Toyota Sienna: Best Car To Buy 2021 nominee

Redesigned for 2021, the Toyota Sienna now comes standard with a hybrid powertrain that gets an EPA-rated 36 mpg combined. That makes it far more efficient than any other minivan, including the 2021 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid when it runs out of electric juice. The Sienna still offers all-wheel drive, and it only lowers its efficiency by 1 mpg. 

Fuel economy alone could be enough to tilt shoppers away from other minivans and less practical three-row crossover SUVs. But excellent standard safety features, overall roominess, increased seating versatility, and sure-footed handling make the 2021 Toyota Sienna a compelling candidate for The Car Connection‘s Best Car To Buy 2021 award.

Restyled to look more like the 2021 Toyota Highlander but with supremely practical sliding doors, the Sienna flexes bulged rear haunches and a wide, steep lower grille cut from the same metal cloth. Inside, the Sienna seats up to eight passengers and the design focuses on function over form, with more storage areas in the center console, sides, and rear.

The hybrid powertrain doesn’t eat into cargo space, and second-row captain’s chairs can slide up to 25 inches to optimize leg room for both second- and third-row passengers. Two adults can easily fit in the third row, so hauling six adults or four adults and three kids in the wayback is far more comfortable and easy than in any three-row SUV. Additionally, the deep cargo area behind the third row fits 33.5 cubic feet of gear with a low load floor, and folding the 60/40 split third row into that deep bay creates a whopping 75.2 cubic feet of space behind the second row. It’s easy enough to do with one hand. The seat bottoms of the mid-row seats flip up to slide the whole seat flush with the front seats but those middle seats can no longer be removed.

2021 Toyota Sienna – first drive

2021 Toyota Sienna – first drive

2021 Toyota Sienna – first drive

2021 Toyota Sienna – first drive

The Sienna handles much like many crossover SUVs, despite its bulbous rear end, and available all-wheel drive creates more grip in bad weather. The 2.5-liter inline-4 pairs to a motor up front powered by a 1.9-kwh battery pack to make 245 horsepower. It strains under heavy throttle and can be loud, but in nearly every other circumstance it’s super quiet especially at low speeds when it’s powered solely by the electric motor or motors. With all-wheel drive for only $700 more, Toyota fits an additional motor on the rear axle that can provide up to 80% of driving force to the rear axle from a stop to prevent front wheel slip.

The 2021 Toyota Sienna hybrid is a deal, even with a starting price of $35,635. That’s due to its feature set, which includes such safety equipment as automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, and active lane control, plus convenience features like a 9.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto/Amazon Alexa compatibility. Options ranging from a built-in refrigerator to rear-seat entertainment systems outfit this family hauler like a luxury vehicle. 

Follow along as we crown The Car Connection’s Best Car To Buy 2021 on Jan. 4, and reveal the best vehicles in 15 categories to help you choose the best cars, trucks, and SUVs. Vote for our annual Driver’s Choice awards and tell us what you think is best in every category. We’ll also announce the winners from our sister sites, Motor Authority and Green Car Reports

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