BY MORGAN LEGEL
The 2021 Sienna has arrived, and Atkins Kroll Toyota is ready to sell it. Having a family, I jumped at the opportunity to test the hybrid minivan (or multi-passenger vehicle) in my daily life. Beginning on May 14, my family and I put the Sienna through its paces during the weekend.
Introduced to Guam customers in May, the fourth generation of this model has now made it to the top of the list of Toyota vehicles I might purchase. And that’s saying a lot, because I am not — in any way, shape or form — a van woman. However, given the roominess of the cabin and the allure of hybrid combined with all the other features, the Sienna may have changed my mind.
The 2021 Sienna starts at $34,460 and can give any driver up to 36 miles per gallon, which can help when toting a family around here and there, or if a job requires a lot of driving, which mine does.
The Sienna entrusted to me had the “Super White” finish, which I appreciated compared to the black vehicle I currently own, which attracts the heat. Black accents and lettering brought a nice contrast to the white paint as well.
The sportier-than-most appearance set it apart from other minivans I have seen, bringing the silhouette into the 21st century while staying true to past models, for which I do see the appeal. While it is a longer vehicle, the curved shape makes it interesting and gives a look like anything but a minivan.
Worth mentioning is the fact that the 2021 Sienna can tow up to 3,500 pounds, which would amount to a small travel trailer or a flatbed trailer with all my daughter’s toys strapped on. (Not including all the toys she can fit on the inside, which is very large and open.)
I had to do a double take when I first opened the driver’s-side door. The massive center console sports more cupholders than the two front-seat occupants could ever need, and the storage caught my eyes right off the bat. There was definitely room for whatever I needed to store and stash, from baby bottles and toys to to-go cups and my purse.
The Sienna I test-drove seats seven passengers, with two full rows of seats in the back.
Designed for a modern-day family, there were also multiple cupholders in the two backseats, along with multiple different charging ports for various devices. The middle row seats slide back and forth, making access to the back row easy. Also, if not needed, the last row folds almost flat, creating a large trunk area.
Even with all 5 foot and 11 inches of my height, I had plenty of legroom in all eight of the seats. (I tried them all.) And my daughter was very happy to have space, along with the large window she could gaze out of from her rear-facing car seat.
It is important to note that while the Sienna I borrowed had six rear seats, others have five, with two captain’s chairs with pull-out ottomans in the middle row.
Even parents and families need technology, right? Well, for me, anyway, it’s a must. The large 10-inch touch screen display made listening to “old-school jams” from the 1990s a pleasant experience.
The four-zone climate system is what did it for me, though. My daughter stayed cool and happy throughout the ride — a feat not met with my current vehicle.
All of the aforementioned charging ports wouldn’t hurt for a larger family with multiple tablets and electronics.
Because of its hybrid status, the Sienna boast an ultra-smooth ride, with little road noise. (Making those 90s singles so much easier to sing along to.)
What was intriguing for me was the fact that as I was driving, the transition from electric to gas went unnoticed.
Due to the length of the vehicle, the lane-change and blind spot sensors were a huge help. Should the driver drift into another lane without a turn signal on, the steering wheel lets out a small vibration; when the driver is intentionally changing lanes, if another car is within hitting distance, a small light will brighten on the side-view mirror.
In addition to some of the basic safety features and the handling features listed above, the Sienna has a back-up camera that lets you see the distance of objects behind you, a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection to slow down the vehicle if someone jumps out in front of you, and road sign assist that can tell you anything from the speed limit to when there is a yield or stop sign.
I definitely felt safe enough for my husband and daughter to tag along for the test-driving during the weekend. mbj