Updated: Mar 31, 2022
The world is full of surprises. Here's one: The minivan---the vehicle almost no one wants to admit they're in the market for---is actually really interesting right now.
There are four competitors---the Honda Odyssey, the Chrysler Pacifica, the all-new for 2022 Kia Carnival (Kia would prefer you call it an MPV and not a minivan), and the all-new for 2021 Toyota Sienna. And they're all really, really good.
What sets the 2021 Toyota Sienna apart is that it is now a hybrid, powered by a combination of gasoline and electricity. Yes, you can get a hybrid Chrysler Pacifica, but that's a plug-in hybrid, which gives you 32 miles of pure electric range before switching to the gas/electric hybrid. That's a good thing, if you plug it in daily, which studies show Americans are really, really bad at doing. Beyond that, not all Chrysler Pacificas are hybrids and the one that is is a separate model starting at $44,920. All five of the 2021 Toyota Sienna trim levels, starting with the LE at $34,460, are hybrids. The Sienna's makes 245 horsepower. The transmission is a Continuously Variable (CVT) unit. The Sienna is 15 horsepower under the Chrysler, 35 horsepower under the Honda's output and 45 under the new Kia. The payoff comes in fuel economy, with an EPA estimate of 35 miles per gallon city/36 highway. That beats the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid's 30/30 (not counting the 32 miles of pure electric range), and handily tops the two gasoline-powered minivans, the Honda Odyssey at 19/28 and the Kia Carnival at 19/26.
The fold-flat third-row seats give the Sienna a huge cargo area when stowed---so big that two people could put sleeping bags back there and go camping (something made even more practical by our tester's optional ($300) 1500-watt inverter, allowing you to run household appliances like a toaster without draining the vehicle battery or flipping the circuit breaker on a lesser-wattage aftermarket inverter (learned that one the hard way a few years back).
But after folding the optional ($99) tri-fold cargo liner forward, the seats are easy to pull up and lock into place.
And pulling the third row upright and into service for passengers frees up their deep storage well, which then provides substantial storage itself.
The base price of the 2021 Toyota Sienna Limited AWD is $48,500. The window sticker is at the end of the review so you can see for yourself, but among the standard equipment highlights at that price are 18-inch wheels, a power tilt/sliding moonroof, a 12-speaker JBL premium audio system with navigation, leather-trimmed heated and ventilated front captain's chairs, sliding second-row captain's chairs with a long range of travel, wireless phone charging and four-zone automatic climate control.
Extra-cost options on our tester included the rear-seat entertainment center with 11.6-inch HD monitors, remote and two wireless headphones ($1,415), the aforementioned 1500-watt inverter ($300), a digital rearview mirror with HomeLink ($200), a rear bumper applique' ($69), the Preferred Accessory Package with carpeted floormats ($299), the aforementioned tri-fold cargo liner ($99) and another pair of wireless headphones ($100).
With $1,175 delivery processing and handling fee, the as-tested price of the 2021 Toyota Sienna Limited AWD is $52,152.
Toyota's new Sienna is competitive on every minivan metric, as are the new Kia Carnival, the refreshed for 2021 Honda Odyssey and the still-sharp-after-four-years Chrysler Pacifica. Each offers something the others don't. None disqualify themselves. This may be as competitive as it gets in automobiles.