time. Today the minivan star has faded but the vehicles are better than ever. With high technology and comfort that I could not have dreamed of at 14 years old. The Toyota Sienna and the Chrysler Pacifica are two of the best, an all-new and a completely redesigned for 2021. We’re taking a look at which one rules the seven-seater perch, and which one will leave you wondering, “Are we here yet?” “
When it comes to the minivan, there’s not a lot of styling to go. Short hood, square roofline, lots of glass. It’s in the details that designers play, with the Sienna with surprisingly scalloped rear sides and the Pacifica sporting a subtle and elegant mesh grille. There’s no winner here, although the Sienna’s bumper-less rear makes us worried about the inevitable parking bump despite all the cameras and sensors.
Inside, the Pacifica is miles ahead of the Sienna to make you feel like you’re in a luxury car, not a van. More woods and softer tones make it a much more calming place than the Sienna’s acres of plastic. On the other hand, the Sienna’s dashboard shelf is a triumph of interior design and practicality and absolutely deserves your full attention. And your phone while it’s charging wirelessly.
Performance, handling and handling
They are minivans. Both are far more capable than you’ll ever use in the corners (the Pacifica wears Pirelli P-Zero tires, for god’s sake), but neither will ever encourage you to give it a try. What matters is that both are equally stable on the highway, both are comfortable on bumps, and neither gives you that endless fluttering feel of pickup trucks anymore. old which ends in motion sickness. Likewise, both have steering wheels that are attached to the wheels, but the connection could just as easily be done via Bluetooth.
Performance is another story. Chrysler offers a choice of a 3.6-liter V6 on its own or combined with a large electric motor and 51 km of range as a PHEV. The gasoline-only van makes 287 hp and 262 lb-ft while the PHEV makes 260 hp in total.
The 2021 Toyota Sienna is hybrid only with Toyota’s familiar 245 horsepower (AWD models have another engine at the rear but the same horsepower) and CVT. It’ll crush Pacifica gas at the pump, but the Pacifica is less thirsty than any three-row crossover, so that’s not the benefit you might expect. Our observed economy was 6.5 L / 100 km for the Sienna, 10.5 for the Pacifica AWD (expect mid-8 for FWD models).
The Pacifica’s V6 is much more satisfying on the road, especially on the highway. Sienna feels sluggish in comparison, the hybrid’s lag between throttle opening and power delivered (plus the rough noises it makes at full throttle) doesn’t help.
It’s the bread and butter of the minivan. The reason they exist. To transport people and goods more efficiently than a box truck. The Sienna offers 2,860 liters of total space, including 949 liters behind the third row and 2,129 liters when folded. The Pacifica crushes those numbers with 3,979 liters when all seats are gone, although it’s closer to 2,478 behind the second row and just slightly behind with 915 liters behind the third row.
In these premium vans, both allow you to fold the rear seats flat into the ground and when the seats are up there’s a cargo bay that almost touches the pavement.
Where Toyota has lacked for years is the flexibility of its rear seats. The second row slides back and forth, and you can’t slide them all the way back with the third row in place, which means there’s more legroom in the second row than a salon. But you can’t fold the seats flat. We don’t mean flat in the ground; we mean they won’t bend flat at all. They sort of move forward. And the seats on this XSE couldn’t be removed, so forget to put a sheet of plywood or a long box from Ikea in it.
Chrysler’s third row sinks into the floor (on Limited and Pinnacle it’s manual on others) and the seats lock into place. All Sienna has a manual third row, and it doesn’t lock, so if there’s no top load, the folded seats bounce back and make a lot of noise. They are also uncovered, which means it is easy for even larger items to fall into the mechanism. Chrysler has lids that automatically snap into place to stop this.
On all models except Pacifica Pinnacle (even with all-wheel drive) and PHEV, the second row folds into the floor to give you completely flat cargo space. The second row of all models folds flat, so while you can’t stow the second seats, you can have a large, flat platform that can hold a sheet of plywood or a mattress. This Pinnacle trim has huge storage compartments in the floor where the seats of the lower trim levels will go.
For legroom, give Toyota the win. For everything else, Chrysler is hosting a Masterclass on how to make the most functional vehicle on the market. There’s even a vacuum cleaner so you can clean up quickly while you’re on the go. Both will comfortably fit at least six adults, with Chrysler offering more headroom.
Driver assistance functions are important here, with blind spot monitoring and pedestrian emergency braking standard on both. Sienna has rear cross-traffic, lane departure, lane-keeping, automatic high beams, and standard full-speed radar cruising across the board, while Chrysler puts some on everything but the base and d ‘others in an optional set. Chrysler gives you the optional vacuum as well as a rear seat camera that lets those in the front see exactly who is touching whom in the back.
When it’s time to embarrass the kids by playing your childhood music way too loud, both vehicles offer Apple CarPlay and Android Auto – it’s wireless on Pacifica – while Sienna offers a standard 9.1 screen. inches and Pacifica 10.1. Chrysler’s Uconnect 5 is a much more user-friendly and advanced system, and it looks better too. Although both models have improved sound, JBL for Toyota and Chrysler-branded Harman / Kardon, neither of them exactly gives you an audiophile experience, but at least Chrysler’s is loud enough.
Both have hard plastic fillers lining the interior walls of vans, but Chrysler’s plastics seem much stronger and more durable. They also have a lot less flex and slope when you touch them and the Chrysler squeaks a lot less on the road.
Equipped in a similar fashion, a base Pacifica Touring costs about $ 7,900 more than the Sienna. But Chrysler has the Grand Caravan waiting for you in the showroom if you need a lower price. At the top, that Pinnacle trim is $ 62,295 versus $ 58,190 for a loaded Sienna (and our XSE tester with tech pack was $ 51,190. While we normally stick with MSRP comparisons, Chrysler currently offers (and for a while) 15% off. from Pacifica making this one only $ 59,628 at your dealership today and giving the two very similar payouts. With that in mind, Chrysler seems to be a slightly higher value.
Chrysler invented the modern minivan and claims more than 116 firsts in the history of its minivans. It feels like there is as much passion in this area as there are 700+ horsepower V8s on the other side of the company’s engineering department. While Toyota is no stranger to the minivan, their insistence on an odd and impractical second-row layout, cheaper interior trim, and a frustrating infotainment system can’t overcome the charming dashboard shelf and place the Sienna firmly in second place. . Toyota narrowly missed the details here, giving Chrysler the top spot.