If you squint a little, you can catch some styling cues from the Toyota Supra sports car. The standard hybrid system has two electric motors. Opt for all-wheel-drive and there’s a third. PHOTO: TOYOTA

2021 Toyota Sienna: Hybrid only? A bold (and fuel-efficient) move in the minivan class

This travel-wise family drive boasts a penchant for penny-pinching at the pumps

The once-popular (and well-populated) minivan segment has thinned out over the past few years. However those few remaining nameplates, including the Toyota Sienna, have not been ignored by their parent automakers and are as stylish, up-to-date and practical as anything on the road.

For 2021, the new fourth-generation Sienna receives a complete redo that encompasses every aspect of the minivan.

From the front, the appearance is similar to most other Toyota models, including a wide-mouth grille protruding ahead of the hood and headlights (apparently inspired by Japan’s extra-quick Bullet Train).

But a check of the remaining bodywork reveals an origami of creases and curves that stands in stark contrast to the previous Sienna. The final form might not to be to everyone’s taste, but there’s no denying that the minivan definitely stands apart from its peers.

If you squint a little, you can catch some styling cues from the Toyota Supra sports car. The standard hybrid system has two electric motors. Opt for all-wheel-drive and there’s a third. PHOTO: TOYOTA

The body panels are attached to Toyota’s latest lighter and stronger TNGA-K platform that’s employed in most of the automaker’s vehicles. As a result, the Sienna is now close to eight centimetres longer and slightly lower and wider. The distance between the front and rear wheels has also increased by about 2.5 centimetres.

The interior is new and appears more premium passenger car than minivan. A unique “flying bridge” centre console rises up and connects with the base of the dashboard and provides extra stowage space beneath the shift lever. This in addition to a traditional enclosed cubby between the front-seat armrests.

The Sienna has up to 18 cupholders although the two in the centre console might be the most important. The shift lever commands a continuously variable transmission. PHOTO: TOYOTA

A large, upright, nine-inch touch-screen dominates the dashboard, but does seem to partially block the driver’s line of sight.

The Sienna’s eight-passenger capacity is reduced to seven with the available second-row high-back bucket seats (with optional fold-out ottomans) that can be adjusted fore and aft by up to 63.5 centimetres.

Aside from the styling, the 2021 Sienna’s most dramatic aspect is a hybrid powertrain that’s standard for all models. It consists of a 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine plus two electric motors with a net output of 243 horsepower. That’s less than the previous minivan’s 296-horsepower V-6, but Toyota estimates the hybrid system will achieve 7.1 l/100 km in combined city/highway driving.

The number is better than the Chrysler Pacifica plug-in hybrid’s 8.0 l/100 km and considerably better than competing non-hybrid minivans.

The power system is connected to a continuously variable transmission that directs output to the front wheels, or to all four wheels in all-wheel-drive models. This option adds a third electric motor located at the rear wheels.

A standard mode selector that controls drivetrain performance can be set to Normal, Sport (for low-end torque), mileage-maximizing Eco, or EV. The latter provides a limited amount of electric-only driving at low speeds before the internal-combustion engine automatically kicks in.

The tow rating is pegged at 1,590 kilograms.

Base price (LE FWD) is $41,830 including the $1,840 destination charge. The word “base” is a misnomer since the standard equipment list includes a complete range of active-safety technologies such as emergency braking, lane-departure alert with steering assist, and pedestrian detection. A blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert and a rear-seat reminder are also standard.

All-wheel-drive adds $2,000 for a starting price of $43,830 (LE AWD), including destination.

The wide centre console has plenty of storage but it also indicates just how much shoulder room the Sienna has. The dash is dominated by a nine-inch screen perched above the air vents. PHOTO: TOYOTA

Among the myriad equipment offered on up-level trims is four-zone air conditioning, premium 1,200-watt JBL-brand audio system with navigation, a camera-based digital rearview mirror, a vacuum and a built-in refrigerator.

Parents of small children or those wishing to communicate with back-seat passengers will be interested in the available Driver Easy Speak, which is basically a public-address system that works through the Sienna’s rear speakers.

From the extensive content list — the Limited trim level is $60,030 — it seems Toyota has reconfigured the Sienna to anticipate nearly every contingency. Dial in the standard hybrid system and you wind up with a travel-wise family bus with a penchant for penny-pinching at the pumps.

The optional second-row bucket seats recline and also have footrests. 
PHOTO: TOYOTA

What you should know: 2021 Toyota Sienna

Type: Front- /all-wheel-drive minivan

Engine (h.p.): 2.5-litre DOHC I-4 plus two or three electric motors (243)

Transmission: Continuously variable

Market position: There are now only a few automakers with minivans in their lineups and standing out requires some radical thinking. In the Sienna’s case — styling aside — that means dropping the V-6 for standard hybrid power.

