2021 Toyota Sienna Hybrid XLE AWD

2021 Toyota Sienna Hybrid XLE AWD

A minivan that gets 35 mpg? Yep, the Toyota Sienna gets redesigned for 2021 and is now only available with a hybrid powertrain. It also has aggressive new exterior styling that gives it a bold look. The Sienna is comfortable, easy to drive, and comes with a slew of standard features and tech, but has a higher sticker price than the outgoing model.

Base Price: $41,750
As Tested: $48,087
Horsepower: 245
Mileage: 35 mpg city/36 mpg highway/35 mpg combined

Toyota says the all-new Sienna has been influenced by features found on SUVs including optional all-wheel-drive, rooftop carrier, cross bars, and bike rack, but also has those family-friendly amenities such as sliding side doors, seven USB ports, up to 18 (!) cup holders, and many standard safety features. So this minivan is at home shuttling kids around town and embarking on outdoor camping adventures.

The 2021 Toyota Sienna comes in five trims: LE, XLE, XSE, Limited, and Platinum. Starting prices range from $34,460, which is about $3,000 more than the 2020 model, to $50,460, which is about $1,000 more than 2020. Front-wheel-drive is standard and all-wheel-drive is available on all trims. AWD adds a third electric motor in back to drive the rear wheels.

The LE and some XLE models can seat eight passengers with two captain’s chairs, a stowable middle seat and long slide second row seat. Some XLE models, as well as the XSE, Limited and Platinum can seat seven passengers. They have the Super Long Slide second-row captain’s chairs, which can slide back and forth 25 inches, and the Limited and Platinum FWD models have ottomans.

All trims get the same hybrid powertrain: a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and two electric motors with a total output of 245 horsepower and 175 pound-feet of torque. A continuously variable transmission is standard.

The Sienna is well suited to driving around town. It accelerates briskly from a stop and has enough get up and go for city driving. Steering is responsive and the Sienna feels planted around corners. You may wish for more power on the freeway, however. The engine can groan when pressed so you’ll want to plan your merging and passing moves. The brakes are responsive but do have that squishy feel common with regenerative braking systems. Visibility is good to the front and sides but not so great to the rear. All in all, the Sienna is easy to drive, which is exactly what you want when you’ve got kids in tow.

EV, Normal, Eco and Sport driving modes let you tailor the performance to your preference. Hey, I’d never thought about putting a minivan in Sport mode, but it does make for punchier acceleration. EV mode lets you drive on all-electric power at low speeds for short distances.

When properly equipped, the Sienna can tow up to 3,500 pounds.

Fuel economy is great for the class. EPA ratings for my AWD tester are 35 mpg city and 36 mpg highway with a combined rating of 35. I did a bit better than that, getting 35.6 mpg during my week with a mix of city and highway driving.

The interior is stylish with a clean design. Materials look and feel good, and most are soft-touch, although there are some hard plastics. Front- and second-row seats are supportive and comfortable, and taller adults will have plenty of leg- and headroom. The second-row seats can slide back and forth, making for lots of legroom. As is usually the case, the third row is best suited for kids, but adults will be fine there for short trips.

Standard features include remote keyless entry, push-button start, rearview camera, tri-zone automatic climate control, cloth upholstery, nine-inch touchscreen, six speaker audio system, Bluetooth, satellite radio, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Amazon Alexa, seven USB ports, Wi-Fi hot spot, power-sliding rear doors, rear sunshades, and automatic high-beam headlights.

Available features include proximity keyless entry, surround-view camera system, head-up display, quad-zone automatic climate control, synthetic or real leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, heated second-row seats, heated steering wheel, eight- or 12-speaker audio system, navigation, HD Radio, wireless device charging, 11.6-inch rear-seat entertainment system, power moonroof, vacuum and refrigerator. Also available is the Driver Easy Speak in-car intercom that lets the driver talk through the rear speakers. (“Kids, don’t make me stop this minivan!”)

Standard driver assistance technologies include blind spot monitoring, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, rear cross traffic alert, pedestrian detection, and road sign detection.

Available driver assistance technologies include front and rear parking sensors and hands-free park assist.

An infotainment system with nine-inch touchscreen is standard. It’s located on top of the dash and is easy to see and reach. Menus are logically arranged. Physical controls can be used for common functions such as audio and climate. The system can lag a little in response to voice and touch commands, and the graphics could use updating but otherwise the system is user-friendly.

The Sienna has less cargo space than other minivans because the Sienna’s second-row seats don’t fold flat and you can’t remove them. There are 33.5 cubic feet behind the third row, and 75.2 cubes with the third row folded—it does fold into the floor. There are 101 cubes with the second row stowed behind the first row. A power liftgate is standard.

The good:

Easy to drive

Smooth ride

Excellent fuel economy

Comfortable cabin with clean design

Lots of standard features and tech

Standard Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa

The not-so-good:

Could use more power on the highway

Second-row seats limit cargo capacity

Pricing info:

My tester starts at $41,750. The Rear Seat Entertainment System is $1,415 and includes a 1080p HD entertainment center with 11.6-inch display, HDMI input, remote and two wireless headphones. 1500W inverter is $300. XLE Plus Package is $2,000 and includes wireless smartphone charging, black roof rails, premium audio, nine-inch touchscreen, dynamic navigation with 3-year trial, 12 JBL speakers including subwoofer and amplifier. Preferred Accuracy Package with All Weather Liners is $294. Tri-fold cargo liner is $99. Tow hitch is $840. Mudguards are $149. Wheel locks are $65. Delivery fee is $1,175 bringing the grand total to $48,087.

Bottom line:

The 2021 Toyota Sienna takes some cues from SUVS but still does everything you expect from a minivan. It’s easy to drive, comfortable, comes well equipped, and gets great fuel economy thanks to its hybrid powertrain.

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