To say the 2021 Toyota Sienna is brand new would be an understatement.
Between its bold new exterior design and its new hybrid-only power plant, Toyota is swinging for the fences with this latest version of its long-lasting minivan – looking to stand out and stand out from the rest of the van pack.
I recently spent some time in a 2021 Toyota Sienna, and I’m back with a full report on how these bold new changes work.
for your information
Vehicle: Toyota Sienna 2021
Price as tested: $48,029 (starts around $35,000)
Best Feature: Spacious and well-designed interior, bold new exterior design, hybrid fuel efficiency
Evaluation: 4 out of 5 stars
Who wants this vehicle? : Minivan enthusiasts who want a versatile family vehicle with high fuel consumption
Minivans aren’t known for being lookers, but I was pleasantly surprised when the 2021 Sienna showed up in my driveway with its bright red paint job.
With bold, aggressive styling and lines added to the exterior, from the grille to the rear and sides of the vehicle, this is a machine that definitely grabs your attention a lot more than previous iterations of the Sienna. Of all the minivans currently on sale, the only one that caught my eye more is the new Kia Carnival, but the Sienna closely follows and eclipses the designs of the remaining competitors.
The Sienna features 18-inch wheels, LED headlights with auto on/off, dual hands-free power sliding side doors, power tailgate and power sunroof.
The 2021 Toyota Sienna can accommodate 7 or 8 passengers, depending on whether the second row is a bench seat or the optional captain’s chairs. I tested a version with 7 seats and the Captain’s Chairs, which slide back and forth, and was very impressed with the spacious and versatile interior layout.
With all three rows of seats up, the Sienna will provide 33.5 cubic feet of cargo storage space. With the third row down, that number jumps to 75.2 cubic feet, and with the second row also down, you hit triple digits with 101 cubic feet of space. These are impressive numbers. This seating and storage versatility is essential for families and a big draw for the Sierra and minivans in general.
While the 2nd row seat will accommodate the most passengers (8), the configuration with the captain’s chairs offers the most space. And by the way, the Captain’s Chairs provide such a strong experience that you might have people wanting to sit in the 2nd row instead of calling the shotgun.
Whatever the configuration, all passengers will have plenty of head and legroom, but it is better to reserve the third row for your smallest passengers.
There is also tons of storage space inside the vehicle. You get a large shelf in the front for storage in addition to the center bin, for example. High quality materials are used inside the vehicle, more than you would expect from a non-luxury ride.
The vehicle offers four-zone automatic climate control, Softex-trimmed seats, as well as heated and power front seats.
HOW IS THE ROAD?
The Toyota Sienna arrives in 2021 with an all-new powertrain, and going hybrid is your only option. This decision was made to increase fuel economy and stand out from its competitors.
The Sienna is powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder hybrid engine, paired with two or three electric motors depending on whether you choose FWD or AWD. The system is mated to an electronic continuously variable transmission, and the Sienna features a sport-tuned suspension.
The total output of this hybrid system is 245 net horsepower and 288 lb-ft of torque.
These numbers, while decent, aren’t too powerful, but they’ll still get you moving at a decent pace. Sport mode is also available to help the experience a bit. I was a little disappointed with the braking, which sometimes took longer than expected.
Overall, the driving experience is decent and the vehicle handles well. Just understand that this ride (and all minivans, really) is about utility, not horsepower. To get the extra fuel economy out of this hybrid, you’re going to sacrifice some punch…but that’s probably acceptable to a lot of minivan buyers.
The 2021 Toyota Sienna offers an infotainment system that is intuitive and very easy to use, both through touch controls and voice commands. It featured a 9-inch touchscreen, navigation, Bluetooth streaming for phone and music, SiriusXM satellite radio with a 3 month trial, and there are 6 USB ports in the vehicle. The Sienna is also compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay for phone mirroring.
A rear-seat entertainment system is also available as an option, including a 1080p HD entertainment center with 11.6-inch screen, HDMI input, remote control and two pairs of wireless headphones.
An optional package adds wireless smartphone charging, black roof rails and an upgraded audio system including a subwoofer and amplifier.
Since minivans are primarily family vehicles, safety will be a priority for buyers. Toyota gives you a ton of solid safety features, including:
- Rear seat reminder (allows you to check the rear seats before leaving the vehicle)
- Front and rear park assist with automatic braking
- Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 including: Pre-Collision System w/Pedestrian Detection, Full-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert w/Steering Assist, Lane Keeping Assist, Auto High Beams and Signal Assist road
- LATCH system for child seats
- Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert
Being a hybrid, the fuel economy numbers on the Sienna have high expectations from potential buyers, and they live up to those expectations.
The official numbers are 35 city/36 highway/35 combined. In real-world testing, I had an average of 33.1, but I regularly used sport mode, so the number would increase with more careful driving.
The Sienna easily beats its non-hybrid competition in terms of fuel economy, but has a serious competitor in this area. The Chrysler Pacifica offers a plug-in hybrid that offers 32 miles of all-electric driving, 82 MPGe (gas and electric combined) and 30 MPG from the gasoline engine alone. Keep in mind that pricing for the Pacifica plug-in hybrid also starts at over $40,000.
Another interesting number: the Pacifica Hybrid can go 520 miles on a full tank of gas (and a full electric charge), but the Sienna can go over 600 miles on a full tank of gas.
The 2021 Toyota Sienna I tested had all the bells and whistles and cost just over $48,000; its base price starts around $35,000. This price range is similar to what you’ll find in competitors like the Kia Carnival, Chrysler Pacifica (non-hybrid) and Honda Odyssey, and as mentioned above, it’s a lower starting price than the Pacifica hybrid.
With the 2021 Sienna’s strong fuel mileage, you’ll also save on gas prices in the long run. Also keep in mind that Toyota’s high reliability probably means a long vehicle life.
The 2021 Toyota Sienna is one of the strongest minivan options out there, with its new hybrid-only approach. It will take you far on a tank of gas and is designed for maximum versatility of use for you and the family. Even in the face of fierce competition like the all-new Kia Carnival, it holds up very well and is worth a test drive.
Matt Myftiu can be contacted by email at [email protected] Its past reviews can all be viewed online at autotechreviews.com.