The minivan was the “it” vehicle only a few years ago. But it has recently begun a descent into extinction. Most are no longer sold as new models, while the remaining few are still going strong. And Consumer Reports continues to test them. However, only one 2021 model earned the consumer site’s recommendation. This year, it’s the Toyota Sienna. What do CR’s testers like and dislike about it?
Why does CR recommend the Toyota Sienna alone?
Consumer Reports gave the 2021 Toyota Sienna an overall 77 out of 100 points. The Chrysler Pacifica and Honda Odyssey both got a 68 and sit in the second and third spots on CR’s list of 2021 minivans.
Interestingly, though, the Odyssey and Pacifica earned higher road-test scores: 85 to the Sienna’s 80. Also, both boast better braking distances than the Toyota, by about 12 feet.
But the differences begin with predicted reliability scores and fuel economy. The Odyssey and Pacifica ended up with pretty low ratings. They received 2 two out of 5. The Pacifica has only a few years of research to draw from, but it appears it has had some engine issues. And the Honda minivan saw some major engine problems and transmission issues in a few of its models.
Fuel economy is vastly different among the three. The Chrysler and Honda vans only get about 13 to 14 mpg in the city and 33 on the highway. The Sienna, however, reportedly gets up to 28 mpg in the city and a whopping 43 on the highway. You’d have to upgrade to the Pacifica plug-in hybrid to get better fuel economy — “30 miles on electric power alone,” CR reports.
The pros of owning a Toyota Sienna
Besides great fuel economy, there are a few other advantages to owning a Toyota Sienna. The first point to consider is that it comes only as a hybrid model, which is why it gets great gas mileage and saves tons of money at the fuel pump.
It packs a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, an electric motor, and an electronic continuously variable transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard, but you can opt for an all-wheel drivetrain too.
The Sienna rides and handles well with a suspension system that can absorb most bumps and dips. Passengers can sit comfortably, even on long trips. And you can choose from a seven- or eight-passenger configuration.
One of the 2021 Toyota Sienna’s biggest negatives is its cargo area. Though the space behind the third row offers enough storage, the middle seats can’t be removed or folded into the floor to provide more space when you need it. You can, however, slide and fold them forward, but that will gain you only a few inches instead of a few feet.
Seating is wide and comfortable for passengers, but the third row doesn’t offer much room for adults. Children can sit back there fine, but a full-sized adult would feel cramped back there.
And though the infotainment system is easy to use and impressive with plenty of features, the major beef is that it’s too much of a reach to get to the touchscreen to find what you need. That could be a big hindrance to driving.
However, Toyota also goes out of its way to make you feel like you’re not driving a minivan but an SUV instead. With a brand-new interior, better infotainment system, and plenty of cabin storage, you might forget it’s a minivan.
Overall, the 2021 Toyota Sienna has its drawbacks, but it still offers plenty to love. In fact, Consumer Reports thinks it’s worthy of a recommendation over all other new minivans.