Running in fourth place in one of the auto industry's least sexy segments is not traditional real estate for Toyota.
But the Japanese automaker hopes to change that with the introduction this year of a redesigned Sienna minivan that will boast much improved creature comforts and a standard hybrid powertrain with estimated fuel economy of 33 mpg combined — a 57 percent gain over the current, nonhybridized model.
The 2021 Toyota Sienna, due in dealer showrooms late this year, was scheduled to be revealed at the New York auto show last month before the event was postponed because of the COVID-19 crisis. Instead, the fourth-generation Toyota minivan, along with the all-new Toyota Venza hybrid crossover, debuted Monday in an online live event.
Redesigned onto Toyota's flexible TNGA-K platform — which underpins vehicles as diverse as the Camry, RAV4 and Highlander — the newest Sienna receives much-needed styling and interior updates, as well as extra safety equipment and capabilities made possible by its first new platform in a decade.
Competing in a shrinking segment that is tiny compared with the torrent of alternatives — three-row crossovers — the Sienna seeks to borrow many of the attributes that drew families to large crossovers while keeping the sliding rear doors and roomier interior that once made minivans the king of people movers.
"This is an all-new vehicle from the ground up, including a new chassis platform as well as a new electrical platform," Sienna Chief Engineer Monte Kaehr said before Monday's reveal. "The development of the fourth-generation Sienna was a huge undertaking, but we always worked toward one single mission — to make the best van yet."