Driving the 2021 Toyota Sienna Shatters Common Minivan Stereotypes

We’ve all heard typical minivan stereotypes. For example, the minivan is slow, uncool, or for soccer moms. But the 2021 Toyota Sienna shatters these misconceptions. The minivan has evolved, and the Toyota Sienna is proof that it’s time to change your mind about them. 

2021 Toyota Sienna review: A van that’s too cool for school 

The 2021 Toyota Sienna in front of mountains
2021 Toyota Sienna | Allison Barfield

I’ve had the 2021 Toyota Sienna XLE for a week, and it’s been a blast. While some people called me a nerd and a soccer mom, others were super excited to see this van’s new redesign. I used it to challenge typical minivan stereotypes

The XLE is the third trim level out of five. XLE stands for Exclusive Luxury Edition and lives up to the name with comfort and convenience. I didn’t even think I was missing out on the two higher trim levels. But anyway, let’s get to those minivan myths. 

Minivans are slow and lumbering

The 2021 Toyota Sienna isn’t slow at all. It has a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that’s paired with two electric motors to generate 243 hp and 288 lb-ft of torque. It can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 7.7 seconds

This is plenty of speed for passing people on the highway and merging into traffic. If I needed power, it was there. The brakes are also smooth and confident, and the steering is responsive. The Sienna feels like a smaller, sporty vehicle. 

It has three driving modes, including Sport, Normal, and Eco. I spent most of the time in Sport mode, which upped the acceleration and steering response at the expense of the fuel economy. However, it did exhibit some body roll around tight curves. 

Parking the Toyota Sienna proved to be easy. It’s an agile vehicle that’s not complicated to maneuver in tight city areas. It didn’t feel too long, wide, or heavy for the mountain adventures I took it on. 

Minivans are just for carpooling 

A red 2021 Toyota Sienna parked in the wilderness on a cloudy day
2021 Toyota Sienna | Toyota

I don’t have any kids, but I still filled up the 2021 Toyota Sienna with tons of cargo and people. I took it to my adult kickball league, where my teammates and competitors were impressed by the amount of space and tech. It made sense for the Sienna to be a daily driver. 

But I also took it up a mountain to 5,500 feet in altitude to test the all-wheel drive system. While the ground clearance seemed to be a little lacking, I felt totally in control over dirt and gravel roads. 

The Sienna could quickly turn into a vehicle for camping or adventuring. It even has a 12-volt battery and 120-volt outlet in the rear to power devices. I used it to jump a Nissan Versa that had a dead battery on the trail. That’s right, a minivan came to the rescue. 

The Sienna gets an EPA-estimated 36 MPG, but I’ve been primarily driving uphill on steep inclines in sport mode, so I averaged 33 mpg. This is pretty darn fuel-efficient for trips and adventures. 

Minivans are lame and ugly 

2021 Toyota Sienna dashboard
2021 Toyota Sienna dashboard | Toyota

For some reason, people think that minivans are uncomfortable with beige fabrics and outdated tech. But the 2021 Toyota Sienna is loaded with modern amenities such as a wireless phone charging pad, HDTV with an HDMI port, several USB and USB-C ports, a digital gauge cluster, a multi-zone climate system, and rear windows that roll down. 

I decided to sit in the second row as a kid or passenger and plugged my Nintendo Switch into the TV. I used one of the two pairs of wireless headphones to play my Mario game and got totally into it. If I was being driven somewhere then the trip would have gone by super quickly.

The JBL audio system also sounds great for the driver and passengers. Also, the third row has headphone jacks, so passengers can listen in to what’s on the rearseat entertainment system. 

In my opinion, the Toyota Sienna looks pretty sleek. The black leather seats are attractive and comfortable. The center console has an attractive layout with soft-touch materials and wood grain. I only wish the tires looked a little beefier and may have picked a different rim style. 

However, the upcoming Toyota Sienna Woodland Edition will provide a more rugged look. Until then, forget old minivan stereotypes. The Toyota Sienna isn’t a slow mom-mobile at all. 

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