Lifestyle

Peters’ Garage: 2022 Toyota Sienna

By Eric Peters

What will it cost you to “save gas?”

The answer can be found by reviewing the specifications of the just-redesigned 2021 Toyota Sienna minivan, which now comes only as a hybrid, with the specifications of the previous Sienna, which came only with a V6.

What It Is

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The Sienna is a full-size minivan that seats seven to eight, depending on the configuration. It is also the only van in the class that no longer comes standard with — or even offers — a V6.

Instead, it comes standard with a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine paired with an electric motor and battery pack. This costs 51 horsepower versus last year’s V6, but the new Sienna averages 36 miles per gallon, making it the easiest-on-gas van in the class.

Base price is $34,460 for the LE trim configured for eight passengers with a second row bench. This amounts to about a $3k price bump from last year’s Sienna.

The $39,750 XLE is configured for seven with second row captain’s chairs. All trims can be equipped with all-wheel-drive, which gives the Toyota an advantage over its long-time primary rival — the Honda Odyssey — which comes only with front-wheel-drive.

A top-of-the-line Platinum trim with AWD stickers for $50,460.

What’s New

In addition to its new hybrid drivetrain, the Sienna gets revised exterior and interior styling with the most obvious changes being the flared rear fender haunches and a new-design center console integrated with (rather than separated from) the dashboard, with the gear selector relocated there from its former position built into the dashboard.

What’s Good

A mini-car mileage in a full-size minivan.

Twice-plus the range of an electric car — without the wait of the electric car.

More shelf storage than some homes have.

What’s Not So Good

Significant decrease in power/performance versus last year.

Less room for cargo than last year.

More expensive than last year.

Under The Hood

In place of the previously standard 3.5-liter V6, the new Sienna is powered by a 2.5-liter four, augmented by a partially electric secondary drivetrain, consisting of a battery pack and an electric motor that summons 50-something horsepower, increasing the total on-demand power to 245 horsepower and substantially decreasing the Sienna’s consumption of gasoline.

The new hybrid Sienna averages 36 MPG.

In city and highway driving. Last year’s V6 Sienna averaged about 23 because it only got 19 MPG in city driving and 26 on the highway.

The mileage gains are without question considerable.

But they come at a cost.

The new hybrid Sienna is much less powerful than its predecessor. It is down 50-something horsepower versus last year, and that can be felt every time you push down on the accelerator pedal. The hybrid Sienna needs about eight seconds to get to 60 MPH, which is about a second slower to 60 than last year’s V6-powered Sienna.

On The Road

The new Sienna hybrid can be driven — with a light foot — up to about 20 MPH and for about a mile as if it were an electric minivan, which it is.

At least part-time.

The gas side shuts off when you’re not moving and when you’re coasting — and this is how you average 36 MPG in a 4,600 lb., seven to eight passenger minivan.

It’s also how you keep going for more than 600 miles — something no full-time electric vehicle is capable of doing. And because the Sienna recharges itself using the little four cylinder gas engine as a generator as well as a source of motive power, you only have to stop for long enough to feed it more gas, which takes a lot less time than feeding an electric vehicle juice.

At The Curb

The new Sienna’s looks are much less radical than its mechanicals. There are differences, including the rabbit hips over each of the rear wheels and a less boxy profile from the side, but they aren’t obvious enough to call attention to themselves, unless you’re looking for them.

The big differences beyond the mechanicals are inside.

Though the new van is about the same size as the old van and still seats seven to eight, according to which seating configuration you select — it has less room behind its third row (down to 33.5-cubic feet from the previous 39.1-cubic feet) and with both its second and third rows stowed (down to 101 cubic feet from 150, previously).

The reason for that being the battery pack and electric motor, which had to be put somewhere.

This costs the Sienna a sales point relative to roomier (for cargo, at least) non-hybrid rivals such as the Honda Odyssey, which has 155.7 cubic feet of total capacity and 38.6 cubic feet behind its third row. The Chrysler Pacifica and the new Kia Carnival also have considerably more total cargo capacity: 140.5 and 145.1 cubic feet, respectively.

The Rest

You can get things such as captain’s chairs with extendable footrests and an excellent 12 speaker JBL audio rig, but similar things are available in rival vans.

The one thing the Sienna has that most of them don’t even offer is the hybrid layout — excepting the Pacifica, which is available with the hybrid layout. But the Pacifica hybrid costs so much, $46,145 to start, and its mileage is so poor (it only averages 30 MPG) that the Sienna doesn’t have much to sweat from it as a potential rival.

The Bottom Line

One thing’s for sure about the new Sienna. It is different.

Whether for better or worse for Toyota, the market will decide.

View the Toyota Siennathis week.

Eric’s latest book, “Doomed: Good Cars Gone Wrong” will be available soon. To find out more about Eric and read his past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2021 CREATORS.COM

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