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

Sooke resident Nathan Hanson popped both his driver’s side tires on a pothole near a construction site on Sooke Road. Hanson said he was following a line of traffic and was just before the 17 Mile Pub when he drove over the pothole. (Photo contributed/Nathan Hanson)
Driver blows two tires on pothole near construction site on Sooke Road

Ministry of Transportation says keeping highways in good condition a priority

Environment Canada has issued a wind warning for Greater Victoria, with winds expected to get up to 70 km/h Friday morning. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Wind warning promises blustery Friday for Greater Victoria

Winds up to 70 km/h expected Friday morning

Passengers in rows 13 to 19 on Air Canada Jazz flight 8069 from Vancouver to Victoria Feb. 28 were exposed to a case of COVID-19. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
COVID-19 exposure found on flight from Vancouver to Victoria

Passengers in rows 13 to 19 on Air Canada Jazz flight 8069 Feb. 28 affected

Low interest rates have acted as a catalyst for the pandemic real estate market. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy)
Real estate sales surging across Greater Victoria but risks lie ahead

Single family home prices jump nine per cent over past year while condo values remain stable

Crews deal with a rock slide on the Malahat section of Highway 1 in 2017. (Black Press Media file photo)
Rock work closes Highway 1 in Langford for spurts

Friday closures could delay drivers up to 20 minutes

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of March 2

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: How’s your butter?

Recent reports have some Canadians giving a second look to one of… Continue reading

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Canada’s hockey dad had battled Parkinson’s disease and other health issues

The intersection of Melrose Street and Third Avenue. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Suspect in custody after two pedestrians struck in Port Alberni hit and run

RCMP asking for video footage, credit witnesses for quick arrest

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

Some Canadians are finding butter harder than usual, resulting in an avalanche of social media controversy around #buttergate. (Brett Williams/The Observer)
#Buttergate: Concerns around hard butter hit small B.C. towns and beyond

Canadians find their butter was getting harder, blame palm oil in part one of this series

Comox Valley RCMP had access to 20 Street blocked off between Cousins and Choquette avenues as they conducted a raid of a house on the block. Photo by Terry Farrell
Comox Valley RCMP raid Courtenay problem house, several arrests made

Comox Valley RCMP conducted a raid of a problem house on 20th… Continue reading

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Pandemic stress, isolation key factors as to why Canadians turned to cannabis, alcohol

Study found that isolation played key role in Canadians’ substance use

Most Read