In US, the minivan segment is not dead, as in Europe. The car manufacturers maintain their interest in this segment. The most recent example is the 2021 Toyota Sienna.
The fourth-gen Sienna, designed by the combined effort of CALTY’s Newport Beach, CA and Ann Arbor, MI studios. Starting with an all new minivan structure based on the TNGA-K Platform, the goal was to optimize everything that is great about minivan function.
The front design was inspired by the iconic Shinkansen Japanese Bullet Train to appear sleek, speedy and confident. The headlights are mounted high and stretched around to the sides as if they are being shaped by the wind. The bold lower grille is contrasted by slim, high tech LED fog lights that are pushed to the corners, enhancing the wide and stable stance.
In the spirit of optimizing interior roominess while avoiding a boxy design, the rear cabin features a speedy pillar that is dynamically angled forward. The taillight flows seamlessly from the sculpted body to the rear, using thin bands of LED lighting to create a signature impression. There is an integrated black taillight canard that not only looks cool, but also improves aerodynamic performance.
The ultra-sporty XSE model has dark 20 inch split 5 spoke wheels and aggressive front and rear bumpers that are unique to XSE.
Inside, the Bridge Console is an innovative solution that is a departure from common minivan layouts. The bridge is ergonomically positioned high between the driver and passenger for ease of use, and elegantly connects the instrument panel to the center armrest. This unique feature enables the driver to have a more stress-free and comfortable driving experience. The shifter and necessary functions are all within easy reach, along with cup holders, available wireless charger, and ample storage bins for smaller items. Beneath the bridge is a large open area for convenient storage of larger personal items such as a purse or bag.
To further celebrate the interior spaciousness, the available Super Long Slide second-row captain chairs slide 25 inches, providing unprecedented legroom and flexibility to maximize comfort, especially when used with the available ottoman feature.
The 2021 Sienna is equipped with 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).
The 2021 Sienna driver might not even notice the new model’s most significant engineering advance: the hybrid powertrain. That’s the point. The Toyota Hybrid System II delivers 243 total horsepower and a manufacturer-estimated 33 combined MPG fuel economy. The driver can use a sequential shifting feature to “downshift,” which increases the regenerative braking in steps.
Sienna has long offered optional all-wheel drive, and the 2021 model is no exception. The 2021 Sienna is the only vehicle in its segment that combines a hybrid powertrain with AWD, and the system is available on all model grades for an exceptionally attractive price.
Sienna uses a new kind of AWD called Electronic on-demand AWD. Instead of a heavy AWD transfer case and space-robbing driveshaft to the rear wheels, this AWD system uses a separate independent electric motor to power the rear wheels the instant additional traction is needed and at all vehicle speeds.
Like the hybrid system, the Hybrid AWD system works seamlessly and transparently. During off-the-line starts, Hybrid AWD pre-emptively sends up to 80 percent of driving force to the rear wheels to help prevent front-wheel slip. The Hybrid AWD system also enhances cornering agility by helping to reduce understeer, giving the Sienna a more confident handling feel.