A minivan is never the first thing that comes to mind when the question is posed: What car is the most likely candidate for a group of automotive journalists to jockey for? It is, however, the case. When you give us a minivan, we are immediately reminded of how much we appreciate a well-designed machine. That's exactly what our long-term Toyota Sienna did. Since its arrival in late May, it has been in almost constant motion, serving as the C/D long-term fleet's "family schlepper of the day," transporting people and goods.
If you didn't already know, the Sienna is getting a makeover for 2021, and while the grille proportions have been increased to the point of being comical, the most important news is the new powertrain: Siennas are all crossbred varieties. This modification resulted in a whopping 15 mpg improvement in the EPA combined metric for the people mover. Currently, front-wheel-drive Siennas achieve 36 mpg, while all-wheel-drive models, such as our long-termer, achieve a remarkable 35 mpg according to the Monroney label.
We requested a Cypress Green Sienna, which is a color that is only available on the top two trim levels of the Toyota Sienna. We decided on the penultimate Limited option. Although it costs less than $50,000 to get started, adding in the rear-seat entertainment ($1415), an AC power inverter ($300), a rearview mirror that can also display a video feed if your van is loaded to the gunwales ($200), a mini spare tire ($75), and $220 in all-weather floor mats brought the total cost to $51,885. Even though there are eight-passenger versions available, Limiteds only have seven seats, and those second-row captain's chairs are significantly more comfortable than the Stow 'n Go seats found in a Chrysler minivan.
In contrast to previous all-wheel-drive Siennas, the rear axle is directly driven by a motor in this model. As with other all-wheel-drive Toyota/Lexus hybrids, there is no driveshaft in this vehicle. There is no difference in power output between the front and all-wheel-drive models because the electric power is limited to the amount of power that the hybrid battery can generate. Initial testing revealed a 7.6-second time to 60 mph and a 15.7-second time to complete a quarter-mile in 15.7 seconds. That's pretty much how it feels. In comparison, a Honda Odyssey is 1.1 seconds faster, and the previous V-6-powered Sienna was also 1.1 seconds faster than the new one.
The switch to hybrid technology has at least paid off at the gas pump, with an average fuel economy of 32 mpg so far. That's a 39 percent improvement over the fuel economy we observed in our long-term 2018 Odyssey. We'd gladly accept the savings at the pump at the expense of some droning engine noises when the throttle is fully opened, just like most other families making a financial decision. Those come from the internal-combustion half of the hybrid powertrain, which is a 2.5-liter inline-four with the Atkinson cycle. With the Sienna moving down the highway and in cruise control, the engine hums quietly at just over sixty-five decibels.
We had a problem with the passenger sliding door right after the van arrived—a first-world problem, we know—and we had to take the Sienna to the dealer for an unscheduled service visit, which was very un-Toyota-like. According to our findings, the problem could have been easily resolved if the weather stripping had not become dislodged from its track and was performing an excellent impression of a child's digit. Two scheduled services have taken place since then, during which the Sienna has been in attendance. Both were standard maintenance items (oil, filter, and inspections) performed at 5000-mile intervals. The first was provided for free, but the 10-kilometer service was charged at a rate of $61.
Aside from that, the van has performed flawlessly. Some people have expressed dissatisfaction with the engine noise produced when accelerating. When driving through hilly terrain, the engine's droning becomes very noticeable. Furthermore, the van's driver-centric characteristics, such as brake and steering feel, are somewhat lacking. When there's a strong crosswind, the Sienna does tend to drift, but this is true of most seven-passenger SUVs.
As previously stated, the Sienna has been in nearly constant motion since it arrived, stopping in Maine, North Carolina, and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Perhaps this is due to an increase in road trips, or perhaps it is because we haven't had a van in a long time. However, it is a favorite among the team, and even if it did sit still long enough to collect moss, we would never know it because of its vibrant green color.
Months spent in the fleet: five months Mileage currently accumulated: 10,135 miles.
Fuel economy on average is 32 miles per gallon.
18-gallon fuel tank with an observed range of 570 miles on one tank of fuel
61 dollars for service Normal wear and tear: $0; normal repair: $0
Total Cost of Damage and Destruction: $0.
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