Toyota Sienna XLE AWD
That is the fuel economy we achieved during 454 miles of driving a 2021 Toyota Sienna XLE AWD, which is sort of simply exceptional. Though virtually every mile of that was two-lane highways, half that total was achieved with four adults aboard plus a baby, two 20-pound dogs, and each inch of remaining space crammed with their collective stuff.
In other words, this wasn’t some hypermiling, best-case-scenario fuel-economy test. In fact, given the aforementioned baby screaming his leave most of the way, the throttle was sometimes rather liberally won’t to, paraphrase, “Get us the F home.” I should also note that 39.4 mpg is an actual calculation supported by the trip odometer and gasoline pump – the in-car fuel economy gauge actually showed our efficiency as slightly worse at 38.4 mpg.
According to the EPA, the 2021 Sienna is estimated to urge 36 mpg highway no matter front- or all-wheel drive, with the FWD version doing ever-so-slightly better combined at 36 mpg versus 35. equivalent drivers also managed only 29.6 mpg during the Sienna vs Pacifica Hybrid comparison test despite having far less weight aboard (the route was totally different and with fewer miles driven, so that’s less statistically sound).
With any of those numbers, however, you’re sure to save many many dollars per annum filling up the Sienna versus the Honda Odyssey, Kia Carnival, or V6-powered Chrysler Pacifica, which all get 22 mpg combined. It cannot be emphasized enough what proportion of a plus this provides the Sienna compared to everything but the uniquely plug-in-able Pacifica Hybrid.
Yet, there’s more to report from my extended time with the new Sienna than simply its better-than-expected fuel economy. The Super Long-Slide second-row seats, which inspired us such a lot during the comparison test, continued to try to do so when pressed into more demanding service.
We slid one side as far forward because the infant seat would allow, therefore freeing up the maximum amount of room as possible for luggage stacked atop the third row’s folded 40-split portion. We then slid the opposite second-row armchair rearwards so my wife could easily attend to the screaming baby while still leaving enough room for grandma riding within the caboose. By the way, she reported being very comfortable back there with absolutely no complaints. No mention of the seat bottom, which I found to be a touch shallow relative to the Pacifica’s.
The in-car storage also proved even as useful needless to say. The unique mesh cupholder on each armchair could hold the (entirely ineffective) baby sound machine. the enormous under-console cargo area was large enough to suit my entire computer backpack, while the covered center console bin could swallow my camera bag and two sunglasses cases.
It isn’t all roses inside, however. This test van was the XLE trim, which is three rungs down the trim ladder from the Platinum driven during the comparison test and in John Snyder’s Sienna first drive. there’s a definite reduction in material quality. Specifically, rather than padded, leather-look vinyl stitched across the dash within the Platinum, Limited, and XSE, the XLE dash is textured hard plastic.
The doors lose the stitched vinyl, too, but the upper trim remains soft-ish. the sides of the middle console do retain the leather-like vinyl trim, but between it’s an unusual rust-colored plastic trim with embossed lines and subtle metallic specks. It’s bizarre, and although possibly better than overtly fake wood, it’s cheap. you’ll see the differences within the side-by-side gallery below.
All of which is bad considering this Toyota Sienna XLE AWD with the Plus package and rear-seat entertainment system stickered for $48,087. The Sienna Platinum tested during the comparison test was $53,666 (add a surprisingly reasonable $210 for AWD).
Perhaps it’s few extra features and a few bits of padded vinyl aren’t worth a $5,600 price premium, but the very fact remains that our XLE test van’s interior certainly didn’t look or desire it carried a sticker approaching $50,000.
The Platinum and therefore the Limited trim do, especially since they need real leather. The XLE has SofTex vinyl, which admittedly might be seen as a benefit to some thanks to its superior wear and lack of cow murder.
Otherwise, the most takeaway was the driving experience. once more, the new Sienna’s steering and handling generally proved to be a cut above the remainder. Fun this minivan isn’t, but it is also not an enormous inert marshmallow that creates you rue the day you had a toddler (previously-mentioned child screaming for 2 hours was making enough of a case there).
The power, or lack thereof, is probably going to be the most important hangup. it’s 245 horsepower, which compares to 280 hp within the Odyssey, 287 within the V6 Pacifica, and 290 within the Carnival. That’s a big deficiency and you actually notice it once you put your foot down. The Toyota hybrid system’s electronically controlled continuously variable transmission doesn’t help things, because it vociferously moos when you’re laying into the throttle.
That said, this is often more a matter of the Toyota Sienna having merely sufficient power while the others have a wealth of it. Despite being fully loaded, the Sienna didn’t feel strained and therefore the engine wasn’t consistently revving its guts out, even on the various hills crested during the 2 round-trip journeys it made between Portland and therefore the Oregon Coast.
Also, the electrical motors on each axle provide a considerable wallop of smooth torque. this is often especially the case while maintaining speed on the highway, which is typically when a non-hybrid CVT can annoy by constantly yo-yo-ing back and forth between barely off-idle and a way louder higher rev range.