Buy a 2021 Toyota Sienna If You Don’t Want the Fuel Gauge to Move

The Toyota Sienna was completely redesigned for the 2021 model year. Aside from a giving it bolder look on the outside, a more luxurious aesthetic on the inside, and a new set of features, Toyota also gave every new Sienna a hybrid powertrain. I found this new engine to be so efficient that even after driving the 2021 Sienna for a week, I barely saw the needle on the fuel gauge move.

The 2021 Toyota Sienna foiled my usual plans

Typically, whenever I drive a hybrid model of any sort, I’ll put it through its usual paces to see what kind of gas mileage it can get. When I drove the Toyota Prius for a week, I pinned the throttle every chance I got and left it in sport mode in order to see if I could get the worst gas mileage possible. I even did the same when I drove the 2021 Venza for a week, although, the cold weather assisted me in getting below the average EPA fuel economy ratings.

However, when it came to the all-new Sienna, my plans for getting the worst mileage out of it were foiled. I pegged the throttle as much as I could, left it in sport mode, and even made sure to go some long drives when possible, but alas, the needle stayed at the full level for most of the week. It was super impressive, especially considering I was averaging 33 mpg the whole time.

2021 Toyota Sienna front shot in green
2021 Toyota Sienna | Joe Santos/MotorBiscuit

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What kind of fuel economy does the 2021 Toyota Sienna get?

According to fueleconomy.gov, the 2021 Toyota Sienna is able to achieve up to 35 mpg in the city, 36 mpg on the highway, and an average of 35 mpg in combined driving. Looking at those stats, it’s no wonder that I was able to achieve such high figures in my quasi real-world testing.

In case you’re wondering, the outgoing 2020 model outfitted with the V6 engine and an all-wheel drivetrain was able to achieve an EPA-estimated 18 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway. That means this new iteration is able to achieve about double the city fuel economy, so I can clearly see why Toyota decided to outfit every Sienna with the hybrid powertrain.

a picture of the 2021 Toyota Sienna Fuel Economy Readout. The fuel gauge is still full
2021 Toyota Sienna Fuel Economy Readout | Joe Santos/MotorBiscuit

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What kind of hybrid setup does the 2021 Sienna have?

Under the hood of the 2021 Sienna is a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine that’s mated to a pair of electric motors – one in between the front axles and one in the rear – to produce a combined total of 245 hp. The power is routed through an electronic continuously variable transmission (eCVT) that finds the sweet spot in the powerband under any driving situation in order to optimize the power delivery and fuel economy.

Many times, a CVT can prove to be annoying under hard acceleration due to its “rubber band-like” operation, but in the Sienna, I didn’t notice any kind of annoyance while driving. In fact, I found that the powertrain was smooth under light acceleration when the van was driven solely on the electric motor, but a little louder when the gas engine kicked in for more power.

The switch between the electric motor and gas engine is smooth, but you can definitely hear when the gas engine comes online. It sounds like what I would call “a sedated yeti growl,” but it gets the job done nonetheless.

2021 Toyota Sienna Interior
2021 Toyota Sienna Interior | Joe Santos/MotorBiscuit

Maybe the fuel gauge was broken?

After a week of driving the 2021 Toyota Sienna, I was almost convinced that the fuel gauge was broken. It is possible that I just needed to drive it more and I have no doubts that a long road trip would make the needle move. But at least we know that when it comes to running everyday errands and making the trip to work and back, the Sienna will stay full for a while. Much like a sedated yeti.