2021 Toyota Sienna first drive review: Minivan versatility, economy-car efficiency

Some vehicles can carry a load of passengers, others are extremely comfortable and many others offer incredible fuel efficiency. Plot these attributes on a Venn diagram and 2021 Toyota Sienna would land in the middle. It can accommodate up to eight adults, plus it’s suitably comfortable and surprisingly affordable. For drivers who haven’t completely turned their noses up on minivans, the new Sienna is a valid argument in itself.

One of the best arguments in favor of this Toyota is fuel economy. After a good old toss on a wide variety of roads, I averaged just under 35 miles per gallon in my platinum-trimmed all-wheel drive tester. This is pretty much the efficiency of an economy car, plus it is perfectly in line with this Toyota’s window sticker. According to the EPA, it should return 35 city mpg, 36 highway mpg and 35 mpg combined. Front-wheel drive models are rated at 36mpg across the board, and all-wheel drive is available across the range.

Providing that amazing real-world efficiency is a hybrid transmission, standard in all Siena 2021s. Yes, a traditional V6 is no longer offered. This gasoline-electric propulsion system, which is built around a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and a 1.9 kilowatt-hour nickel-metal hydride battery pack mounted under the front seats, delivers 245 horsepower, a a whole lot less than what you get or a Honda Odyssey (280 hp) or non-plug-in hybrid Chrysler Pacifica (287 CV).

As you might expect, the Sienna’s performance is perfectly adequate but uninspiring. It feels a bit warm in the city, exactly where you’d expect a hybrid to shine with instant torque provided by the electric motors. Paradoxically, this van looks more punchy on the open road, accelerating more vigorously. However, a little extra dizziness would be appreciated, especially if you’re carrying a full load or towing anywhere near this van’s 3,500-pound limit. When working hard, the Sienna’s sip-fuel transmission also sounds a little distressed, louder, and more grumbling than I remember being the Toyota Highlander hybrid, which basically has the same powertrain. Minor complaints aside, it’s hard to argue with the economy provided by this household hauler.

Riding on a derivative of the ubiquitous car manufacturer TNGA platform, Siena 2021 grows slightly compared to its predecessor. It is a fraction of an inch wider and 3.1 inches longer. Also, the wheelbase is 1.2 inches longer and the floor is slightly lower. The Sienna’s new base also provides increased stiffness, giving it an extraordinarily solid feel, while a new independent rear suspension design improves handling and refinement. The ride quality of this minivan is flexible, with little roughness from the road filtering through the cabin. Its interior also remains remarkably quiet, even at motorway speeds. Handling is benign and predictable, with some roll when pushed through corners, although my Platinum model is Bridgestone Turanza tires fitted to 18-inch chrome wheels give up long before you can get into trouble, howling even when lightly pushed. Braking performance is good, although the pedal feels rubbery and a little unnatural as it switches from regenerative to friction braking.

Toyota Sienna Platinum AWD of 2021

There are plenty of storage compartments inside the 2021 Toyota Sienna.

Craig Cole / Roadshow

But this is not something your passengers will ever notice. The accommodations aft of the Sienna are lovely, especially with the super-long-slide bucket seats, which are standard equipment on all seven-passenger models. Comfortably reclining, they move 25 inches back and forth to extend space, plus on the front-wheel drive Limited and Platinum models they also feature folding ottomans for even more luxury. As for this Toyota’s third-row seat, no, it doesn’t feature any integrated leg rests, but it’s plenty roomy for adult passengers and is very comfortable.

When it’s time to carry goods instead of people, those long-scrolling second row seats are, unfortunately, non-removable – well, not without a few tools and a service manual. This is because they contain airbags. Ditto for the eight-passenger models; even their second row seats cannot be pulled out. The Sienna’s second row seats, however, fold and push all the way to the rear of the front buckets, providing a generous amount of interior space, 6.5 feet from the backs to the tailgate, though it still has significantly less airspace. feet of space compared to an Odyssey or Pacifica. Fortunately, this Toyota can still carry 4×8 sheets of building material, with the plywood or drywall somehow awkwardly resting atop the second-row headrests.

The cab of the new Sienna is carefully designed and well built. Some of its interior materials are quite ordinary, but nothing is brittle or brittle. There are plenty of places to store things too, with a large compartment that runs across the dashboard and generously sized door pockets. I love the center console design, which looks like a bridge running from the back of the dash between the front seats. That console also makes the Sienna feel welcoming and open at the same time.

Toyota Sienna Platinum AWD of 2021

The comfort of the second row is one of the main strengths of this minivan.

Craig Cole / Roadshow

One disappointing aspect of this minivan is the infotainment system, which runs on a standard 9-inch tablet-style touchscreen. Bright and clear, it’s easy to reach, even if the software is mediocre at best, unattractive and not particularly intuitive. Toyota really needs to improve its multimedia offering these days, as well as backup and 360-degree cameras, which are gritty and quite inferior to those offered in other vehicles.

Fortunately, it’s not all bad news. The Sienna offers many other technologies, many of which are very useful. Apple CarPlay is Android Auto they are standard. A 10-inch color head-up display is included in the Platinum model, making it easy to monitor vehicle speed and navigation directions without taking your eyes off the road. A 12-speaker JBL audio system is available, as well as a clear 11.6-inch HD 1080p rear seat entertainment screen. To ensure everyone’s devices stay fully charged, seven USB ports are scattered throughout the cabin. Two convenient self-contained options with which you can have the Sienna include a 1,500 watt inverter with a household socket at the rear of the center console and another in the trunk, as well as a digital rearview mirror, giving you a much wider field of view behind the vehicle. The 2021 Toyota Sienna can also be ordered with a built-in vacuum cleaner and mini refrigerator, though these features will not be available immediately upon launch due to supplier issues.

When it comes to driver assistance technology, Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 is standard on all versions of the Sienna. This suite includes useful features such as automatic high beams, traffic sign recognition and pedestrian detection. Also included is adaptive cruise control with lane centering, which works as advertised, carefully adjusting speed based on traffic conditions and doing a commendable job keeping my tester in the center of his lane. Blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic warning are also standard on all slopes, which is great news.

Toyota Sienna Platinum AWD of 2021

With its insane fuel efficiency and lounge interior, the new Sienna is an all-star minivan.

Craig Cole / Roadshow

The look of the Sienna has grown on me since I first checked out a prototype model, but that front end, which was inspired by Japanese bullet trains, is still a bit too much, with its massive grille and headlights rear. But hey, I appreciate that Toyota took a risk here, and things get better as you go back. This minivan’s powerful rear fenders slide neatly into its signature taillights, giving it a well-made look in profile. The molded resin tailgate is also surprisingly elegant, with its integrated spoiler.

A base, front-wheel drive LE version of the 2021 Toyota Sienna starts at $ 35,635, including $ 1,175 in destination tax. The top-of-the-line, all-wheel drive Platinum model, shown here stickers for around $ 51,460, which is still a reasonable sum. I say “around” because it is a prototype; an official figure is not available at the time of publication.

There isn’t too much competition in the minivan segment right now. After looking at most of the contenders available, at the end of the day, I think Honda’s Odyssey is a little better to drive and the Chrysler Pacifica more attractive, but this Toyota is still an undeniably good family transporter, especially with the second ones similar to a throne, front seats and stellar consumption.

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