2021 Toyota Sienna revealed: A hybrid minivan you'll actually want

Toyota has pulled the wraps off the new 2021 Sienna, and if you thought minivans couldn't be striking – and fuel efficient – then think again. All-new in its fourth-generation, the revamped van will only be offered as a hybrid, with Toyota estimating a whopping 33 mpg is possible.

That's a huge step up from the current 2020 Sienna, which is rated for just 22 mpg combined. To do it, Toyota turned to its TNGA-K platform and a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. To that, it added two electric motors.

It's not a plug-in hybrid, unlike the Chrysler Pacifica, and which Toyota is counting on being a plus with busy families. The powertrain is rated for 243 horsepower, with extra low-end torque from the electric motors. It'll offer EV, Normal, Eco, and Sport modes, running the gamut from maximum frugality, electric-only driving, and the most performance.

A new sequential shifting feature will replicate downshifting with a traditional gearbox, loading up on regenerative braking for when you're cruising downhill or generally slowing. All-wheel drive will be optional, using an electronic system. Unlike the previous, mechanical Sienna AWD, this 2021 version will ditch the transfer case and driveshaft to the rear wheels. It'll be replaced with a separate independent electric motor dedicated to the rear wheels, a system which allows the Sienna hybrid to do AWD whereas the 2021 Pacifica AWD can't use Chrysler's hybrid system.

Torque will be adjustable, from 100-percent at the front normally, to 80-percent rear bias depending on traction needs. Toyota says the system will also cut down on overseer, and automatically push more power to the rear wheels when pulling away from a standstill to prevent front wheel slip. The Sienna is rated to tow up to 3,500 pounds.

Outside, there's a distinct change in style. Toyota says the 2021 Sienna is inspired by the Shinkansen Japanese Bullet Train, with flared wheel arches and heavy sculpting to the bodywork. The lights are mounted higher than on the outgoing minivan, and stretch around to the sides as though swept by speedy driving. LED fog lamps are included, too, as are LED rear lights.

There'll be a 2021 Sienna XSE trim, with 20-inch split 5 spoke wheels with a dark finish, along with exclusive front and rear bumper styling.

Inside, there's a new "Bridge Console" mounted high up between the front seats. That raises the transmission shifter, as well as the cup holders and a storage bin. It's also where the optional Qi wireless charger is found.

Super Long Slide second-row captain chairs are optional too, with a 25-inch adjustable slide. Sienna LE and select XLE trims get eight seats as standard; some XLE, along with XSE, Limited, and Platinum trims get seven seats, with the Super Long Slide seats. Limited and Platinum FWD trims get ottomans, and every trim beyond LE has heated front seats as standard.

There are seven USB ports and up to 18 cup holders. WiFi is available, as is a JBL 1,200 watt audio system and a Drive Easy Speak in-car PA system to communicate with the third row. Privacy glass is standard from the rear windows back, and there's an optional camera-based rear view mirror, and an optional 360-degree camera with curb view. The 2021 Sienna Platinum gets a 10-inch color head-up display, while all trims have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 (TSS 2.0) is standard across all trims, with features like adaptive cruise control, lane departure alerts with steering assistance, and pre-collusion with pedestrian detection. Blind spot monitoring is also standard on all trims. There are ten airbags, and lane trace assistant.

Power sliding doors are standard across the range, with XLE trim and above getting hands-free opening and a power tailgate. Three-zone climate control is standard on the LE; XLE and above upgrades that to four-zone. Limited and Platinum trims get leather front seats with ventilation, power, and memory.

A vacuum is standard on the Limited and Platinum, and the latter also gets a refrigerator too. A power moonroof is optional on the LE and standard on trims above that. XLE, XSE, Limited, and Platinum trims get front and rear parking sensors; the Platinum adds the bird's eye view camera.

Sales of the 2021 Toyota Sienna will kick off toward the end of 2020. Toyota hasn't announced pricing yet; that will follow on, closer to the minivan's arrival in US dealerships.