The Toyota Sienna is still one of the best family vehicles in America. For 2021, the new Sienna is equipped with a multitude of technologies. All of this deserves recognition. Your local dealer can break them all down for you while you tour the area for ten minutes on a test drive. What you won’t need to focus on is the powertrain. And that’s because Toyota has made sure it has everything you need, and nothing you don’t.
Related story: It’s What’s Missing That Matters – Why Toyota Hybrids Are So Much More Reliable Than Other Brands
2021 Toyota Sienna – Lots of torque and power
For the new model year, Toyota is moving its new Sienna to a highly reliable powertrain that it successfully uses in other vehicles. The new fuel economy jumps to 36 MPG combined according to Toyota. This means that over the 20-year life of this vehicle, its fuel cost will be $14,000 less than the 2020 Sienna. That’s about a third of the cost of the vehicle. Our fully loaded AWD Limited tester had a list price of $49,675 including destination charges. The basic version starts around $36,000.
The new configuration uses electric motors to augment the gasoline engine. There’s no plugging in or other EV hassles. You just treat the van like any other and it uses considerably less fuel.
We test the Sienna this week and found the new drive system to be smoother and more satisfying than the outgoing model. The starting torque is generous. In normal driving, you’ll find the minivan pulls away from a stop better than the outgoing model. In parking lots and traffic, the gasoline engine is not needed at all. Electric motors do all the work.
On the road, the Sienna’s gas engine does the heavy lifting, but its electric motors come in handy when extra power is desired. Combined, the power is 245 hp. However, it feels like more due to the torque of the engines and Toyota’s unique gearless transmission.
Toyota’s modern design also eliminates many common maintenance items that vehicles needed. Like drive belt, timing belt, starter and alternator. They are all gone and you won’t miss them. You will certainly not fail to pay to maintain or repair them.
2021 Toyota Sienna – All-Wheel Drive
The Siena also offers all-wheel drive. Toyota is the only company to consistently offer all-wheel drive in this segment. New this year is Toyota’s dual-motor all-wheel-drive system. There is no driveshaft or transfer case. The engine is not mechanically connected to the front of the vehicle. This saves weight and complexity. We’ve driven Toyota AWD systems like this in the snow and on dirt roads and it works just fine. Luckily for us, it snowed during our week of testing the Sienna and we became one of the first outlets to test the Sienna in the snow. Check out our full Sienna winter driving report.
Related: Explaining Toyota’s Mysterious Electric All-Wheel Drive System
Toyota equips the Sienna with tires that have an aggressive tread pattern that we think would work well in snowy conditions. Ours had a Bridgestone model we looked for on Tire Rack. Its test results earned it an “Excellent” rating for snowy conditions. No need for winter tires.
2021 Toyota Sienna – New Features
We enjoyed Android Auto phone mirroring. We also noted that Toyota has added a keyed and hands-free side door feature. You simply wave your foot under the door and it opens. If you are holding a wriggling rat, this will be very useful to you. Toyota also has a new digital rear view mirror.
All the usual minivan touches are still there. Massive cargo space, generous room for seven or more passengers. Everything is here. What’s missing is the high fuel cost associated with most large vehicles.
John Goreham it’s been a long time New England Automotive Press Association member and recovery engineer. After his engineering degree, John also completed a marketing program at Northeastern University and worked with automotive component manufacturers. In addition to Torque News, John’s work has appeared in dozens of US newspapers and provides reviews for numerous vehicle buying sites. You can follow John on Twitterand check his credentials on LinkedIn
Jeep Wrangler image by John Goreham. Reuse with permission only. Graphic courtesy of iSeeCars.com.