The Minivan Mold Has Definitely Been Broken
Story By: Staff of UTV Sports Magazine
Photos Provided by: Toyota Motor Sales, USA
Aiming to redefine the segment, the fourth-generation Toyota Sienna reimagines the minivan to support a wider array of life stages and activities. With a standard hybrid powertrain now across all trims and an array of new tech and amenities, the 2021 Toyota Sienna raises the bar for style, safety, comfort, versatility, and fuel efficiency.
Designed, engineered and assembled in the U.S., the all-hybrid 2021 Sienna, influenced by the bold and robust character of SUVs, hosts many premium features: kick-open and closed sliding side doors and rear gate, four-zone climate control system, heated second-row super-long slide captain’s chairs with ottomans, onboard vacuum and refrigerator, a segment-first power tilt and telescoping steering column with heated steering wheel, a digital rear-view mirror, 10-in. color head-up display and 12-speaker JBL® Premium Audio system.
The 2021 Toyota Sienna is also ready for life’s outdoor adventures with its all-wheel-drive option – and is well-positioned for Yakima® accessories, such as a rooftop carrier, crossbars, bike rack and more. The Sienna will offer an available tow hitch and factory optional 1,500-watt inverter with 120V AC outlet to power camping equipment. What’s more, all versions of the 2021 Sienna are rated to tow up to 3,500 pounds. That’s enough to pull a well-equipped compact travel trailer, or simply tow a single UTV for that weekend getaway.
The all new Sienna was designed to deliver a combination of room, comfort, convenience, fuel efficiency, and versatility that other types of vehicles can’t match. Starting with an all-new minivan structure based on the TNGA-K Platform, the goal was to optimize everything that is great about minivan function, while wrapping it all into a bold, sexy, and provocative design, expanding the definition of what a next-generation minivan should be.
Bold Design Meets Spacious Interior
Learning from today’s minivan customers that they do not want to feel like they are driving a bus, the design team took this to heart and thought carefully about how to combine the practical attributes of a minivan with the emotional desire for having a more personalized driving experience.
The key terms used to redefine the minivan experience were Confidence, Refinement, and Smart innovation. With this in mind, a modern instrument panel was created of bold, horizontal layers to express a wide and spacious interior, with a large center touch display, handy storage capability, and the innovative Bridge Console, which is the key to allocating personalized space to the driver and front passenger.
The Sienna LE and some XLE models come equipped in eight-seat configurations with two captain chairs, a long slide second-row seat, and a stowable middle seat. Some XLE models, as well as the XSE, Limited, and Platinum are seven-seat models featuring the Super Long Slide second-row captain’s chairs with the Limited and Platinum FWD models equipped with ottomans.
In addition to exemplary collision protection provided by the TNGA-K Platform, the 2021 Sienna comes standard with second-generation Toyota Safety Sense (TSS 2.0), a comprehensive active safety system that includes:
- Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection/Lowlight Detection
- Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control
- Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist
- Lane Trace Assist
- Automatic High Beams
- Road Sign Assist
A Quiet Place to Make Some Noise
The high-strength TNGA-K Platform resists noise intrusion and curbs vibration through the steering, floor and vehicle structure. Extensive, strategically placed noise insulation and body sealant further keep outside noises where they belong – outside.
Of course, with all the onboard connectivity Sienna offers (seven USB ports, available WiFi, optional JBL 1,200-watt amp/12-speaker Premium Audio, and 1080p HD rear entertainment system), conversation is just one of the things made better by the quieter cabin.
Seeing the Invisible
The Sienna has always offered a high, broad view of the road that instills a feeling of confidence behind the wheel. The high seating position and big windows make the Sienna an excellent sightseeing machine, while privacy glass behind the front row means passengers are not riding in a fishbowl.
Hybrid Done Right
The 2021 Sienna driver might not even notice the new model’s most significant engineering advance: the hybrid powertrain. That’s the point. The Toyota Hybrid System II delivers 243 total horsepower and a manufacturer-estimated 33 combined MPG fuel economy, the latter setting a benchmark for the segment, all while operating seamlessly and transparently.
The Sienna, though, does offer some performance-control surprises. Selectable EV, NORMAL, ECO, and SPORT driving modes let the driver tailor the van’s driving personality. NORMAL mode is ideal for everyday driving; SPORT mode unlocks boost from the hybrid system for improved acceleration response; ECO mode extracts maximum mileage from the fuel and battery, and EV mode allows electric-only driving at low speeds for short distances.
The Hybrid That Thinks About Fuel Economy
A 7-inch color Multi-information Display within the instrument panel includes a Hybrid System Indicator to show system output and regeneration status and encourage eco-driving habits. As on other Toyota hybrid models, the display suggests the optimal acceleration amount for eco-driving and provides a game-like scoring function for the driver.
Using navigation system operation (when equipped), Predictive Efficient Drive (PED) analyzes driving habits and memorized road and traffic conditions to optimize hybrid battery charging. When the driver activates PED, the system learns repeating routes and can predict when and where the vehicle is likely to slow down or stop. Then, through optimum accelerator pedal release timing guidance, the feature can reduce energy consumption, especially when driving through hilly areas or in traffic congestion. All the owner has to do is drive. Sienna will optimize fuel economy on its own.
Electronic On-demand All Wheel Drive
The 2021 Sienna is the only vehicle in its segment that combines a hybrid powertrain with AWD and uses a new kind of AWD called Electronic on-demand AWD. Instead of a heavy AWD transfer case and space-robbing driveshaft to the rear wheels, this AWD system uses a separate independent electric motor to power the rear wheels the instant additional traction is needed and at all vehicle speeds.
Like the hybrid system, the Hybrid AWD system works seamlessly and transparently. During off-the-line starts, Hybrid AWD pre-emptively sends up to 80 percent of driving force to the rear wheels to help prevent front-wheel slip. The Hybrid AWD system also enhances cornering agility by helping to reduce understeer, giving the Sienna a more confident handling feel.
Torque distribution then varies with conditions, from 100:0 in constant-speed driving to 20:80 on slippery surfaces. Torque distribution is indicated on the Multi-information Display.
Sienna Feature Highlights
In the Toyota tradition, the 2021 Toyota Sienna comes well equipped in the LE grade and adds more amenities and tech in the higher grades. Options are conveniently grouped in the LE Plus, XLE Plus, and XSE Plus packages.
The Limited and Platinum grades have no packages but do offer two factory options: Digital Rearview Mirror and 1080p HD Entertainment Center with 11.6-in. display, HDMI input, remote control and two wireless headphones (also optional on XLE and XSE). A 1,500-watt inverter is also available for XLE grade and above.
The sporty XSE and lavish Platinum grades fill their wheel wells with standard 20-inch aluminum-clad wheels with P235/50R20 tires for FWD – the first-ever 20-inch wheels on a Sienna. While the Limited FWD grade comes standard with 18-inch wheels.