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Toyota’s Sienna 2021 hybrid proves that minivans can be fun, not just practical

There is a time in your life when minivans only make sense. Usually, this is when you start learning about the shades of car seats, strollers and all the other tools that kids need. Then came the football matches and the cacophonous carpools. I don’t waste time arguing about the practicality of minivans, because no matter how the frame, they will always be better for a typical family than an SUV or a crossover. They have more space for passengers and loads, and are easier to access when you need to secure a screaming child.

Gallery: Toyota Sienna 2021 Œ œ 22 Photo

No matter how sensible they are, however, minivans still suffer from being seen as boring vehicles for moms and dads who have just given up. It’s an idea that Toyota is trying to annihilate with its Sienna 2021. Its sporty style evokes Toyota’s most adventurous SUVs, and it has all the latest infotainment services to please parents and children alike. Most importantly, however, each Sienna 2021 is a hybrid offering of at least 35 MPG of combined mileage (the initial-level LE trim is rated at 36 MPG). And with a starting price of $ 34,460, it’s around $ 4,000 less than the Toyota 2021 Hybrid Highlander, which offers the same mileage but with more limited seating space.

Boasting so much technology in the Sienna 2021 at a low price, Toyota is clearly shooting for Honda’s ever-famous odyssey, and Chrysler’s hybrid plug-in Pacific. The Pacifica offers up to 32 miles of electric-only battery life, making it ideal for families who don’t need to travel very often. But it also costs a lot more than the Sienna, starting at $ 40,620 for the base model. In addition, Toyota has managed to put its AWD hybrid system in Siena, while Pacifica and Odyssey offer only front-wheel drive. (Another big blow against Honda: there is no hybrid Odyssey yet!)

Devindra Hardawar / Engadget

Based solely on its style, the Sienna 2021 clearly has a lot more to offer than the Pacific. (There’s a reason Toyota jokingly labeled it a “skip wagon.”) The sharp lines and large grille along its front give it an aggressive atmosphere, as if it’s more eager to hit the circuit. that’s the putter for a football game. And that style continues along the side panels, making the Sienna seem to accelerate down the highway even when it’s stationary. Along the back, it is clearly similar to a truck, with a low-load floor that facilitates the lifting of passengers and pets.

The interior is just as impressive, at least in the Limited model (starting at $ 50,085) which I’ve been testing for a week. A standard 9-inch touchscreen is the centerpiece of the infotainment system, and comes equipped with support for Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Amazon Alexa. The front, second and third row seats are covered in a luxurious leather trim. The last row of seats can be placed flat with the pull of a rope. And, well, there is right so much more room than my 2017 RAV4 Hybrid. I knew it was coming in, of course, but it’s another thing to experience the vast difference in size between a minivan and an SUV crossover in person.

2021 Toyota Sienna

Devindra Hardawar / Engadget

Installing my child’s car seat was much easier with the Sienna, thanks to its automatic sliding doors. There’s more room to maneuver – a must when lifting a 30-pound device – and I actually appreciated being able to sit in the other second-row chair to secure the seat belt. My daughter immediately took me to Siena. As soon as I slammed it into the car seat, he looked around with wide eyes and said “Wow, I like this car!” (And that was after testing a Tesla Model Y, which elicited a largely ho-hum response.)

It may just be that Sienna 2021 is on many parents ’wish lists right now, but I was surprised how many people approached me to ask. Five minutes after my first drive, our local Dunkin ’Donuts director recognized him immediately and gave me his Indian Father’s Seal of Approval. Many parents of local parks were impressed that it doesn’t even look like a minivan (if you squint, it just looks like a Highlander a little longer).

2021 Toyota Sienna

Devindra Hardawar / Engadget

While I was expecting Sienna to drive a bit like a boat, I was surprised to find that it was quite smooth and responsive. It’s not a sports car, but it handled Georgia’s tight ends even better than my RAV4 (I’ll climb it to the lowest center of gravity). And despite the loss of the V6 engine from previous models, the Sienna Hybrid still has a lot of calcium. The 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and dual electric motors offer an impressive 245 hp combination, so it never felt underpowered as I drove slow trucks down the highway. We average about 33MPG throughout the week, even more than what I typically see on our significantly smaller RAV4. The hybrid transmission also gives Sienna an extra boost when moving from a stop point, making it ideal for stop-and-go traffic.

I hadn’t had any adventurous trips planned to try out the Sienna AWD, but I enjoyed having more traction while driving through the torrential summer storms. It was particularly useful when we were driving down steep highways along the mountain in the middle of the rain. A front-wheel drive car might have gone well, but as an anxious father, I still prefer to have peace of mind.


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