Technology-laden, safe, comfortable, and great fuel economy
Roseville, Calif.- After seven consecutive years of brisk sales, interest in the Toyota Sienna has gradually declined the past three years, a fate that has befallen many in the once-popular minivan class.
Times are tough for all minivans. Even the top-rated Honda Odyssey had a down year in 2020 with sales of 83,409, its worse total since 1999. But the Sienna was even worse, dipping to an all-time low of 42,886 a year ago.
That no doubt played a role in Toyota making a radical departure when creating the redesigned 2021 Toyota Sienna. Say goodbye to its gas-powered model, the new Sienna is now offered in hybrid powertrain only. There is just one other hybrid minivan, the Chrysler Pacifica.
It wasn’t that long ago when minivans were the suburban vehicle of choice for several decades. But gradually large car-based SUVs nudged them perhaps into the slow lane of oblivion.
In fact, many auto manufacturers have stopped selling them. However, don’t bury the minivan just yet. For the automakers that still make them – Fiat Chrysler, Honda, Toyota, Kia – the minivan business is fine, just no longer great.
Mirroring its predecessor, the Sienna hybrid offers a spacious interior that can accommodate eight passengers. It’s very technology-laden, super safe, comfortable, has great fuel economy (36 mpg) for a large vehicle, and even has some punch when pushed.
The Sienna is equipped with two electric motors and a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder that combines for 245 horsepower and 176 pound-feet of torque. It travels 0-60 mph in a respectable 7.7 seconds, yet that’s nearly a second slower than the king of the minivans – the Odyssey. Sienna’s towing capacity is 3,500 pounds.
The stylish fourth-generation Sienna is offered in five trim levels (LE, XLE, XSE, Limited, Platinum) and all-wheel drive is an option.
The Sienna has solid driving dynamics, delivering responsive steering, stability around turns, and maneuvers well in tight parking areas.
Standard safety features include blind spot monitoring, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning and lane keep assist, rear cross traffic alert, forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, automatic high-beam headlights, and road sign recognition
AT A GLANCE – 2021 TOYOTA SIENNA HYBRID
- Performance: two electric motors, 2.5-liter, four-cylinder, 245 horsepower
- Mileage estimate: 36 mpg
- Price estimate: $34,500 – $50,500
- Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles; Drivetrain: 5 years/60,000 miles; Roadside assistance: 2 years/unlimited; Corrosion: 5 years/unlimited
Inside the minivan is a 9-inch touchscreen that’s fairly easy to master, thanks to a simple menu structure. There are conveniently located buttons and knobs for the audio and climate controls. The van features mostly high-end materials.
Up front, the seats are cushioned and supportive, and even taller folks will have good leg and head room. The second row comes with leg rests and the seat can slide back for additional space.
The Sienna cargo room is not as spacious as some competitors. It measures 33.5 cubic feet and opens up to 75.2 cubes when the third row is down. Note that the second row also folds down, yet not all the way, giving the Sienna 101 cubic feet of space.
The redesigned 2021 Toyota Sienna is now hybrid mode only, giving it a reason to stick out among its rivals. It has lots of upside, yet is unlikely to give the minivan the jolt in sales that it needs.