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The Toyota Sienna has been completely redesigned for the 2021 model year. It rides on an all-new platform, and every trim will come with a hybrid powertrain, with all-wheel drive available.
That the Sienna will come only as a hybrid fits in with Toyota’s stated goal that it wants hybrid models to make up 25 percent of its sales volume by 2025. Unlike the rival Chrysler Pacifica plug-in hybrid minivan, the Sienna hybrid won’t need to be plugged in to make use of its electric power.
Toyota says today’s minivan customers “do not want to feel like they are driving a bus,” so one of the goals with the new Sienna was to make it look and feel more like an SUV. Numerous new convenience features, some standard and some optional, have also been added to increase the Sienna’s versatility and appeal.
Here is what we know so far.
The first thing people will notice about the new Sienna is its aggressive styling, an attempt by Toyota to give it more of an SUV look. But the most significant aspect of Toyota’s reworked minivan, which is built in Indiana, is that all trims will be powered by a four-cylinder hybrid powertrain. Toyota estimates this will be good for a 33 mpg combined Environmental Protection Agency rating; we achieved 21 mpg overall with the last V6-powered Sienna we tested.
We’re happy to see that all-wheel drive will be optional on all trims, and that a multitude of important advanced safety features will come standard. Toyota didn’t skimp on the available creature comforts, either, such as hands-free-opening sliding side doors, seven USB ports, second-row sunshades, and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility.
Toyota dramatically reshaped the Sienna’s styling with this fourth-generation model. The large grille of the previous model remains, but the headlight arrangement is much slimmer, the body is more sculpted and curvaceous, and has extroverted rear fender flares.
The modern-looking cabin is dominated by two new features: A 9-inch infotainment touch screen mounted high on the dashboard and what Toyota calls a Bridge Console that allocates “personalized space to the driver and front passenger.” It’s basically a lifted center console, which not only puts small items within close reach to the driver and front passenger but also allows for extra storage space in the large open area beneath it, such as for a purse or a small bag.
The Sienna comes with an eight-way adjustable driver’s seat on the base LE; the seat is power-operated, with adjustable lumbar support, on the XLE. The LE and XLE trims come with an eight-seat configuration, while the XSE, Limited, and Platinum trims are seven-seaters and feature Super Long Slide second-row captain’s chairs (with the ability to slide fore and aft 25 inches), and some versions can be equipped with ottomans for the maximum in kick-back comfort.
XLE trims and above come with a kick-type, hands-free power-opening door system not only for the rear liftgate but also for the dual sliding side doors. Other family-friendly features include the standard seven USB ports and up to 18 cup holders. An onboard vacuum cleaner comes standard on the Limited trim, while the vacuum and a refrigerator come standard on the Platinum model. Amazon Alexa, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay compatibility come standard across the Sienna line.
An available 1,500-watt inverter, with a 120-volt outlet, can power camping equipment.
What Drives It
The new Sienna will come only as a hybrid. It combines a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with two electric motors for a combined system output of 243 hp. Front-wheel drive comes standard, with all-wheel drive available on all trims.
Toyota estimates the Sienna will achieve 33 mpg combined, a heady number for a minivan. For reference, the last V6-powered Sienna we tested managed 21 mpg overall. The Sienna’s number would beat the Chrysler Pacifica plug-in hybrid minivan, which, when operating in regular hybrid mode, achieved 27 mpg in our testing.
Drivers can select different modes depending on the situation: Normal; Sport, which gives maximum acceleration from the hybrid system; Eco, which extracts maximum mileage from both the fuel and battery; and EV, which allows for electric-only driving at low speeds for short distances.
The Sienna’s optional all-wheel-drive system uses an additional electric motor to send power to the rear wheels when needed, rather than using a heavier driveshaft of a mechanical system. Torque distribution varies depending on driving conditions; for instance, the system sends up to 80 percent of the power to the rear wheels when taking off from a stop to help prevent front tire spin.
All versions of the Sienna are rated to tow up to 3,500 pounds, which matches the previous, more powerful Sienna’s towing ability.
Safety and Driver Assistance Systems
The Sienna comes standard with Toyota’s Safety Sense 2.0 suite of advanced safety and driver assistance features. This bundle includes forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection (including the ability to detect a bicyclist, and a pedestrian in low-light situations), blind spot warning, rear cross traffic warning, lane departure warning, lane keeping assistance, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, and road sign recognition. XLE, XSE, Limited, and Platinum trims add standard front and rear parking sensors.
New to the Sienna is a rear-seat reminder system, designed to remind the driver about potential occupants in the rear seats. The system is based on door sequencing logic and gives the driver a warning within the instrument cluster to check the rear seats when exiting the vehicle.
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