The 2021 Toyota Sienna was destined to be.
It’s the first hybrid-powered minivan from the maker of the Prius and the tech is the perfect match for the brand’s ultimate people carrier, providing just enough power and great fuel economy for a family-friendly vehicle.
Aside from the CH-R subcompact, every four-door Toyota passenger car and crossover is now available with a hybrid powertrain.
The Sienna’s is shared with Toyota’s Highlander Hybrid and comprised of a 2.5-liter four-cylinder with two electric motors that put out a combined 245 horsepower in this guise. It’s the only one being offered in the Sienna from now on, but is available with a choice of all-wheel-drive or front-wheel-drive.
The EPA says they’ll get 35 and 36 mpg combined, respectively, which is a better than 70% increase over the old Sienna’s 296 horsepower V6, which was rated at 20 and 21 mpg. Those are pretty outstanding numbers. Even the plug-in hybrid Chrysler Pacifica is only good for 30 mpg after its 32 miles of all-electric range has been used up.
The new Sienna can also tow up to 3,500 pounds, but it’s the stuff it hauls around inside of it that’s most impressive.
Starting prices range from $35,635 to $51,653 and all models come standard with Toyota’s Safety Sense suite of electronic driver aids, including automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control, but the higher end versions add so much comfort and tech, you’ll think you’ve never left the house.
There’s a ceiling-mounted widescreen entertainment system with HDMI inputs for media players and consoles, a 12-speaker,;1,200-watt JBL auto system; reclining second-row captain’s chairs with leg rests; and a refrigerator/freezer built into the center console, which also houses a vacuum that has a hose long enough to reach the entire vehicle. I spent a cold winter’s night parked outside my son’s soccer practice in it fully reclined watching streaming video and wouldn’t have been happier at home. The battery pack even provided enough power that the engine didn’t need to run the entire time to keep me warm.
The Sienna is smooth and quiet on the move, with ride and handling characteristics that defy its size and station in life, but aren’t quite so sporty as its Supra-inspired flared-fender exterior design suggest, but about as good as you can expect from a mini mobile home. While you’re on the move, a rearview mirror with video feed helps you see past all the heads and stuff behind you, while a pretty low-resolution 360-degree camera system provides a bird’s-eye-view for parking.
The minivan landscape is pretty bare these days, with just the Honda Odyssey, Chrysler Pacifica/Voyager and Kia Sedona for the Sienna to compete with, but each has a very different character and the Toyota may be the most complete package of the bunch.
2021 Toyota Sienna
Base price: $35,635
As tested: $52,450
Type: 7-passenger, 4-door all-wheel-drive minivan
Powertrain: 2.5-liter four-cylinder with electric motors
Transmission: CVT automatic
Power: 245 hp
MPG: 35 city/36 hwy
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