In the age of the crossover, minivans are typically an un-sexy subject. As dadcore as Saucony shoes, they’re practical, spacious and dependable, if a bit short on style and often stereotyped. For 2021, Toyota’s long-running Sienna kicks off the Sauconys and laces up a pair of Nike SBs, with style, gadgets and a powertrain like no minivan before.
On the outside, the new Toyota Sienna’s designers have taken inspiration from the Shinkansen bullet trains. The front end with its shark-like grille has been stretched out in multiple steps to make it appear closer to the ground while big, meaty haunches and a surprising amount of tumblehome (how far the pillars curve towards the centreline of the car) all contribute to the Sienna’s newfound aggression. There’s even a little ducktail-esque element on the tailgate that draws to mind the new Supra. It’s a radical redesign for Toyota’s long-running family hauler and one that’s sure to please buyers who are enamored with the macho looks of many three-row crossovers.
Inside, the Sienna’s radical redesign continues. To minimize the bus-like driving position found in many minivans, Toyota has come up with something called the bridge console. It’s a floating centre console that houses the shifter, cupholders, armrest and wireless charging pad while providing open space underneath for laptops and handbags. While it’s likely to impact the plans of those who wish to poke really long lengths of lumber through the traditional minivan gap between the front seats, it’s likely to find more fans than detractors. When it comes to toys, Toyota may have the competition licked. The top-spec stereo promises to be as bombastic as the exterior styling, a 12-speaker JBL unit pumping out 1,200 watts of peak power. Refreshments come courtesy of an optional refrigerator while relaxation comes courtesy of optional heated reclining second-row seats with integrated footrests. The 2021 Sienna also hops on the trend of minivans that can clean their own interiors with an available integrated vacuum cleaner. It all adds up to an extremely compelling interior that we’re eager to test out.
While most minivans are propelled by six-cylinder engines displacing somewhere between 3.3 and 3.6 litres, Toyota has decided to eschew that norm entirely by making every single 2021 Sienna a four-cylinder hybrid. The 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine comes fitted with an electric water pump and a variable-capacity oil pump to help boost its thermal efficiency to an astonishing 41-per cent while electric augmentation comes courtesy of a hybrid battery pack and at least two electric motors. All-wheel-drive models are boosted by a third electric motor on the rear axle that can send up to 80-per cent of the Sienna’s torque to the rear wheels. In front-wheel-drive form, Toyota estimates impressive combined fuel economy of 7.1 litres per hundred kilometres. All the latest safety features are also on deck, from an available birds-eye camera system to a standard suite of active driving assists including radar cruise control, Lane Trace Assist, blind-spot monitoring and automated emergency braking.
With its unique mix of style, features and efficiency the 2021 Toyota Sienna is ready to make a big splash in the minivan market. Expect pricing to be announced closer to its on-sale date later this year.