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  • Writer's pictureCory Fourniquet

Family Hauler to Fit All Lifestyles

This week, Japanese automaker Toyota announced a couple new products via their virtual showcase in lieu of in in-person launch. The first of which was a crossover, the 2021 Venza. The second of their announcements was also of the family-hauler variety in the next generation of their Sienna minivan.

We have many interesting viewpoints on the purpose, cool-factor, and place in the automotive landscape of the minivan. Having each grown up with one in their family's histories, Matt & Cory both have fond and embarrassing memories of these family haulers.

While they are the quintessential roadtrip-mobiles, the stigma behind these laughing stocks of the automotive world since Chrysler introduced the segment in 1984.

Today they are viewed as the hunchback of vehicles. The punishment for starting a family. An embarrassment for the driver as well as the kids being chauffeured in the back. They are the reason SUVs and crossovers are so popular today. As millennial ditch the minivans of their childhoods for the rough-and-tumble, go-anywhere lifestyle the crossover embodies.

Toyota has been on the forefront of the fight against this misconception over the years. They famously introduced the "Swagger Wagon" ad campaign with their last major refresh of the Sienna. A hip-hop parent-led music video singing the praises and great features of their new family friendly whip.

Fast forward to May of 2020 and we get a new take on this fight against the negative minivan stigma.

Aiming to redefine the segment, the fourth generation Toyota Sienna reimagines the minivan to support a wider array of life stages and activities.  With a standard hybrid powertrain now across all trims and an array of new tech and amenities, the 2021 Toyota Sienna raises the bar for style, safety, comfort, versatility and fuel efficiency in its segment.

Toyota claims the 2021 Sienna is fit to suit a variety of lifestyles, indeed the picture above of roof rack and bike carriers in the desert evokes a youthful mindset.

Much like the 2021 Venza crossover, the Sienna has been #Hybridified. All models will be equipped with a 2.5L DOHC 4-cylinder engine paired to two electric motors for a total system output of 243 hp and Toyota-estimated 33 mpg, a benchmark for the segment. A new feature, stolen from the aforementioned Venza, is the available electric on-demand AWD featuring a third electric motor in the rear to power you out of slippery situations without the drag of mechanical linkages to rob MPG.

Designed, engineered, and assembled in the U.S., claims to be influenced by the very segment of SUVs stealing buyers away from minivans in droves, but has stolen some of their innovative tech along the way, such as kick-to-open sliding doors & tailgate. Other features include a segment-first power tilt-telescope heated steering wheel, digital rear view mirror, 10 inch color heads up display, and 12-speaker JBL audio system.

Helping stake its claim as the king of roadtrip vehicles, the new Sienna's second row also features 4 zone climate, heated seats with super long slide captain's chairs with ottomans, as well as an onboard refrigerator.

The 2021 Toyota Sienna is also ready for life’s outdoor adventures with its all-wheel drive option – and is well-positioned for Yakima® accessories, such as a rooftop carrier, cross bars, bike rack and more. The Sienna will also offer an available tow hitch and factory optional 1,500-watt inverter with 120V AC outlet to power camping equipment.
What’s more, all versions of the 2021 Sienna are rated to tow up to 3,500 pounds. That’s enough to pull a well-equipped compact travel trailer, or simply carry your bikes for that weekend getaway.

Toyota was careful to make sure owners did not feel as though they were driving a bus, a design mission that can be clearly seen when looking at the mug on the front of this thing. Love it or hate it styling has become the name of the game with Toyota's in-your-face grilles in their vehicles lately (have you seen an Avalon lately?)

The interior of this rig is what shines, and why you would buy a minivan in the first place. They are giant caves for people and stuff. Getting in and out is a breeze too, through those large sliding doors and low step in height. Toyota claims that "many" Sienna buyers are repeat customers, and there is a lot to like in the new model. Much like the Venza, the Sienna hosts a large touchscreen in the middle of the dashboard, flowing down into their new bridge design separating the driver and passenger with easy to reach controls, storage, and cup holders above a cave of a storage opening.

We could go on and on about all the safety features, of which there are many, as well as new features and designs in the 2021 Sienna, but we will let you give your thoughts and opinions down below or on our social media platforms. We at Garage Talk love them for their long-haul capabilities, but neither of us would ever go out and buy one.

You can hear our thoughts in our podcast episode focusing on the news of this new model, or read more about it from Toyota themselves by clicking here.

Until next time, bye!

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