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

  • Jan. 14, 2021 2:30 p.m.

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

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

Just Posted

The application proposing to rezone Western Speedway was passed by Langford’s planning, zoning and affordable housing committee Feb 8. A petition has since been started by residents of Trudie Terrace, hoping to stop the proposed residential portion of the development plan. (CBRE Victoria)
Petition opposing Western Speedway development proposal gains steam

Save Thetis Heights Neighborhood petition aims to stop extension of Trudie Terrace

The City of Victoria filed a petition with the Supreme Court of B.C. March 2 to have it clarify whether, under the Trustee Act, Beacon Hill Park can be used for temporary sheltering. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria asks court to clarify if Beacon Hill Park can be used for sheltering

City of Victoria filed petition to Supreme Court of B.C. March 2

Activists from the Fairy Creek Blockades hold the injunction application notice which was submitted by logging company Teal Jones to the B.C. Supreme Court. The application, which asks to have blockaders removed from the sites that stop access to cut blocks, is set to be heard on March 4. (Photo contributed/Joshua Wright)
Activists hunker down to protect Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew from logging

Forest company Teal Cedar applies for injunction to remove seven-month-old blockades

Boma Brown won the Emerging Leader Award for her work founding the Support Network for Indigenous Women and Women of Colour. (Courtesy of Boma Brown)
Victoria SNIWWOC founder up for national women’s award for volunteer efforts

Victoria’s Boma Brown is a semi-finalist in the running for the L’Oreal Paris Women of Worth award

Older rental apartments are prime candidates for renovations, and could result in lost affordable housing stock. (Zoë Ducklow photo)
B.C.’s renoviction overhaul a good start, but won’t preserve affordable stock, lawyer says

And still no protection for people who can’t pay rent due to COVID-19

(Photo by Marissa Baecker/Shoot the Breeze)
B.C. WHL teams to hit the ice with Kelowna, Kamloops hub cities

Kelowna, Kamloops centres chosen to host B.C. WHL teams for 24-game regular season

.
LETTER: Anti-semitism definition lacking

Re: We must identify anti-Semitism and combat it (Online, Feb. 26) I… Continue reading

The victim of the homicide on Cowichan Lake Road early Monday morning was 17 years old, and was stabbed in the incident. (File photo)
Duncan homicide victim was 17 years old

RCMP report that teenager was stabbed

(File photo)
RCMP arrest man after report of gun-toting threat-maker near Parksville schools

43-year-old man taken into custody; students at nearby schools were asked to stay inside

The machines are akin to ATMs and allow drug users at risk of overdose to get hydromorphone pills dispensed to them after their palm has been scanned to identify its unique vein pattern. (CANADIAN PRESS)
Feds dole out $3.5M for ‘vending machines’ to dispense safer opioids in B.C.

The machines are located in four cities across Canada, including Vancouver and Victoria

Kelowna’s lakefront visitor centre is one of 130 around the province. Tourism businesses have been hardest hit by COVID-19 restrictions on travel. (Destination B.C.)
Tourism, small business getting COVID-19 help, B.C. minister says

$300M grant program has delivered $50 million so far

Most Read