How Does a $50,000 Toyota Sienna Compare To a Six-Figure Lexus Minivan?

With the 2021 Sienna Platinum’s $50k base price, Toyota’s range-topping minivan has an almost luxury-car-level price tag. However, ever since the LS400 debuted in the 90s, if US shoppers wanted a luxury Toyota product, the answer has been Lexus. Lexus, though, doesn’t have a minivan. At least, not in the US. Overseas shoppers can pick up the Lexus LM—if they’re willing to pay a six-figure price. But does that mean 2021 Toyota Sienna Platinum shoppers are missing out on something?

The two high-end hybrid minivans: 2021 Toyota Sienna Platinum vs. Lexus LM 300h

A brown 2021 Toyota Sienna Platinum
2021 Toyota Sienna Platinum | Toyota

The 2021 Toyota Sienna and Lexus LM are quite far apart in terms of price. The Sienna range starts with the $34,460 LE and ends with the $49,900 Platinum.

In contrast, in China, the base 7-seat Lexus LM 300h starts at roughly $176,350. The 4-seat model costs roughly $221,170. And no, that ‘4-seat’ appellation isn’t a typo. But more on that later.

Despite the price gap, the Toyota Sienna and Lexus LM have something in common besides their minivan designs: hybrid powertrains. For 2021, the Sienna lineup goes fully hybrid, with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and 2 electric motors, Autotrader reports. Combined, the system produces 245 hp, and is available with front-wheel and all-wheel drive, Roadshow reports.

A white 2021 Lexus LM
2021 Lexus LM | Lexus

The Lexus LM may eventually offer a 3.5-liter V6, which the previous-gen Sienna also offered, Motor1 reports. However, as of this writing, only the hybrid 300h trim is listed. Unlike the Toyota Sienna, the LM is only available with AWD. But it also uses a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with 2 electric motors. However, in the Lexus LM, the system makes just 161 hp.

Despite the lower power output, the Lexus LM 300h isn’t necessarily more fuel-efficient than the Toyota Sienna Platinum. The LM is rated at 33 mpg in China, while the EPA rates the AWD Sienna at 35 mpg city and 36 mpg highway, Motor1 reports. Though admittedly, the LM hasn’t been tested in the real world by publications. And in Car and Driver’s hands, the Sienna Platinum AWD saw 29 mpg in combined city-highway driving.

Still, fuel-efficiency isn’t likely a primary concern for those buying a $220k+ minivan. Luxuries and features, though, are.

What kind of luxury features does a $221,000 Lexus LM have compared to a $50,000 Toyota Sienna?

Both the Toyota Sienna Platinum and Lexus LM 300h have plenty of features to satisfy their passengers. But one goes a bit further in the pursuit of a luxurious experience.

After some initial supplier issues, the 2021 Sienna is now available with a built-in vacuum and refrigerator. The minivan’s power-sliding doors have foot-operation functions, and if you go for 2nd-row captain’s chairs, they get leg rests, Automobile reports. Plus, the Platinum trip has leather upholstery.

The 2021 Toyota Sienna Platinum's front seats and dashboard
2021 Toyota Sienna Platinum dashboard | Toyota

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The Sienna Platinum also has a 9” infotainment touchscreen, a 10” heads-up display, heated and ventilated front seats, heated 2nd-row seats, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. That’s on top of the full ADAS suite, wireless charging, navigation, multiple USB and USB-C outlets, 18 cupholders, sun shades, and a 360° overhead camera system. The few options include an AC inverter, a rear entertainment system, a spare tire, and integrating the rearview mirror with the backup camera.

The 4-seat white-leather interior of the 2021 Lexus LM with partition screen
2021 Lexus LM 4-seat interior | Lexus

The Lexus LM 300h, though, has all that and more. To start, as we alluded to previously, you can order with just 2 rear passenger seats. These seats are more like 1st-class plane seats than car seats, Car and Driver reports. They recline, they’re heated and ventilated, and they have massaging functions. Plus, instead of leather, they’re upholstered in quilted leather.

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Getting the Lexus LM with 4 seats also gives the minivan a partition screen with privacy glass and a 26” display, Autoblog reports. The console between the rear seats contains a touchscreen control panel, the fridge, and the umbrella storage area, The Drive reports. The 4-seater LM also has a 19-speaker audio system and double-layer noise-reducing glass.

Could a luxury minivan work in the US?

Saying which one of these two minivans you should buy is an exercise in futility. The Toyota Sienna is sold in the US, while the Lexus LM isn’t. But would the LM even sell reasonably well here?

An interior view of the driver and front passenger seats and dashboard of the 2021 Ram 1500 Limited Longhorn 10th Anniversary Edition.
The interior of the 2021 Ram 1500 Limited Longhorn 10th Anniversary Edition | FCA

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Minivans aren’t the only vehicles that have gotten more luxurious over the years. It’s already started happening to pickup trucks as they’ve become status symbols. And camper vans, though they’re not ‘mini,’ are also gaining higher-end features.

Plus, a luxury van could make some sense as a shuttle vehicle or even a subtle city commuter. It doesn’t stand out but offers higher-end materials, comfort, and connectivity.

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Still, if your goal is moving a lot of people comfortably, you’re not losing out by getting the 2021 Toyota Sienna Platinum. While the Lexus LM may have higher-end materials, the Sienna’s gadgets come at a significant discount in comparison.

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