2021 Toyota Sienna First Drive | Functional efficiency with style
Hybrid efficiency, a clever use of space and available all-wheel drive go a long way
JOHN BELTZ SNYDER
Oct 27th 2020
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The minivan segment isn’t a huge one, and it’s largely dominated by three players. There’s the stylish Chrysler Pacifica, with the excellent plug-in hybrid option. The Honda Odyssey unapologetically leans into its minivan-ness and family-hauling duties. Then there’s the new, totally redesigned 2021 Toyota Sienna. Its selling points are immediately apparent: unique styling, a standard hybrid powertrain and available all-wheel drive. Oh, and it’s a Toyota, which precedes itself with a reputation for reliability and utility, as well as a huge existing customer base. Barring some sort of dealbreaker in the test drive, this blend of existing traits (brand, AWD) and new ones (design, hybrid only) should probably be enough to make the Sienna appealing to those shopping in this lightly stocked aisle.
Spoiler alert: we found no dealbreakers during our test drive, but we were able to dig deeper into what we love, what we like and what we can accept.
First, we like the looks. Toyota did this van a service by making it look more like an SUV. Toyota’s not shy about gaping maws on its vehicles, but the prominent grille looks especially supportive of the high hood and thin, sweeping LED headlights. The character line that traces up and over the bulging rear fender gives a sense of fortitude below the rising beltline. Toward the rear is where the Sienna looks most like a minivan, where the long roof and vast liftgate can’t be downplayed by any design tricks. Still, the roof spoiler and slender LED taillights give this van the best possible rearward expression.
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