Curbside Newsstand: New 2021 Toyota Sienna and Venza – Hybrid Only

The Curbside Newsstand is opening up again, after a mandated Covid-19 shut down. And we have some pretty good news this morning: an all-new Toyota Sienna van (I refuse to call the current vans “minivans”, as they obviously aren’t) and the return of the Venza, a two row low-roof crossover, which is apparently the fastest growing sub-segment of that segment. These are clearly becoming the “sedan” of these modern times.

And Toyota has wisely chosen to give both of them essentially the same hybrid system as the only power train. It uses the 2.5 four and beefed up electric motors to deliver 243 hp in the Sienna and 222 hp in the Venza. Starting with the very hot RAV4 Hybrid, Toyota has focused on the increased performance potential of their hybrid system along with its efficiency. Good call.

The Sienna uses a variant of the Toyota New Global Architecture platform (TNGA-K), along with the RAV4, Highlander, Camry and Avalon. Toyota is estimating 33 mpg in the EPA combined rating, a whopping 12mpg improvement over the 2020 Sienna, and 3 mpg better than the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid when operating in combined gas/electric mode.

And there’s an AWD version, with an electric motor on the rear axle. And towing capacity is 3500 lbs. Now that 243 hp is 54 hp less than the current V6’s rating, but the instant torque of the electric motor(s) and the vastly improved efficiency will undoubtedly offset any complaints in that regard. A genuine 33mpg AWD van is a pretty appealing proposition, especially with the Toyota badge on it.

Can I change my mind now? I’m sorry, but a van without a walk through capability is almost a no-starter for me. Never mind just the feeling of openness in the front cabin. Do we really need consoles in vans?

And that console extends well into the second row. Built in soft drink dispenser?

Maybe not, but there are buttons for something. Is there a “Mommy” button?

I need to keep this short; you can find more news out there if you haven’t already. But it looks like the Sienna is very much back in the game.

The Venza returns, after its predecessor left in 2015 due to a lack of consistent interest. It did have a very cheap looking interior. Like the rest of the gang, this too rides on the TNGA-K platform, and also uses the same basic 2.5-based hybrid drive train.

It’s strictly a two-row vehicle, in a segment that was sparked initially by the Ford Edge. It comes standard with AWD, which uses an electric motor in the rear axle to provide additional traction as needed. It has the usual suite of safety hardware, and competitive infotainment features (I’m the wrong person to ask about the details).

I suspect Venza V2.0 will do better than V1.0. It’s competitive, and will offer as much as 40 mpg. The Venza returns with a Vengeance.