There comes a time in your life when minivans simply make sense. Normally, that is whenever you begin to be taught in regards to the nuances of automotive seats, strollers and the entire different gear youngsters require. Then come the soccer matches and cacouphonous carpools. I will not waste time arguing for the practicality of minivans, as a result of irrespective of the way you body it, they will at all times be higher for a typical household than an SUV or crossover. They’ve extra room for passengers and cargo alike, they usually’re simply simpler to entry when it is advisable safe a screaming toddler.
Gallery: Toyota Sienna 2021 | 22 Images
Gallery: Toyota Sienna 2021 | 22 Images
Regardless of how a lot sense they make, although, minivans nonetheless endure from being seen as boring autos for soccer mothers and dads who’ve simply given up. That is an thought Toyota is making an attempt to obliterate with its 2021 Sienna. Its sporty styling evokes Toyota’s extra adventurous SUVs, and it has the entire newest infotainment facilities to please each dad and mom and children. Most significantly, although, each 2021 Sienna is a hybrid providing a minimum of 35 MPG of mixed mileage (the entry-level LE trim is rated at 36 MPG). And with a beginning value of $34,460, it is round $4,000 lower than Toyota’s 2021 Hybrid Highlander, which presents the identical mileage however with extra restricted seating area.
By cramming a lot tech into the 2021 Sienna at a low value, Toyota is clearly gunning for Honda’s ever-popular Odyssey, and Chrysler’s Pacifica plug-in hybrid. The Pacifica presents as much as 32 miles of electric-only vary, making it best for households who needn’t journey far fairly often. But it surely additionally prices much more than the Sienna, beginning at $40,620 for the bottom mannequin. Moreover, Toyota managed to suit its AWD hybrid system into the Sienna, whereas the Pacifica and Odyssey solely presents front-wheel drive. (One other main knock in opposition to Honda: there’s nonetheless no hybrid Odyssey!)
Based mostly on its sheer type alone, the 2021 Sienna clearly has much more occurring than the Pacifica. (There is a purpose Toyota has jokingly labeled it a “swagger wagon.”) The sharp traces and enormous grille alongside its entrance offers off an aggressive vibe, as if it is extra desperate to hit the racetrack than putter over to a soccer match. And that type continues alongside the facet panels, making the Sienna appear to be it is rushing down the freeway even when it is standing nonetheless. Alongside the rear, it is distinctly truck-like, with a low loading flooring that makes it simple to raise up strollers and pets.
The inside is simply as spectacular, a minimum of within the Restricted mannequin (beginning at $50,085) that I examined for per week. A normal 9-inch touchscreen is the centerpiece of the infotainment system, and it comes outfitted with help for Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Amazon Alexa. The front-, second- and third-row seats are lined in an opulent leather-based trim. That final row of seats will be laid flat with the tug of a string. And, properly, there’s simply a lot extra room than my 2017 RAV4 Hybrid. I knew that getting into, in fact, but it surely’s one other factor to expertise the huge dimension distinction between a minivan and a crossover SUV in particular person.
Putting in my toddler’s automotive seat was a lot simpler with the Sienna, due to its automated sliding doorways. There’s extra room to maneuver — a should whenever you’re lifting a 30-pound gadget — and I appreciated truly with the ability to sit down within the different second-row chair to safe the seat belt. My daughter instantly took to the Sienna as properly. As quickly as I plopped her into the automotive seat, she regarded round wide-eyed and mentioned “Wow, I like this automotive!” (And this was after test-driving a Tesla Mannequin Y, which elicited a largely ho-hum response.)
It might simply be that the 2021 Sienna is on many dad and mom’ want lists proper now, however I used to be shocked simply how many individuals approached me to ask questions on it. 5 minutes into my first drive, our native Dunkin’ Donuts supervisor instantly acknowledged it and gave me his Indian Dad Seal of Approval. A number of dad and mom at native parks had been impressed that it did not appear to be a minivan in any respect (when you squint, it simply appears to be like like a barely longer Highlander).
Whereas I anticipated the Sienna to drive a bit like a ship, I used to be shocked to search out it was fairly clean and responsive. It is no sports activities automotive, but it surely dealt with Georgia’s twisty again roads even higher than my RAV4 (I will chalk that as much as the decrease middle of gravity). And regardless of dropping the V6 engine from earlier fashions, the Hybrid Sienna nonetheless has loads of kick to it. The two.5-liter four-cylinder engine and twin electrical motors provide a formidable 245hp mixed, so it by no means felt underpowered as I handed gradual vans on the freeway. We averaged round 33MPG all through the week, much more than I sometimes see on our considerably smaller RAV4. The hybrid drivetrain additionally offers the Sienna an additional enhance when shifting from a full cease, making it best for stop-and-go visitors.
I did not have any adventurous journeys deliberate for testing out the Sienna’s AWD, however I appreciated having further traction whereas driving via torrential summer season storms. That was notably useful once we had been driving down steep mountain-side highways amid the rain. A front-wheel drive automotive in all probability would have been wonderful, however as an anxious dad, I would at all times relatively have the peace of thoughts.