Wow, have minivans come a long way. And let's face it, they've had to with the SUV craze gripping America. If Q1 sales numbers are any indication, Toyota is proving its popular minivan is still relevant in the current climate with its all-new 2021 Toyota Sienna. Toyota reports 26,578 Siennas sold in the first quarter of 2021, more than double the 11,876 sold in Q1 2020.
The 4th-generation Sienna is built on a new platform and is notably a hybrid-only five trim lineup. It checks off the stylish, modern -- and, yes, practical boxes and brings some surprises to the table too. Like its surprisingly almost SUV-like ride with terrific acceleration, thanks to that new hybrid powertrain coupled with available eAWD.
My top-of-the line Platinum trim in Celestial Silver Metallic showcases a sculpted, not boxy design. The beltline's curves are marked by two creases - the lower of which is more dominant, stretching up above the rear wheel arches. While the short front hood is minivan-esque to me, its thin headlights and layered, front end give it a modern look. The Platinum features a dark gray metallic grille flanked by thin Bi-LED headlights and LED daytime running lights, along with LED fog lights.
A blue hybrid Toyota logo is integrated into the hood above the grille. The Platinum AWD rides on 18-inch metallic wheels and sports black side rocker panels. Chrome accents add polish. The tail end sports a decidedly more SUV-like look to me, where you'll find stylish thin tail lamps on the tail end that wrap around the sides. On top, you'll see optional cross bars, a color-keyed shark fin antenna and a standard sized moonroof.
The Sienna cabin is well-designed and built using soft-touch materials. This model sports a two-tone Noble Brown leather interior. Soft -touch materials adorn a large, wide layered dash as well as the upper door panels and armrests. Wood-grain style trim and silver accents add contrast.
The Platinum AWD seats seven. Its leather-trimmed front heated and ventilated seats feel great though the seat cushions could be a tad longer. The driver's is 8-way power adjustable, the passenger's is 4-way. The driver is greeted by a cushy, power tilt and telescopic leather-wrapped steering wheel with steering-wheel mounted controls.
A "bridge console" area sits noticeably high and over a large passthrough storage area. Ergonomically, it works well with the height of the driver's seat. The "bridge" houses a leather-wrapped gear shifter, electronic parking brake, auto brake hold and drive mode select. A standard wireless charger is set back into the dash area. A nice-sized center console bin - surrounded by nicely padded armrests on both sides - opens easily with the push of a button to reveal storage space and two USB ports.
2nd and 3rd Row
Comfort abounds in the second row as well where legroom will definitely not be an issue thanks to its 2nd-row heated Super Long Slide captain's seats. They slide an amazing 25 inches. But you'll need some muscle to slide the manually operated seats back and forth. (Where is Popeye when you need him or better yet perhaps I just need to eat more spinach!)
An optional HD entertainment system will keep second- and third-row occupants occupied if they forget their own devices at home. Above the second row you'll also find rear climate controls.
The third row is roomy as you'd expect, though at the mercy of the second row passengers, who dictate the space with the Super Long Slide seats. There are USB ports, cupholders, and A/C vents to keep 3rd-row passengers comfortable. The 3rd-row seats recline as well.
The Platinum trim provides manual sunshades for both the 2nd and 3rd rows.
The Sienna gives you plenty of options for opening its power sliding side doors. By strategically placed buttons on the interior, upper console, keyfob and even an available kick sensor. The power liftgate is also available with a kick sensor. There's a deep cargo space area in the back, but no spare tire unless you option one. The 60/40 one-motion Split and Stow reclining 3rd row seat is easy to operate and with the 3rd-row seats down, you'll get 75.2 cubic feet of cargo space.
You also won't lack for cup and bottle holders in here- with up to 18 scattered throughout along with plenty of cubby holes for storing stuff.
Tech highlights for me include the premium 9-inch pinch and zoom dynamic navigation and infotainment touchscreen. It's not slanted like in some Toyota models (see my recent Prius review). It's more straight up and down, which makes a huge difference in sun glare. The system is responsive and supports quality maps.
Voice command is impressive too and works well changing stations and finding locations.
Also, a 12-speaker JBL premium audio system earns a spot as one of my favorites in a Toyota vehicle -- it sounds great in the space.
A really nice available 10-inch color head-up display with road sign assist is also worth a mention, as is Toyota's also optional digital rearview mirror with crystal clear clarity.
You'll also be connected in Sienna for sure, be it via Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Amazon Alexa and Bluetooth. You also have 6 USB charging ports and 1 USB Media port.
