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With time comes change. That’s why it’s no surprise that minivans are evolving. Gone are the days of your parent’s ugly old people-movers. Some may be surprised to learn that vans have donned a whole new aesthetic. Enter the days of high-tech family cruisers. The 2021 Toyota Sienna and 2021 Honda Odyssey both received overhauls for the new model year. Both vehicles have had new life breathed into their listless sails. However, one underwent much more drastic changes than the other.

Toyota finally gave some love to the once-forgotten minivan by completely redesigning the Sienna. Meanwhile, Honda lightly refreshed the heralded Odyssey, but its basic platform remained the same. This begs the question, will these fresh changes revitalize an otherwise stale segment?

These updates could change the game, but does one minivan have a distinct advantage over the other? Let’s break down what the Sienna and Odyssey each have to offer.

The 2021 Toyota Sienna goes all-in on an eco-friendly powertrain

A red 2021 Toyota Sienna parked on display
The 2021 Toyota Sienna on display | Photo via Toyota

Forget everything you previously knew about Toyota’s minivan, as the latest model is a whole new breed. The Japanese automaker ditched the Sienna’s old engine and replaced it with a hybrid powertrain. That’s right; every Sienna is now a hybrid.

A 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and two electric motors powers this machine, combining for a total of 245 hp. All models come with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). However, buyers can opt for a front-wheel-drive system or an available all-wheel-drive system for extra traction.

Of course, a hybrid minivan commands a decent chunk of money, but it might not be as much as you’d think. The 2021 Toyota Sienna has a starting MSRP of $34,460, which isn’t too much more than the 2021 Honda Odyssey’s $31,790 starting price. That’s especially true when you consider the long-term fuel savings. The 2021 Sienna achieves an EPA-estimated 36 MPG city/highway combined, making road trips much more enticing. Meanwhile, the 2021 Odyssey only gets 22 MPG combined, according to EPA estimates.

The 2021 Honda Odyssey sticks to a tried-and-true formula

A silver 2021 Honda Odyssey driving down a city street
The 2021 Honda Odyssey in action | Photo via Honda

Honda is sticking with a traditional setup for its minivan. The 2021 Odyssey only offers a typical gas-powered engine, and unfortunately, it doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

However, it likely suits your family’s needs quite well. The Odyssey is incredibly safe, as it’s loaded with standard driver-assistance technologies. Its base trim doesn’t offer many infotainment technologies, as you’ll only get a five-inch touchscreen and Bluetooth capabilities. But if you’re willing to spend the money, this minivan can do incredible things.

Stepping up to the EX trim affords you an upgraded eight-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. The pricier Touring and Elite trims come with features you won’t find on the 2021 Toyota Sienna. The Touring adds CabinWatch, which allows you to keep an eye on the kids in the back via the infotainment display. Meanwhile, the top-of-the-line Elite model has a vacuum, allowing you to clean up any messes easily.

Will Toyota’s big gamble pay off?


Owners Say the Honda Odyssey Is a ‘Maintenance Nightmare’

While the 2021 Toyota Sienna’s upfront cost is relatively high, its long-term savings due to its efficient hybrid powertrain are quite appealing. Families looking to minimize their carbon footprint will likely gravitate toward the forward-thinking Sienna.

However, the 2021 Honda Odyssey is a little safer and more upscale than its rival. So, in many ways, it is still a segment leader. All-in-all, which minivan you prefer may be a matter of where your top priorities lie. But for our money, the 2021 Sienna hybrid minivan seems like a smarter choice, as automakers may phase gas-powered out over the coming years.