Whither the minivan? As buyers abandon these former road staples for crossovers, the segment has dwindled to just a few primary competitors. The Honda Odyssey and Chrysler Pacifica both underwent recent renovations in order to better serve what minivan buyers remain, in addition to trying to bring some new folks into the fold.
But now, it’s time for the completely redesignedto stand atop the pile as the newest entry. While we’re still waiting on the nitty-gritty details like headroom and wheelbase, Toyota did roll out a number of factoids on the new Sienna that has us wondering how it’ll stack up against the Odyssey and Pacifica. So, uh, let’s see how that goes.
2021 Toyota Sienna was inspired by Japanese bullet trains
The idea of a hybrid minivan isn’t new, as Chrysler already has its plug-in Pacifica Hybrid. But Toyota damn near leapfrogged the entire industry with the announcement that every 2021 Sienna will pack hybrid power. Electric motors work with a 2.5-liter I4 gas engine to produce a net 243 horsepower. The Odyssey still rocks a regular ol’ V6, while Pacifica buyers get the choice of a V6 or the aforementioned PHEV getup.
Then there’s the matter of all-wheel drive. Unlike Siennas past, which used to be the only model available with AWD, this is an “electronic” all-wheel drive system that merely adds an electric motor to the rear axle, instead of slapping a bunch of complex, heavy mechanicals down there. Up to 80% of the motive force can be sent rearward to maintain traction. The refreshed 2021 Pacifica gets all-wheel drive, too, but it’s a mechanical system that requires slightly more ride height. It will also be offered on a small number of pre-refresh 2020 Pacificas.
|Chrysler Pacifica||3.6-liter V6||287 hp||262 lb-ft||9-speed auto|
|Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid||3.6-liter V6 PHEV||260 hp (net)||N/A||CVT|
|Honda Odyssey||3.5-liter V6||280 hp||262 lb-ft||10-speed auto|
|Toyota Sienna||2.5-liter I4 hybrid||243 hp (net)||N/A||CVT|
Don’t buy another crossover, get a Honda Odyssey instead
The 2021 Sienna’s standard hybrid powertrain, as you might expect, translates well to expected fuel economy figures. While we will probably not hear from the EPA for some time still, Toyota estimates the new Sienna will achieve 33 miles per gallon combined, meaning the highway figure is likely even higher.
By comparison, the Honda Odyssey’s single powertrain configuration is EPA-estimated at 19 mpg city, 28 mpg highway and 22 combined — as a matter of fact, that’s also what the EPA rates the Chrysler Pacifica’s V6 fuel economy, giving the Sienna a pretty hefty advantage. The Pacifica Hybrid is slightly less thirsty, with the EPA estimating 30 mpg combined on the gas engine alone. With its lithium-ion battery providing 32 miles of electric-only operation, the Pacifica Hybrid’s MPG equivalent lands at 82 MPGe.
|Chrysler Pacifica||19 mpg||28 mpg||22 mpg|
|Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid||N/A||N/A||30 mpg (gas)|
|Honda Odyssey||19 mpg||28 mpg||22 mpg|
|Toyota Sienna||N/A||N/A||33 mpg (est.)|
Toyota hasn’t delivered all of the 2021 Sienna’s dimensions yet — cargo capacity, or even a rough estimate of it, is notably absent — but the automaker did deliver a few basic exterior figures for comparison’s sake. The new Sienna is still pretty closely sized to the current competition. In sporty XSE guise, it’ll be the longest minivan by a couple tenths of an inch, but other trims bring the Sienna even closer to segment parity — its height also varies depending on whether or not roof rails are counted. The Pacifica is the girthiest of the three by a full inch, and it’s also the king of wheelbase. The Sienna’s wheel-to-wheel length slots between the Pacifica and Odyssey, which means its interior capacities should be pretty competitive, as well, whenever Toyota sees fit to divulge those specs.
|Chrysler Pacifica||203.8 in||79.6 in||69.9 in||121.6 in|
|Honda Odyssey||203.2 in||78.5 in||69.6 in||118.1 in|
|Toyota Sienna||203.7 – 204.1 in||78.5 in||68.5 – 70.0 in||120.5 in|
You didn’t think Toyota would stop its onslaught at the powertrain, did you? As expected, Toyota shoved everything short of the kitchen sink into the 2021 Sienna. There are seven USB ports, up to 18 cup holders, an available Wi-Fi hotspot and a microphone system to beam the driver’s voice to the third row. The second-from-base trim, the LE, rocks tech like a 9-inch touchscreen infotainment system withand , and the features only pile on from there, with higher grades adding a JBL premium audio system and embedded navigation. The Platinum trim also picks up a standard 10-inch head-up display, as well as a surround-view camera. There’s also a 1080p rear entertainment system on offer.
Both the Odyssey and Pacifica offer Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well, and the 2021 Pacifica will finally make wireless CarPlay available. The Chrysler’s new Uconnect 5 system occupies a larger screen (10.1 inches versus Toyota’s 9.0), and it will offer up to a dozen USB-A and USB-C ports, just a few more than Toyota will make available. There’s also a new FamCam interior monitor that can zoom in on troublemakers in the third row, which is maybe a little Big Brother but necessary if your little ones like getting into things. As for the Honda, it rocks a smaller, 8-inch display, but you get other par-for-the-course accouterments like phone mirroring, embedded microphones and cameras, as well as a Blu-ray player for rear passengers.
Safety is important, too. The 2021 Sienna will come standard with automatic emergency braking, full-speed adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, blind spot monitoring and automatic high beams. Honda limits its full safety suite to EX trims and above, while the 2021 Pacifica will offer nearly the same safety package as Toyota across all its trims. Most of that stuff is also available on the current 2020 Pacifica, but it’s a $995 option, which is actually pretty aggressively priced.
2021 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle AWD out-luxes your minivan
Speaking of cash money, Toyota hasn’t yet said how much the 2021 Sienna will cost when it goes on sale later this year. It’s not obscene to think that all these improvements will likely raise the Sienna’s window sticker above its current price range, which starts at $32,760 including destination and stretches to $49,175 for the Limited Premium, but nothing is set in stone yet. For comparison, the Pacifica ranges from about $35,000 to $50,000. The Honda can reach that high, too, but its starting price is closer to $32,000.
|Base price||Destination charge|
|Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid||$39,995||$1,495|
|Toyota Sienna||$34,000 (est.)||N/A|