You’re looking at the 2021 Toyota Sienna – or, if you’re of an optimistic bent, a perfectly reasonable Tarago replacement.
After the long running Tarago people-mover pulled up stumps in Australia (as did its Japanese-market Estima equivalent) to be replaced by the HiAce-based Granvia with its hospitality industry-skew, a gap opened up in Toyota’s range.
There was certainly no shortage of fleet, rental and corporate clients for the Tarago who can just as easily move to the Granvia, but the new model’s bulk doesn’t make it ideal for family use on suburban streets and its diesel engine might dissuade those buyers who are prepared to deal with its heft.
There is an answer, however, in the form of the Sienna. In the North American market the Sienna has served generations of families, stepping up to the plate where the Previa (a twin to Australia’s egg-shaped second-gen Tarago) left off in the late 1990s.
Underpinned by Toyota’s latest large front-wheel-drive platform (dubbed GA-K), the Sienna only comes with one available engine, a 2.5-litre petrol electric hybrid, and has plenty in common with cars like the Camry, RAV4 and next-generation Kluger.
While it may not pack the punch of the old Tarago V6, the Sienna hybrid should be able to deliver trim fuel bills with a decent official fuel use claim of 7.1L/100km.
The hybrid platform’s flexibility also makes it possible to offer front- or all-wheel drive, with an eFour AWD system adding electric propulsion to the rear axle.
Toyota claims a decent 181kW combined output for the hybrid system, making it more powerful than the RAV4's current 163kW maximum in all-wheel-drive form.
The hybrid drivetrain also features Predictive Efficient Drive which can learn commonly driven routes and predict when and where the vehicle is likely to slow down or stop. The system then has the smarts to help reduce energy consumption in hilly or congested areas by optimising efficiency to match.
Styling evolves some of the details seen on the previous Sienna, but takes on a more sculpted appearance with particular attention given to the volume of the wheel arches and exaggerated sill and lower door area to create a look that moves away from the typical slabiness of MPVs and offers some appeal to SUV buyers.
That'll explain the canyon-side dirt road press shots, then.
There’s some link to other Toyota products too, with Camry-esque details in the front bumper and faux-vented tail light extensions. Unlike the new Kluger, however, the Sienna sticks with sliding rear doors and provides a lower step-in height.
If sporty styling suits your brood, a new XSE trim level joins the range with a more aggressive front bumper, mesh-look bumper inserts front and rear, black mirror, roof rails, sill extensions and dark-finished 20-inch alloy wheels.
A less wild-looking Platinum trim is also available with a somewhat calmer external appearance, plus three-tone interior trim, a high-rise faux-wood ‘bridge console’, stitched leather-look dash and doors, perforated leather seat trim and more, befitting its plush positioning.
A total of five different trim levels are offered, and depending on model available features include 1200-watt JBL premium audio, 1080p HD 11.6-inch rear entertainment screen, 7 USB ports, 18 cup holders, digital rear view mirror, 360-degree camera view, 10-inch head-up display, 9.0-inch infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa compatibility, gesture-controlled power sliding doors, four-zone climate control, heated rear captains chairs with ottomans, power-adjustable steering column and steering wheel heating, plus a built-in refrigerator and vacuum cleaner.
As with other cars built on the Toyota New Generation Architecture, the Sienna’s safety and driver assist equipment is comprehensive with traffic sign recognition, all-speed active cruise control, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane trace assist, lane departure alert with steering assist, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and 10 airbags.
Will the Toyota Sienna come to Australia?
Rather surprisingly, instead of the usual flat ‘no’ or 'no comment' we’d usually get when asking about a car like the Sienna, a Toyota Australia spokesperson left the door slightly ajar to a local introduction.
“We are continually revising our model line-up, however there are currently no plans to bring the Sienna to Australia and would also not rule out its introduction in the future, if a strong-enough business case can be built for it," the spokesperson said.
While that’s still most of the ‘not coming’ answer we expected, there’s a trace element of never say never.
Helping the Sienna’s case along ever so slightly is its production line in Princetown, Indiana. The same factory builds the next-generation Kluger, due in Australia early next year, will come from – potentially easing the logistics of sourcing the new model.
Less helpful is that other right-hand-drive (RHD) markets, like Thailand and the UK, don’t have their hand up for the Sienna. While the platform beneath is already RHD compatible, the low-volumes of the Australian market, along with fierce competition from the likes of Kia’s Carnival, make difficult work of getting the numbers to add up for a new people mover in Australia.
Click any of the photos to reveal more images in the gallery. Let us know in the comments if you think the Toyota Sienna would be a good fit for Australia