Car News

2021 Toyota Sienna Shakes Up Minivan Segment with Standard Hybrid Power and Available Fridge

The 2021 Toyota Sienna gets huge upgrades that help give it a leg up on its SUV competition. The all-new fourth-generation version of the minivan has debuted with standard hybrid power, along with available all-wheel drive, an onboard vacuum cleaner, and a refrigerator.

Other new available features include kick-activated power sliding doors and liftgate, four-zone climate control, heated second-row seats, a new Platinum luxury trim, a power and heated tilt and telescopic steering wheel, wireless phone charging, a digital rear-view mirror, 10-inch colour head-up display, standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, seven USB ports, 18 cupholders, a JBL sound system, and more. Another unique feature is the available captain’s chairs, which can slide 25 inches for maximum lounging and can be used with included footrests.

The new Sienna hybrid is estimated to get a combined 7.1 L/100 km fuel economy. It’s powered by the automaker’s proven 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine and two electric motors for a combined system output of 243 hp. The van gets four driving modes, Normal, Eco, Sport, and EV, which allows the Sienna to operate on battery power alone for short distances and at low speeds. Drivers will also have more control of the regenerative braking.

The AWD system in the Sienna is an electronic one, meaning there’s no transfer case diverting power to the rear axle. Instead, the rear axle is powered by an electric motor, which can send up to 80 per cent of the driving force rearward when launching from a stop or when slippage is detected. Otherwise, the Sienna operates as a front-wheel-drive vehicle under normal circumstances. AWD is available on all Sienna trims.

In terms of design, Toyota bravely used the words “bold” and “sexy” to describe the minivan in a press release, and while that may be a stretch, the van does have an all-new look that’s much more angular and aggressive than before. Toyota said the look was inspired by the famous Japanese bullet train to look “sleek, speedy and confident.” New LED lighting can be found front and back. The sporty XSE model also gets 20-inch wheels ­— on a minivan!

Inside, the Sienna gets loads of upscale-looking finishes and a new centre console that sits higher between the driver and front passenger. This created a larger space underneath that can be used to store larger items.

Every Sienna comes standard with Toyota’s full suite of driver assistance and safety technology including automatic emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, full-speed adaptive cruise control, active lane departure assist, automatic high beams, blind spot monitoring, and rear-cross traffic alert. The new Sienna also gets a rear seat reminder so nobody gets mistakenly left behind. A 360-degree top-down parking camera is also available.

The Sienna is now underpinned by Toyota’s successful TNGA-K platform, which should pay dividends in the driving department. Toyota acknowledged that people don’t want to feel like they’re “driving a bus,” and has made improvements to the van’s driving dynamics, sound insulation, and comfort. The minivan also gets brake vectoring, which will help it feel more agile and reduce understeer.

The minivan segment has become unexpectedly heated recently with the Chrysler Pacifica now available with AWD, though the plug-in hybrid version is exclusively front-wheel drive. For a while, the Sienna was the only minivan with available AWD, but now it becomes the only one in the segment with hybrid power and all-wheel drive. The Sienna has an available tow hitch and is rated to tow 3,500 lbs.

The 2021 Toyota Sienna is designed and built in the United States. The minivan is available in both seven and eight-seat configurations. Pricing and availability will be announced closer to the minivan’s on-sale date.