2021 Toyota Sienna Hybrid Platinum AWD

2021 Toyota Sienna Hybrid Platinum AWD | Road Trip Review

Hey ya’ll, nothing says “hoon” like a minivan, am I right? However, in the automotive community, at least in the fringes of the Hooniverse, “cool” is relative. Nothing else would explain the cool factor that wagons and vans have around here. So, how does the minivan fit into our little corner of the world? Typically, aside from some of the minivan classics (OG Previa and Caravan), it’s been about as cool as a Prius. I’m not going to sit here and say that this silver 2021 Sienna Hybrid Platinum AWD (whew…that’s a mouthful) minivan with chrome wheels that I’ve been driving is “cool” but damn if it isn’t really good at what it does.

2021 Toyota Sienna Hybrid Platinum AWD

Toyota was cool enough to let me add a ton of miles to this 2021 loaner, which I caravanned (Siennaed?) it from our domicile near Washington D.C. down to the lovely escape that is Hilton Head Island (HHI) in South Carolina. We were all set to take my wife’s (new to us) GLS Benz, but when this became available I couldn’t resist. It meant that we couldn’t take our bikes (no hitch receiver on the loaner) but that’s not a big deal. Bike-friendly HHI will drop bikes off for you to use for a reasonable daily or weekly fee.

Sienna Overview

I hardly ever get minivans to review. My last outing in a Pacifica was…interesting (apologies for the cut scene with Ugg boots and leggings, I was going through some shit). This is too bad because they are an interesting segment in the automotive community. Comedian Joe Koy has a bit talking about the time-honored birth control method of “pulling out”. He noted that it will be the difference between “sports car” (out) and “minivan” (in). I really shouldn’t drink and review, but here we are. Right, think about the Sienna, concentrate.

You can choose between five different trim levels on the 2021 Sienna. The alphanumeric soup consists of LE, XLE, XSE, Limited, and Platinum. Here is the spec for our test car. Van.

2021 Toyota Sienna Hybrid Platinum AWD

I mean, that’s a $50,000 minivan folks, that’s what that is. Not long ago reviewers were postulating when the $50K mark would be broken. I guess you could call it inflation, but it’s been broken and then some. Is the world ready for a fifty-thousand-dollar minivan? Well, the Sienna thankfully comes in a variety of packaging options starting at just $34,460. I don’t know what my parent’s early model hunter green Caravan would cost in today’s money, but considering how many cars I drive during the course of the year, that’s a good starting price.

Our road trip van was the top-spec Platinum trim which tips the financial scales at almost $50,000 without options. Thankfully it’s incredibly well-equipped. Let’s see what’s what.

2021 Toyota Sienna Hybrid Platinum AWD
These were not my boats. I’m not sure whose boats these were.

Exterior

I love that Toyota is taking some chances with its exterior design. Alice Cooper couldn’t put more makeup on his eyes than this thing has draped around its taillights. And I gotta admit, I dig it. Minivans are historically pretty conservative, staid, and other adjectives for boring. This thing has some pizzazz, some flavor. It’s the Guy Fieri of minivans, flavortown here we come!

2021 Toyota Sienna Hybrid Platinum AWD
#CountryClubLife

This sucker has a big ole grille, it’s sort of like it’s wearing a dental appliance. I like it though, much like the rear end (hehe) it has character. Character is in short supply in some cars, so the fact that a minivan has it is a great thing.

The chrome wheels suck, pure and simple. What year is it?

2021 Toyota Sienna Hybrid Platinum AWD

Interior

The real value of a minivan is on the inside, which is some crap I probably said about myself in high school. It’s very much true in this case (also, I looked good in high school, F-off) and the Sienna is a real jack of all trades when it comes to hauling people and stuff.

