Clifford AtiyehCar and Driver
The Toyota Sienna is all new for 2021. It’s sportier to the eyes, smarter on the road with standard driver assists, and comes solely as a hybrid with available all-wheel drive. But what matters in any minivan is the cabin and how well that space treats the little (and big) humans who inhabit it. Here’s your detailed look at the features we liked the most.
Tested: 2021 Toyota Sienna
The Sienna’s second-row captain’s chairs offer extraordinary legroom or cargo space when the third row is stowed flat. Both seats can slide 25 inches backward, which is two inches more than the previous Sienna. That prompted Toyota to change the official seat name from Long Slide to Super Long Slide. (Careful what drops into the sliding rails. A Sienna couple with four young children advised us these rails will—not may—become clogged with crumbs and other gunk that renders the sliding action useless.)
Must-Have Central Vac
They were a selling point for new McMansions built in the 1990s, but now, central vacuuming is the modern minivan’s indulgence. The Honda Odyssey has been sucking for the last seven years, and from 2016, a vacuum became a port-installed accessory on Sienna models sold by Southeast Toyota, an independent distributor in Florida. Only for 2021 is a vacuum available as a Toyota factory option, and unlike those before it, the new Sienna’s vacuum sits in the center console rather than the cargo hold. Twist the hose into the coupling near the feet of your second-row passengers, press a button by the two USB ports, and brrrrooooom! You’ll be entertained for minutes, possibly longer, with three attachments and a hose that stretches to every corner of the van’s interior. The ignition must be on, but if the hybrid battery has enough charge, the engine won’t start to run the vacuum. The dust bin and air filter slide out the bottom of the console for easy cleaning. For liquid spills, you’ll need a full-size Shop Vac.
Cold Drinks for the Second Row
Above the vacuum is a luxury typically found on Land Rover SUVs: the chilled storage bin, with space for a handful of small water bottles or other refreshments. On the pre-production model we drove, there were several blank switch plates near the bin. Just like the airlines, the Sienna is temporarily suspending its beverage service (and the vacuum) due to a supplier problem, so do what normal people do and pack a cooler. It’ll be an option at a later date.
Cutest Third-Row Window Shades
Aren’t they the sweetest little window shades you’ve ever seen?
Concealed Hybrid Battery
Every 2021 Sienna is a gas-electric hybrid. To keep the van’s cargo area low and flat, Toyota placed the 1.9-kWh nickel-metal-hydride battery underneath the front seats. The telltale sign is the set of air vents below the seat controls. If you’re wondering why Chrysler didn’t do the same with the Pacifica hybrid, that’s because the Sienna’s battery is puny. It’s one-eighth the capacity and so it can’t offer the range-extending EV performance of a plug-in setup.
Gesture Control for Sliding Doors
Touching minivan doors has always been icky. Chrysler recognized the feeling when it first offered gesture-controlled power sliding doors for the Pacifica, so Toyota has followed the hands-free trend. By making a kick motion underneath either sill just aft of the front doors, the Sienna’s sliders will open and close to your foot’s command. Even Rolls-Royce and your local supermarket don’t offer the Sienna’s obsessive control over an automatic door. There are five ways: gesturing, pulling the exterior handle, pressing a button on the B-pillar, pressing a button on the overhead console, or pressing a button on the key fob.
Lexus-Style Trim for the Taillights
These polished black fins on the rear fenders allude to air vents that the most exotic cars use to reduce turbulence in the wheel wells. They do nothing functional but look pretty and remind us of the Y-shaped taillight treatment on the Lexus LC500, the Sienna’s far-off relative.
Pickup trucks and SUVs aren’t the only vehicles optimized for tailgate parties. The JBL stereo on the Sienna uses the hatch for its rearmost speaker.
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