By Larry Lark, contributor
Minivans. They were at the top of the automotive pantheon, fell into obscurity, and are in the midst of a comeback story.
Americans love comebacks. And underdogs. So it’s understandable the 2021 Toyota Sienna Platinum hybrid minivan – now in its fourth generation – is being rediscovered.
Designed, engineered and assembled in the US, Sienna offers the bold and robust character of SUVs, hosts many premium features: kick-open and closed sliding side doors and rear gate, four-zone climate control system, heated second-row super-long slide captain’s chairs with ottomans, a segment-first power tilt and telescoping steering column with heated steering wheel, a digital rear-view mirror, 10-inch color head-up display, and 12-speaker JBL premium audio system.
Sienna is also ready for life’s outdoor adventures with its all-wheel drive option – and is well-positioned for Yakima accessories, such as a rooftop carrier, cross bars, bike rack and more. The Sienna will also offer an available tow hitch and factory optional 1,500-watt inverter with 120V AC outlet to power camping equipment.
What’s more, all versions of the 2021 Sienna are rated to tow up to 3,500 pounds. That’s enough to pull a well-equipped compact travel trailer, or simply carry your bikes for that weekend getaway.
Does that not sound like an SUV on steroids?
“This is an all-new vehicle from the ground up, including a new chassis platform as well as a new electrical platform,” said Chief Engineer Monte Kaehr. “The development of the fourth generation Sienna was a huge undertaking but we always worked towards one single mission—to make the best van yet.”
The 2021 Toyota Sienna comes in five trim levels: LE, XLE, XSE, Limited, and Platinum. All are outfitted with the same hybrid system. My Platinum all-wheel drive hybrid tester seats seven adults and delivered an impressive 36 miles per fuel economy in combined city and highway driving.
The Sienna driver will feel ultra-smooth acceleration and hear very little noise. What is noticeable is the kick in low-speed torque from two electric motors working in concert with the high-efficiency 2.5-liter DOHC four-cylinder engine.
Drivers might not even notice the new model’s most significant engineering advance: the hybrid powertrain. That’s the point. The system delivers 243 total horsepower and segment-leading fuel economy, all while operating seamlessly and transparently.
And the interior, accessed via oversized power sliding doors on either side, delivers versatility and functionality to meet the needs of any family. My Platinum trim came with second-row captain’s chairs and a drop-down entertainment system. The third-row split bench can fold flat when needed, or an under-floor storage compartment can suffice when maximum passengers and cargo are needed.
Additional creature comforts include heated and ventilated leather-trimmed seats, dynamic navigation, hands-free Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, multi-view rear camera, dynamic radar cruise control, and two wireless headphones to complement the rear entertainment system.
Completing the Sienna package is Toyota’s second-generation Toyota Safety Sense safety suite, a comprehensive active safety system that includes pre-collision system with pedestrian detection/lowlight detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, lane trace assist, automatic high beams and road sign assist.
Base Price: $51,075
Price As Driven: $53,666
Destination charge is included in base price. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturer. List price may vary at local dealerships.