Points: Completely new from the ground up. • Exterior follows Toyota’s current design language, but with a few wrinkles added. • Interior adopts a somewhat sporty appearance in front; loads of people/cargo space in back. • Hybrid powertrain promises excellent fuel economy. • Lengthy assortment of active-safety tech comes standard.

Driver assist: Blind-spot warning with cross-traffic backup alert (std.); active cruise control (std.); emergency braking (std.); lane-departure warning/assist (std.); pedestrian detection (std.)

L/100 km (city/hwy combined): 7.1

Base price (incl. destination): $41,830

BY COMPARISON

Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

  • Base price: $47,600
  • Updated 2021 plug-in model has a 48-kilometre range on electric-only power.

Honda Odyssey

  • Base price: $44,600
  • A mild exterior refresh and revised comfort and safety are changes for 2021.

Kia Sedona

  • Base price: $33,900
  • The automaker’s minivan will receive updated looks and more power for 2022.

– written by Malcom Gunn, Managing Partner at Wheelbase Media

If you’re interested in new or used vehicles, be sure to visit TodaysDrive.com to find your dream car today! Like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram

AutomotiveAutoscarsTrucks

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Those who want to view the Strathcona Regional District’s public meetings will have to do so after the fact by going to their Youtube Channel. Photo courtesy Youtube.
No live public option for SRD meetings again

Public Health Order says governments must make ‘best efforts’ to give public a live option

People skate on a lake in a city park in Montreal, Sunday, January 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
The end of hugs: How COVID-19 has changed daily life a year after Canada’s 1st case

Today marks the one year anniversary of COVID-19 landing in Canada

The students in the Timberline Musical Theatre program rehearse this year’s production, Once Upon a Mattress, three days per week after school in preparation for next month’s virtual performances. Photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror
Timberline’s popular musical goes online for 2021

Once Upon a Mattress will be streamed right to your living room thanks to school’s AV department

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Employers might be able to require COVID-19 vaccination from employees: B.C. lawyer

‘An employer must make the case’ using expert science, explains lawyer David Mardiros

An Atlantic salmon is seen during a Department of Fisheries and Oceans fish health audit at the Okisollo fish farm near Campbell River, B.C. in 2018. The First Nations Leadership Council says an attempt by industry to overturn the phasing out of salmon farms in the Discovery Islands in contrary to their inherent Title and Rights. (THE CANADIAN PRESS /Jonathan Hayward photo)
First Nations Leadership Council denounces attempt to overturn salmon farm ban

B.C.’s producers filed for a judicial review of the Discovery Islands decision Jan. 18

Crews with Discovery Channel film as an Aggressive Towing driver moves a Grumman S2F Tracker aircraft around a 90-degree turn from its compound and onto the road on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. It was the “most difficult” part of the move for the airplane, one organizer said. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Vintage military plane gets towed from Chilliwack to Greater Victoria

Grumman CP-121 Tracker’s eventual home the British Columbia Aviation Museum on Vancouver Island

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Residents of the Cowichan Valley decorated more than 55 vehicles with anti-racist slogans for a car rally in support of Cowichan Tribes on Saturday, January 24. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Dozens join anti-racism car rally and virtual panel in Cowichan Valley

Provincial ministry and BC Green caucus issue joint statement detailing concerns

Jesse Savidant, 31, is wanted by the RCMP after failing to appear in provincial court in Nanaimo in December. Police warn Savidant should be considered violent. (Photo Submitted)
Warrant out for man accused of stolen property offences across Vancouver Island

Jesse Savidant did not appear for court date in Nanaimo last month, say RCMP

Rolling seven-day average of cases by B.C. health authority to Jan. 21. Fraser Health in purple, Vancouver Coastal red, Interior Health orange, Northern Health green and Vancouver Island blue. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
2nd COVID vaccine doses on hold as B.C. delivery delayed again

New COVID-19 cases slowing in Fraser Health region

The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is urging visitors to stay on designated trails after a hiker became injured in an unsanctioned area last week. (Westerly file photo)
Injured hiker rescued in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

“Safety is everyone’s responsibility.”

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. Two more cases of the COVID-19 strain first identified in South Africa have been diagnosed in British Columbia, bringing the total to three as of Jan. 16.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. now has three cases of South African COVID-19 variant, six of U.K. strain

Both variants are thought to spread faster than earlier strains

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Great Canadian Gaming CEO resigns after being accused of sneaking into Yukon for vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

Police discovered a makeshift nightclub in a Vancouver apartment on Jan. 23, 2021, and say it wasn’t the first time this month officers have been called to the unit over social gathering concerns. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Doorman of makeshift ‘booze-can’ in Vancouver apartment fined; police look to court order

This marks the fourth complaint about social gatherings inside the apartment in January

Most Read