2021 Toyota Sienna Hybrid Platinum AWD

The picture above is near max capacity with the 3rd row of seats folded. You’ll notice a child’s bike (bike racks are for people without minivans) and several bags and suitcases. What you can’t see is another layer or two of bins, beach chairs, and other gear. This thing swallowed so much of our load (Ed. Note: Come on…you’re better than this). The practicality of a minivan is really unmatched across the crossover and even full-size SUV world. I couldn’t get the rear seats to click fully into place when folded, but they did their job. Elsewhere, the bins, cubbies, and storage is as good as you would expect. My wife, an adamant minivan hater, had to agree that the interior was about as practical as it gets. She even had a spot under the center stack for her purse.

2021 Toyota Sienna Hybrid Platinum AWD

We were impressed with the shelf that ran across most of the dash. It had ridges around it to keep things from sliding and even had an integrated wireless phone charger built-in. My sole criticism of the interior was the oddball cup holders. They were convex on the bottom vs. being flat, so our cans were always at a slight angle. Luckily there are four up front and a boatload more in the back. It was just that these two were the most convenient from a placement perspective.

2021 Toyota Sienna Hybrid Platinum AWD

I seriously had very few other issues with the interior, the DVD screen blocks the rearview mirror, but whatever. Our kid was glued to his iPad on the trip anyway. I might suggest that automakers move to a tablet holder solution for the seatback/headrest area. #BYOD Speaking of devices, the 120v plug up front was great for laptop use while on the move. Toyota definitely spent a lot of time and energy thinking about the interior.

Driving

Out on the highway, which is where I spent the most time in the Sienna, it did amazingly well. It would cruise at 80 mph with every other vehicle when speed limits jumped up to 70 or higher. I did get pulled over once, so much for the anonymity of the silver minivan blending into traffic. The HUD does display your speed, along with the speed limit, so I paid a bit more attention to that moving forward.

2021 Toyota Sienna Hybrid Platinum AWD

The Sienna Hybrid’s massive range (500+ miles) meant that we didn’t have to panic about gas, especially since our trip was just on the tail end of the southeast U.S. gas shortage. That also meant it was cheap to run, that huge range landed us a $40 or so bill to go from DC to Hilton Head.

Things weren’t perfect on the drive, there isn’t much dead pedal room, so I found myself slightly uncomfortable from time to time. After the traffic stop, I tried the radar cruise function. However, it is so conservative (even in “tailgate” mode) it doesn’t really work in most situations. Don’t get me started on the lane assist. Like a lot of systems, it was so judgy that it yelled at me before I even touched the line.

Summary

It’s OK to hate on minivans, this 2021 Toyota Sienna Hybrid Platinum AWD is far from “cool”. I know I said I dig it, but the more I think about it (and reread this sober), the oddly aggressive grille and rear styling, paired with the bland silver paint and chrome wheels, feels like a bit of a boomer attempt to be cool. But it’s incredibly good at what it does. In fact, there are likely no better road trip vehicles than minivans. This thing hung with fast-moving traffic (a little too well at times), was comfortable, economical, and spacious. It’s a do-it-all vehicle, it’s just not cool. And that’s OK.

Bonus Pics

2021 Toyota Sienna Hybrid Platinum AWD

2021 Toyota Sienna Hybrid Platinum AWD

2021 Toyota Sienna Hybrid Platinum AWD

2021 Toyota Sienna Hybrid Platinum AWD

2021 Toyota Sienna Hybrid Platinum AWD

2021 Toyota Sienna Hybrid Platinum AWD

2021 Toyota Sienna Hybrid Platinum AWD

2021 Toyota Sienna Hybrid Platinum AWD

2021 Toyota Sienna Hybrid Platinum AWD

2021 Toyota Sienna Hybrid Platinum AWD

2021 Toyota Sienna Hybrid Platinum AWD

2021 Toyota Sienna Hybrid Platinum AWD

2021 Toyota Sienna Hybrid Platinum AWD

2021 Toyota Sienna Hybrid Platinum AWD

2021 Toyota Sienna Hybrid Platinum AWD

6 Comments

  1. First off, I don’t hate minivans. I drive one daily. Granted, it wouldn’t be my choice if not for the family need, but it is a hugely capable and practical vehicle and I very much appreciate the minivan for those reasons. I would rather have a wagon, rather have a stick shift, rather have RWD… but for what it does, the minivan is fine.

