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Toyota Isn’t Giving Up on the Minivan Just Yet

Toyota revealing new minivan

With people driving more and more SUVs and crossovers, the auto industry has seen a decline in minivans. Most automakers are shying away from releasing one. But leaked photos may prove the minivan isn’t dead yet. Taking advantage of the lack of competition, Toyota was recently spotted testing a prototype of its future 2021 Sienna. Here’s what we can expect.

A first look at the 2021 Toyota Sienna

The Toyota Sienna has a long-standing history, but it’s also had the same platform since 2010. A popular choice among American families, the Japanese automaker plans to dominate the minivan sector with a refreshed, fourth-generation Sienna.

Judging by the heavily-tarped prototype seen in leaked photos, the 2021 Toyota Sienna will have a new, redesigned platform. According to Motor1, the prototype was seen testing in Death Valley, California. Donning full camouflage, it was the world’s first look at the future Sienna.

There hasn’t been an official announcement regarding the 2021 Sienna. But we should expect the same seven-passenger, do-it-all vehicle as before. The prototype seen on the track suggests the new model will have the same swooping design you’d expect, but with a more updated, modern design similar to new Avalons and Camrys.

These photos also indicate the 2021 Sienna may utilize a new design that allows for a larger-than-ever interior. The platform looks longer and wider than even the current Sienna, which received a minor refresh in 2018. Photos also captured modernized headlights and taillights, larger wheels and tires, and a sleeker roof.

Many expect Toyota to reveal the 2021 Sienna mid-way through 2020 as a 2021 model. It will likely have an updated version of Toyota’s 3.5-liter V6 engine, with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The minivan will likely come with optional all-wheel drive, reports Car and Driver. Rumors indicate Toyota may make a hybrid Sienna as well.

Could Toyota save a dying breed?

The minivan used to be a staple of the industry. Almost every automaker offered one in their lineup. But minivans slowly disappeared from lineups over the years. “At least a dozen minivan models” left the market in the “last decade and a half,” according to USA Today.

A few automakers largely dominate the minivan market these days. The boom in sales of SUVs and crossovers, as well as the country’s declining birth rate, could add fuel to the fire.

In 2000, the minivan industry peaked, selling about 966,000 vehicles. Last year, only 364,000 minivans were purchased in the U.S., according to CarScoops. With only three automakers releasing minivans, however, the market is open for Toyota. Even the aging Sienna still sells in solid numbers. According to Web2Carz, there were roughly 53,000 Toyota Sienna sales in 2018 versus Honda Odyssey’s sales of about 61,000.

Minivan sales have certainly declined since 2000, but that doesn’t mean Toyota plans to drop the Sienna. With American families still needing the convenience of minivans, the 2021 Toyota Sienna is sure to top the list.