Both these models will be sold as hybrids-only

I’ve considered hybrids to be the perfect stopgap between internal combustion engine cars and electric vehicles. The majority of the people are still skeptical to switch to pure EVs and hybrid vehicles help you adapt to it very well. Not all automakers have taken hybrid technology very seriously, but Toyota is one company that has diligently worked on it and delivered quality products.

The company launched two vehicles this week. One is the 2021 model of its minivan, the Sienna, and the other one is the resurrected Venza SUV. What makes these models special is that they will be available only with a hybrid powertrain. Will these vehicles succeed in their new-found avatars?

What’s New In The 2021 Sienna?

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The Sienna’s sales were plummeting, and Toyota had to figure a way out before it became irrelevant.

To drop the V-6 and convert it into a hybrid-only minivan is a brave move on the company’s part.

Not to mention, the design is more fluid and bold than it ever was. The minivan looks a lot more premium and sharp, and this might be the company’s way of making it an attractive package over the sedate looks of the outgoing models.

Toyota Debuts The New Sienna and The Resurrected-Venza Interior
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The new Sienna is longer and wider than the present model and will continue to be offered in seven- and eight-seat configurations.

In terms of safety, Toyota has added side airbags in the Sienna, but this comes at the cost of practicality. Being a minivan, many people will use it to haul luggage and stuff, but the new Sienna’s second-row can’t be removed anymore due to the seat-mounted side airbags. Will this turn out to be a deal-breaker for potential customers?

The Fuel Efficiency Is Increased Significantly

Toyota Debuts The New Sienna and The Resurrected-Venza Exterior
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The company has finally migrated the Sienna to the TNGA architecture that also underpins most of the other Toyota models. The Japanese automaker has eliminated the V-6 mill and plonked in a four-cylinder hybrid powertrain instead. The 2.5-liter, four-cylinder mill is paired with two electric motors and produce 243 ponies combined. This is 53 horses less than the 3.5-liter, V-6 mill that made 296 horses and 263 pound-feet of torque. However, this compromise in power is rewarded with a significant improvement in the fuel economy. The 2021 Sienna Hybrid’s economy is now rated at 33 mpg, a jump of 12 mpg over the internal combustion engine.

Toyota Debuts The New Sienna and The Resurrected-Venza Exterior
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Mind you, this isn’t a plug-in hybrid model. The batteries recuperate on the go and cannot be plugged into a socket for charging. The Sienna will be offered as an all-wheel-drive minivan, and along with this, Toyota will also offer an optional setup that includes a third electric motor that powers the rear wheels. More details about this should follow soon. As for the tow rating, the Sienna will still tow 3,500 pounds as before.

Two New Trims Added To The Lineup

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The 2021 Sienna will be offered with a new sporty XSE trim and top Platinum trim. The LE, XLE, and Limited trims will be carried over as well. The XSE receives the standard sporty treatment, such as dark-finished wheels (20 inches in this case), sharper bumpers, etc. As for the range-topping Platinum trim, it will feature stuff like a 360-degree camera, a head-up display, a refrigerated compartment, and even an onboard vacuum cleaner. Other things offered include:

  • Rear Entertainment System
  • Power Sliding Doors and Liftgate
  • In-car Wi-Fi
  • Four-zone Climate Control
  • 18 Cupholders
  • Seven USB Ports

The pricing is yet to be announced, but the Sienna might start around $30,000 and go all the way up to $50,000. Toyota said that it will hit the dealerships by the end of 2020.

What Can We Expect From The 2021 Venza?

Toyota Debuts The New Sienna and The Resurrected-Venza Exterior
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Speaking of the Venza, Toyota has revived this moniker after half-a-decade.

The Venza was retired from Toyota’s lineup in 2015 due to plunging sales, but has surprisingly made a comeback in the same role.

The new Venza will be sold as a two-row SUV and will slot between the compact RAV4 and the larger Highlander. The Venza is based on the Toyota Harrier that’s sold in the Japanese market. The automaker also said that the Venza badge will be America-exclusive.

Just like the Sienna, the 2021 Venza, too, is based on the TNGA architecture and will be sold as a hybrid-only model. The 2.5-liter, four-cylinder mill does the duties here as well, but it will be paired with three electric motors – two at the front and one on the rear axle. Power will be sent to all the wheels. This setup will churn out 219 horses combined. Toyota claims an EPA rating of 40 miles per gallon on the new Venza, which is the same as the RAV4 hybrid’s rating. This should draw a lot of attention and make the SUV look desirable.

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The wheelbase measures the same 105.9 inches as the RAV4, but the Venza is over five inches longer than its sibling. We wouldn’t expect extra legroom here, but even the cargo area is compromised. It measures 36 cubic-feet, which is two cubic-feet less than the RAV4’s. Blame the battery pack for this. The other interior dimensions are also the same as the RAV4.

Plusher Than The RAV4

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The 2021 Venza will be sold in three trims – LE, XLE, Limited. The differentiating factor comes in the form of the feature-list.

The Venza, in its range-topping trim, is loaded to the gill in terms of creature comforts.

You get stuff like a digital rearview mirror, a 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system, a head-up display, and a panoramic glass roof with a ‘frost control’ feature that can switch between opaque and transparent. A power liftgate, 18-inch wheels, and so on will be offered as standard.

Will It Eat Into The RAV4 And Highlander’s Sales?

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The pricing is not revealed yet, but the Venza could start in the ballpark of $35,000. Toyota is expecting to move around 50,000 examples annually. This is an ambitious prediction considering that in its first stint that lasted eight years, the Venza breached the 50,000 sales figure just once. And, the fact that it sits between the RAV4 and the Highlander could result in cannibalization. It looks Toyota is happy as long as the customer purchases from the same showroom. It will go on sale from August 2020.

What are your thoughts on the 2021 Sienna and the Venza? Share them with us in the comments section below.

Sidd Dhimaan
Associate Editor and Truck Expert - sidd@topspeed.com
Sidd joined the Topspeed.com team in 2017 as an intern and in less than a year he earned a full-time position as an associate editor and junior automotive expert. He is currently our pickup truck expert and focuses his attention on heavy-duty and off-road vehicles.  Read More
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