Tested: 2021 Toyota Sienna XSE

Who knew you could get compact car fuel mileage in a big seven-passenger minivan?

The Toyota Sienna has been a player in the minivan segment since 1997, when it replaced the Previa. The second-generation Sienna appeared in 2003, the third in 2010 and the fourth, and current model in 2020.

 

After a week in a big, all-wheel-drive three-row minivan, my average fuel consumption was an astonishing 7.1 litres per 100 kilometres.

 

Built in the US on the same platform as the Camry, the current Sienna was the only minivan offering all-wheel drive, until the 2021 Chrysler Pacifica. The 2021 Sienna is available in front-drive, eight-passenger or all-wheel-drive seven-passenger formats.

 

2021 Toyota Sienna XSE (Photo: Garry Sowerby)

 

 

In all cases the new Sienna features a hybrid powertrain. And therein lies the difference.

After a week in a big, all-wheel-drive three-row minivan, my average fuel consumption was an astonishing 7.1 litres per 100 kilometres.

During the week, I frequently witnessed 6.1 – 6.5 litre consumption. Those numbers are usually associated with compact hybrid or plug-in hybrid cars, not something this size with this much capacity!

 

Toyota has been the leader in hybrid technology for decades.

The combination of a four-cylinder gasoline-burning engine and electric motors has been perfected and offered on a wide range of vehicles, cars, crossovers and now minivans.

Toyota’s hybrid expertise has most recently resulted in a 300-plus horsepower RAV4 crossover and the Sienna minivan. For the RAV4, the result is performance not usually associated with the breed and for the Sienna, it brings awesome fuel efficiency.

That alone separates the Sienna from the competition – Chrysler Pacifica, Honda Odyssey and Kia Carnival.

 

2021 Toyota Sienna XSE (Photo: Garry Sowerby)

 

 

The exterior styling is that of a minivan. After all there is little you can do to disguise the need for three rows of seats and the tall roofline allowing plenty of headroom in that third row.

The design team did ensure the Sienna carried Toyota design cues, especially in the front. It also did a great job inside where there is a spaciousness and worthy of a big people mover.

 

2021 Toyota Sienna XSE

 

The first impression when entering the cabin is the number and size of storage solutions. The big, wide and two-layered center console is expansive with easy and open access to the lower level for large objects like purses. On the passenger side, a tray runs from the centre to the door for smaller items. There are bins, cupholders and USB outlets throughout all three rows.

 

 

The second row of the seven-passenger configuration boasts a pair of ‘captain’s chairs’ – bucket seats that can move fore and aft through an amazing 50 centimetres of travel.

In the rearward position, there is enough legroom to make it difficult to stretch your feet out far enough to touch the back of the front seats. Pull it forward and third row occupants can actually sit back there.

 

The standout feature of the Sienna, however, is fuel efficiency.

The 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine is mated to a pair of electric motors. Power is sent to all four wheels through a continuously variable automatic transmission.

The combined output of the engine and two motors is a respectable 245 horsepower.

Toyota does not publish torque numbers but is clear the instant torque provided by electric motors plays a significant role in performance which can best be described as adequate.

To access the amount of power required to move this 5,000-lb (including a driver) vehicle, away from rest, climbing a lengthy grade or when passing, a lot of throttle travel is required. The result is a fair amount of noise from beneath the hood as engine revs are kept up in the range where power is produced.

The upside is the tremendous fuel mileage.

The suspension does a commendable job of coping with rough, and uneven surfaces despite the use of low-profile, 20-inch tires. The Sienna is actually pretty agile in the turns for such a tall and heavy vehicle. It’s no sports car, but much better than expected with minimal body roll.

 

 

 

Toyota has put a major push on safety features.

This is especially important in such a family-oriented vehicle. Toyota’s Safety Sense system brings adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking and lane keep assist.

Crisp LED headlights, blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert, lane tracing and departure alert, pre- collision system with pedestrian and bicycle detection all help the Sienna earn top marks from various safety agencies.

The 2021 Toyota Sienna offers an attractive combination of practicality and fuel efficiency with a proven combination of quality and reliability.

 

 

FACTS & FIGURES – 2021 Toyota Sienna XSE

PRICE

Base: $45.690

As tested: $53,156 including freight

 

SAFETY

LED headlights, Blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert, lane tracing assist, lane departure alert with steering assist and road edge detection, pre- collision system with pedestrian detection and bicycle detection, automatic high beams, full-speed dynamic radar cruise control, smart stop technology

 

INFOTAINMENT

Eight speakers, 23-cm touch screen, seven USB charging ports, satellite radio, embedded navigation

 

 

STANDARD EQUIPMENT

Remote start, power windows, heated front seats, eight-way power driver’s seat, tilt & telescope steering wheel, four-zone automatic climate control, heated steering wheel, four-way power passenger seat, garage door opener, push button start, power rear door with lick sensor, 2nd row sunshade on power sliding doors with kick sensor, 20-in alloy wheels, power moonroof

 

SIGNIFICANT OPTIONS

Technology package, $5,500.00 – Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, intelligent clearance sonar with rear cross traffic brake, Qi- compatible wireless charging, 23-cm touch screen, driver easy speak, digital display rear view mirror, rear camera washer, wide angle backup camera, HDMI Inputs and 2 sets of wireless headphones, 120V/1500-watt accessory power outlet, rear seat entertainment system

 

MECHANICAL

2.5-litre four-cylinder, hybrid synergy drive, 245 horsepower, x lb.-ft. of torque, regular fuel, Continuously variable transmission, front-wheel-drive. NRCan rating (litres/100km city/highway): 6.6 / 6.5

 

DIMENSIONS

Length, 5,185 mm; width, 1,995 mm; wheelbase, 3,060 mm; weight, 2,120 kg

 

COMPETITION

Chrysler Pacifica, Honda Odyssey, Kia Carnival

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