Sienna Amazes with Each Passing Mile

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CHATHAM, Mass. – I have spent a week of amazement while driving the all-new 2021 Toyota Sienna Limited minivan. Amazed at the quiet, comfortable ride; extensive technological features, and incredible 45-miles-per-gallon fuel economy – the best I have ever seen in a minivan!

The Sienna I drove, like the entire 2021 Sienna range, front-wheel drive (FWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD), is a hybrid-electric vehicle. The federal Environmental Protection Agency rates the minivan at 36 mpg in overall driving (36 city/36 highway), but I did very little highway driving (hybrids do better in urban/suburban environments than on the highway). I have NEVER driven a minivan which came close to 35 let alone 40 mpg — very impressive!

And it did this without sacrificing any real-world performance as the combined 243 horsepower from the 2.5-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine and the electric motor moved the large vehicle with suitable aplomb. A continuously variable automatic transmission and sure-footed FWD completed the basic drivetrain componentry.

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The key to any minivan – lots of room for people

The original Toyota minivan, the Previa, was a bit funky inside and out, something the company moved to rectify in 1998 with the first-generation Sienna, while still keeping its basic look unlike  most of the competition.

This fourth generation of the Sienna retains unique styling within its market segment, but with a very strong, purposeful design. The look for this generation was the work of designers in Toyota’s California and Michigan studios.

The Sienna projects large vehicle when viewed from both within and outside, boasting 162.5 cubic feet of very useful, passenger-and-gear-friendly interior space.

That space is especially significant for second-row passenger whose captain’s chairs in the Limited have 25 inches of fore-and-aft movement which comes in handy when they want to raise the foot-rest ottomans (much like those of a first-class airline seat). This seating adjustability means the second row can be arranged to allow good leg room for those in that row as well as anyone in the third row (which is split 60/40 and can be folded flat into the floor).

Up front the leather (covering all seven seating positions and the steering wheel) buckets feature heating, ventilation and power adjustment (the driver’s with memory). Speaking of heating and ventilation, there is four-zone automatic climate control, which can be controlled by either a very logically arranged and easily operated series of buttons with a dedicated LCD screen or by using the touch commands on the nine-inch multi-media display on the top of the dash.

There are a lot of buttons and controls along the dash and on the steering wheel as the Sienna Limited is filled with technology – which in automotive terms covers (depending upon the manufacturer applying it) infotainment, advanced driver-assist systems (ADAS), connectivity and even computer-controlled powertrain systems.

Remote control power assists operate the two side sliding doors, the rear liftgate, the tilt/slide moonroof, and the windows, which include the large ones in the sliding doors.

The infotainment system which entertained and informed me included the usual sources (AM/FM/SiriusXM satellite radio/streaming audio/Apple CarPlay/Android Auto) pumped through a JBL Premium Audio System with nine speakers and 1,200 Watts of amplified sound.

Rear passengers also have a 11.6-inch high-definition video system for entertainment with wireless headphones.

The very-well thought out interior appointments include what Toyota calls a “bridge console,” essentially a two-level unit extending from the center of the dash between the front seats ending with twin cupholders (18 total throughout the cabin) on the floor in front of the second-row seats.

The bottom level at the front of the bridge console provides room for large items easily reachable by front-seat passengers while above sit FOUR cupholders next to and behind the shifter and then a substantial covered compartment at its rear. Well designed; well-conceived; superbly executed.

There are two glove boxes (one lockable), the doors feature numerous, well-shaped cubbies and compartments and there is even a useful shelf along the dash for small items, including the location of the wireless charging pad for so-equipped mobile devices (and there are seven USB ports scattered throughout the cabin to keep everyone’s mobile devices ready to go).


I have barely scratched the surface on the various bits and pieces which encompass the interior of the 2021 Toyota Sienna Limited a case of the whole being even greater than the sum of its parts. This is a great environment in which to take a trip of ANY length.

Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 across the board

The entire Sienna range features Toyota Safety Sense 2.0, the company’s extensive collection of ADAS. The list includes:

Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection/Lowlight Detection
Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control
Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist
Lane Trace Assist
Automatic High Beams
Road Sign Assist

The Pre-Collision System (PCS) with Pedestrian Detection is designed to provide automatic braking capability should the driver not react in time in certain emergency situations. The PCS system is designed to detect a vehicle ahead, as well as detect a bicyclist and even a pedestrian in low light situations.

The standard ADAS also brings one of the most effective Blind Spot Monitors (BSM) I have experienced and includes Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA).

Other safety systems include 10 airbags: driver and front passenger airbags; driver’s knee airbag; passenger seat cushion airbag; front seat side airbags; rear outboard seat side airbags, plus curtain side airbags for all three rows. Toyota’s Star Safety System includes Enhanced Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) with Traction Control (TRAC), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist (BA), Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), and Smart Stop Technology (SST).

Toyota takes safety a step further with features like a rear passenger seatbelt reminder and electric parking brake (EPB) – as well as a new feature called Rear Seat Reminder. Designed with family safety in mind, the rear occupant detection is based on door sequencing logic in which the Combi Meter MID provides a warning “Attention: Check Rear Seat for Passengers and Cargo.”

A lot of vehicle for a lot of people

The 2021 Toyota Sienna Limited is a standout within the minivan segment. Across-the-board hybrid power provides unprecedented fuel economy in all versions – five trim levels all with a choice of front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.

The range begins at $34,460 for the FWD LE through to $52.060 for the top-of-the-line AWD Platinum. Our 2021 Toyota Sienna Limited had a $46,700 base price and with significant options like the rear-seat entertainment system ($1,415) and delivery and handling ($1,175) totaled as reviewed $50.010.

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Not an insignificant amount, but very competitive within the minivan segment. Add in Toyota’s well-earned reputation for quality and reliability as well as the extensive dealer network and there is a lot of value within any version of Sienna chosen.

I was amazed at just how far this Sienna had come from the company’s original Previa minivan and the first Sienna of 1998. Toyota did its homework and American minivan buyers can reap the rewards.

Next week TBR Drives the 2021 Genesis G70 sport sedan

Mike Geylin
Mike Geylin

Mike Geylin is the Editor-in-Chief at Hagman Media. Geylin has been in automotive communications for five decades working in all aspects of the industry from OEM to supplier to motorsports as well as reporting for both newspapers and magazines on the industry.