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

Willow, a kitten belonging to a Victoria family, was rescued by firefighters on Thursday after she got stuck in a basement drain pipe. (City of Victoria/Twitter)
Victoria kitten stuck in basement drain pipe rescued by firefighters

Willow the cat on the mend, owner feeling ‘enormous gratitude’

(Black Press Media file photo)
Blue-green algae bloom confirmed in Elk Lake, water-based activities not recommended

Blue-green algae can be lethal to dogs, cause health issues for humans

Victoria police arrested a man Jan. 15 after he rammed his minivan into an occupied police vehicle. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria man arrested for ramming minivan into occupied police vehicle

Man caught after fleeing, crashing into cement retaining wall

Mayor Rob Martin and Costa Canna president Phil Floucault cut the ribbon on Colwood’s first cannabis retail store. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
Cowichan Tribes’ Costa Canna cannabis store opens in Colwood

Cowichan Tribes has one-year deal to grow, sell cannabis

Cindy Foggit plays the lead role of Eliza in Passion and Performance’s film production Eliza: An Adaption of a Christmas Carol. (Courtesy of Rachel Paish)
Victoria adult dance studio releases modern adaption of A Christmas Carol

Instead of usual stage performance, dance studio turns to film

Keith the curious kitten is seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 17 to 23

Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, Pie Day and International Sweatpants Day are all coming up this week

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Terry David Mulligan. (Submitted photo)
Podcast: Interview with longtime actor/broadcaster and B.C. resident Terry David Mulligan

Podcast: Talk includes TDM’s RCMP career, radio, TV, wine, Janis Joplin and much more

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virtually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Lilly and Poppy, two cats owned by Kalmar Cat Hotel ownder Donna Goodenough, both have cerebellAr hypoplasia, a genetic neurological condition that affects their ability to control their muscles and bones. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror
VIDEO: Wobbly Cats a riot of flailing legs and paws but bundles of love and joy to their owner

Woman urges others to not fear adopting cats with disabilities

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s top doctor says to avoid non-essential travel as B.C. explores legal options

Premier John Horgan says he is seeking legal advice on whether it can limit interprovincial travel

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd during the march on Washington, D.C., in August of 1963. Courtesy photo
Government reinforces importance of anti-racism act on Black Shirt Day

B.C. Ministers say education “a powerful tool” in the fight for equity and equality

Most Read