Other technology in the Sienna includes a 7-inch driver digital display with driver info and powertrain information set in between analog dials that could use a bit more updating. I also think the resolution of the backup camera and Birds Eye View perimeter scan could be a bit sharper.
Family Friendly Features
A notable new for 2021 family friendly feature is the Toyota For Families App. It has instructions on how to install child car seats in the Sienna. Other family friendly features not already mentioned include Driver Easy Speak you can use to talk to rear seat passengers and Rear Seat Reminder.
So what do you do when you don't have kids to haul around? Well, this week afforded me the chance to shuttle my 75+ parents to an appointment in the Sienna, providing an valuable perspective (and proof minivans are for more than just for families with young kids.)
Both of my parents enjoyed the ride and drive and spaciousness. They were also quite impressed with the seat comfort and great spine support. My mom also remarked upon the nice large side door grab handle, as well as the vast 2nd-row floor space provided by the Super Long Slide Seats. There was plenty of space to put her feet. However, one thing on our wish list would be a retractable running board or step up. The Sienna has more ground clearance than expected and she needed use of a step stool to step inside. (The Sienna can be outfitted with a power lift-up seat from Braunability.)
Ride and Drive
The Sienna is a minivan that does a great job of making you feel like you're not driving a said minivan. Overall, it provides a ride that's more engaging than you'd think of a minivan. And that's just what Toyota was after. It's not change-your-life "exciting" but it's not dull either. It offers quick off the line acceleration thanks to the torque afforded by the hybrid eAWD powertrain. It maneuvers surprisingly well with a great turning radius and the suspension offers a comfortable ride.
Toyota's hybrid system pairs a 2.5-L 4-cylinder engine with electric motors to an ECVT for a combined 245-horsepower. The Platinum comes with standard eAWD, with normal, eco, sport and EV drive modes (for low-speed, short distance situations.) Acceleration feels great, thanks to the hybrid powertrain paired with the eAWD which gives it the torque needed to provide great off the line acceleration.
The Sienna's braking and handling felt confident and on point. Notably, its regenerative braking is not noticeable like I experienced recently with the Prius.
The Sienna can tow 3,500 pounds and also now offers an available tow hitch. A factory optional 1,500-watt inverter ($300) with 120V AC outlet can be used to power camping equipment.
The Sienna lineup comes with standard Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 that includes Pre-Collision with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, Lane Tracing Assist, Automatic High Beams, Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control and Road Sign Assist. The lineup also features standard with Blind Spot Monitoring, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and Rear Seat Reminder.
Options on my model include the rear seat HD entertainment system with 11.6-inch display w/two wireless headphones ($1415), 1500-watt inverter ($300), digital rearview mirror ($200) carpet floor mats ($220), door sill protectors ($40), a rear bumper applique ($69), wireless headphones ($100) and cross bars ($200)
For someone who doesn't personally need a big family hauler, be it a large minivan or SUV, I found the Sienna enjoyable to drive and my 75+ parents enjoyed the ride, comfort and roominess. While there are a few things on my wish list, overall I can see why it's popular and would make an excellent choice for families.
2021 Toyota Sienna Platinum AWD
- What I liked most: Comfortable leather seats, 9-inch infotainment screen, its acceleration and overall maneuverability.
- What I would change: I'd love to see power 2nd or 3rd row seats. Plus retractable running boards would make it easier for those with mobility issues to step into the vehicle.
- MSRP: Base price $50,460. As Equipped: $54,179.
- Official color: Celestial Silver Metallic.
- Fuel economy: 35 mpg city/36 mpg highway/35 mpg combined.
- Odometer reading when tested: 1,005 miles (recorded 4/11.)
- FWD, RWD or AWD: Electronic on demand AWD.
- Spare tire: Tire Repair Kit. (A spare tire is optional).
- Weight: 4,725 pounds.
- Length-width-height: 203.7" long/78.5" wide/69.7" high without roof rails.
- Fuel-tank capacity: 18 gallons with filler on the driver's side.
- Towing capacity: 203.7" long/78.5" wide/69.7" high without roof rails.
- 2021 Toyota Sienna Platinum in a few words: A modern, comfortable and convenience -packed minivan with impressive acceleration that keeps itself relevant even as the tide turns towards SUVs.
- Warranty: Three-year, 36,000-mile overall warranty and five-year, 60,000-mile powertrain protection.
- Final assembly location: Princeton, Indiana.
- Manufacturer's website: Toyota
- Warranty Basic Warranty: 36 months/36,000 miles; Powertrain: 60 months/60,000 miles/Corrosion Perforation: 60 months/unlimited miles;Hybrid System: 96 months/100,000 miles; Hybrid Battery: 120 months/150,000 miles.