    I think from the driver’s seat of this particular minivan, I would be satisfied. That’s a nice looking interior, and the prior Siennas I’ve driven have had good power and respectable-for-the-size handling. However, there’s no way I would part with $50k for it, and absolutely no way I would want something that ugly in my driveway. There’s no “warming up” to that heinous mug. I don’t have a bias against Toyota at all, but their styling went from bland 20 years ago to ugly 10 years ago to downright garish today.

  2. I really softened to the aesthetics of the modern Sienna shape when I read a comment somewhere likening it to the Japanese bullet train evolution. Indeed, the latest one is more ‘Shinkansen-ey’ than ever, especially with the hybrid-only powertrain and bulbous shiny black trim bit on the nosecone, as it were. Add to that the similar goals of transporting as many people as efficiently and quickly as possible, and I’ve quite warmed to the idea of the Sienna as a ‘Shinkansen for the road!’ A shame the infotainment is still middling and the ergonomics are debatable. I really preferred Honda’s more nimble approach with the earlier Odysseys (up to RL3) over the cushiness of the Sienna, but now with all the minivans becoming soft I’d take the ultra-luxe and sophisticate 4th-gen Carnival as my pick of the market, though the appeal of the plug-in Pacy remains strong. It’s a good time to be into minivans.

    1. That’s an interesting take, both on the (imho failed) design and today being a good time for minivans. Honestly, there’s not much mini about it. Available vans are quite big cars. I really miss my Stream, the non-available successor Jade attached for reference. Almost the entire class is axed, even in Europe. Citroën gets closest with the C4 Picasso, and Ford has the bigger Galaxy. They’re good to drive, but just a tad too huge. The SUV of vans.

      As for the article, I wish the “cool”-angle had run its course, as well as I understand how important it is for car sales. It’s life or death for a car model to not be the dork, but it would be lovely if people could just buy the smartest, most practical vehicle for their needs and get over it. The most unsecure dads could just park a Corvette next to it, or paint their Sienna with flames…btw, no horsepower number?

      1. Per the window sticker it has 245 ‘system’ hp – but there is no mention of the word hybrid which is a bit strange.

        I wonder if covering so much of the nose with black plastic is designed to cut down on stone chips? Also the pre-dented contours remind me of the local version of the Honda Odyssey (or M-B E-Class & CLS from 2010)

        1. Are you saying you can buy the Jade in Australia? These two Honda vans are a great contrast, it’s amazing how much more heft there is to the Odyssey (which we don’t get here either).

    2. I suppose beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and I could relate more to the bullet-train comparison if said train had a gaping fish mouth and crying mascara lines, and was riddled with seemingly superfluous body contours. The bullet trains appropriately look like molten plastic that was shot through the wind and took the shape of least resistance. In contrast, that Sienna looks like someone poured molten plastic over a catfish. But again, to each their own. I wish I didn’t feel this way because Toyota makes some good vehicles, but their styling– including that of Lexus– makes me mentally wince. The hood of this Sienna reminds me of a toilet seat lid.

      When I first saw the fourth-gen Prius on display in Detroit a few years ago, I literally laughed out loud at how ugly it was. Some young guy at least 20 years my junior was standing beside me as I uttered “wow”. He piped up with enthusiasm and said “I know, right, it’s great!”, thinking my comment was positive. We had a short exchange about the differences in perception and how age may influence things. He asked me what car at the show I thought looked attractive, and I suggested maybe the Jag F-Type R. He just laughed, as if I’d said something witty. I smiled and walked away, leaving him ogling admiringly at that little toad of a car.

      You are absolutely right about the strength of the minivan market right now, though. And I agree with Sjalabais’s comment that “it would be lovely if people could just buy the smartest, most practical vehicle for their needs and get over it.” Nothing suits our family as well as our Sedona, especially with three kids (and considering my 15-year-old is 6’4″). Once my last kid leaves the nest, my driving needs will change and I’ll move to something smaller (and which might suit my recreational interests), but for now, no other vehicle type does the job as well as a minivan.

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