Chrysler released the very first minivan in 1983. The minivan quickly became a popular family vehicle, although it began to develop a reputation as the ride for “soccer moms.” By the ’90s, buyers began jumping ship and purchasing SUVs rather than minivans. Many minivan models have been discontinued, but the Toyota Sienna remains. The newly redesigned Sienna for the 2021 model year works hard to overcome the minivan’s embarrassing reputation.
The 2021 Toyota Sienna
Toyota has released the 2021 Toyota Sienna, the first model year of the new fourth generation. CarGurus gives the car 8.3 out of 10, with 9.0 out of 10 for look and feel, form and function, and technology. The Sienna comes standard with a hybrid powertrain, including a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and two electric motors. Combined, they generate 243 hp.
The powertrain is paired with a continuously variable automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard on the Sienna, although all-wheel drive is available on all trims. Handling is improved for this new generation, but it is still a minivan and a hybrid. It does have enough power to tow up to 3,500 pounds.
The exterior and interior of the 2021 Toyota Sienna
The redesign works hard to give the 2021 Sienna’s exterior a more SUV-like appearance. It has a wide grille and LED headlamps, and its front pulls inspiration from Japan’s bullet train. Its design gives it a more assertive look from the side, and the sliding doors have been given a sculpted body line, a change from the usual flat doors.
The Sienna has a large rear window but does look relatively wide and low. CarGurus points out that the emphasis on horizontal lines points the new Sienna more in the SUV direction and less in a school bus direction. The exterior has excellent quality as to be expected from a Toyota vehicle.
In the interior, there is a nice seat position in between a low sedan position and a high SUV position. The Sienna’s dashboard sticks with clean lines, keeping most of the controls near the infotainment screen in the center. The center console provides two sets of cup holders, one open and one with a lid, plus it has a large storage bin below the center armrest. There is a large tray space in the area where the console joins the dash. The materials used throughout the interior are high quality and include leather wrapping on the steering wheel.
All three rows are large enough to comfortably seat adults. There is space for either seven or eight people depending on whether the second row has two captain’s chairs or a bench seat. The second row is able to slide up to 25 inches to help maximize space as needed. There is storage space for all three rows. In addition, there are bottle holders in all four doors, and 16 cupholders throughout (or 15 with the spare tire option selected).
The Toyota Sienna provides plenty of space to transport all those family belongings. There are 33.5 cubic feet behind the third row, 75.2 cubic feet behind the second row, or 101.0 cubic feet behind the first row. Since the second row slides, the space is also adjustable. The hybrid battery is located under the first row, so it doesn’t impact the cargo space. Opening and closing the rear tailgate as well as both sliding doors is easy. They are power-operated and open and close with a kicking motion.
The technology and safety
The 2021 Toyota Sienna has plenty of standard technology and safety features included. All trims have a 9-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa compatibility. It comes with a three-month trial to SiriusXM, a one-year trial of Safety Connect and Remote Connect on higher trims, a 10-year trial of Service Connect, plus a three-month trial of AT&T Wi-Fi Connect.
Audio systems improve through the trim levels. The top two trims have 12 speakers, Dynamic Navigation, plus surround sound. Higher trims also have a rear-seat entertainment system that provides a fold-down, ceiling-mounted 11.6-inch display along with a remote and two wireless headphones. The top trim has a 10-inch color head-up display, while the top two trims have available a digital rearview mirror. Remote keyless entry is standard with push-button start. The Smart Key System is available on higher trim levels.
The Sienna comes standard with Toyota Safety Sense 2.0, providing dynamic radar cruise control, lane-tracing assist, pre-collision system with pedestrian and bicyclist detection, lane-departure alert, automatic high beams, and road sign assist. Another standard safety feature is the rear-seat reminder, which is great for people with small kids.
The 2021 Toyota Sienna comes in five trim levels, with starting prices ranging from $34,460 to $49,900. Its only direct competitor is the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid. The newly redesigned Sienna does a great job providing convenience features for families and driving away any lingering embarrassment drivers may have about buying a minivan.