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Hi,
We've had my wife's new 2021 Platinum AWD (first one in our state) with I think almost every option available for about a week now. Here are some first impressions and also some questions for the group:

Pros:
  • The hybrid drive system seems really good overall. I like the EV Mode button for parking lots and carpool lines. Right now we're getting mid-20's MPG wise, but we live in a very hilly area and the car if far from broken in. I'm sure we'll get 35-36 MPG once it's broken in on more "standard" roads.
  • We got the Blizzard Pearl with the Brown interior of course (only option for Platinum). Both look fantastic.
  • Having Apple CarPlay is awesome, and we really like all the camera views and even the rear view mirror LCD thing is cool.
  • We also got the 1500 W inverter, but have no clue how/when we'll use it.
  • The car seems to have more than enough power, is fast off the line, and is fast on the 4cyl if and when you need it to be.
  • And the AWD seems to work really well overall.
  • Overall, the overall functionality of the interior, styling of the exterior, and overall feel/quality of the car are 10/10.

Cons:
  • The infotainment system seems pretty old and slow. Evidentially they didn't put in the newest model that they have in the Highlanders, which is odd.
  • When using the rear view mirror LCD, you can't rely at all on it for backing up (it's zoomed in way too much which makes sense for normal driving though). So you have to force yourself to ignore it, swap it to regular mirror mode, or just use the backup camera.
  • The rear entertainment system is really odd. There are 3 options - 2 of which require vague apps to "stream" your phone to. Neither of them worked for us or the dealer, so we gave up on those and just purchased a 10' HDMI cord and a HDMI to Apple Lightening adapter.
  • I also wish Apple CarPlay was wireless, but purchased a 7" USB to Apple Lightening cord which seems to work perfectly so there aren't cords everywhere - it's just long enough to go from USB to where your iPhone lay's on the wireless charger.
  • I understand why 18" wheels are needed for the AWD model, but really wish they had stuck with the 20's for AWD Platinum. Safety comes first, so it's good to have that extra tread when the AWD is needed. But the 18's do look a little small IMO.
  • This one was a bit of a surprise - when you really hit the gas to go up a hill, the 4cyl engine is really loud (like you need to turn up the radio loud) when it's really revving (which you cannot see because there is no RPMs). I would have expected them to add more sound deadening than they did. For normal driving not going up a big hill, it's not an issue though.
  • This is a big one - we know that the Fridge and Vacuum were supposed to be in the Platinum and it's certainly a let-down for them not to be there. But we probably wouldn't have used them a ton, but it's still bitter sweet paying for a Platinum but not getting those. Maybe Toyota will make it up to us 2021 Platinum owners one day, but I won't be holding my breath!

Overall:
  • We compared it to a pre-2021 that our friend has this afternoon and it's Night and Day. It truly makes every pre-2021 owner jealous - the styling, features, quality, look, feel, etc. It's a MAJOR jump up to the 2021 and overall we're really pleased now that we've gotten some of the tech issues ironed out (and a lot of cords/adapters purchased from Amazon).

Final Questions:
  • On the infotainment system, I can't seem to get Apple Car Play on the Home Screen (I can find it on Menu) so we can just press it upon startup screen. When I go to Customize Home Screen, it isn't a choice for some reason. We have to press Menu, then Apple Car Play which seems odd. Anyone know how to fix this?
  • On the Camera View (comes on automatically when you slow down below 5mph) looking toward the Front, there is a weird Gray Area (think of the middle of a M where the top middle upside down V is semi-transparent Gray) in the center of the image (maybe where they stitched two camera images together) that gets on my nerves. The Gray Area is transparent, so you can see that the camera isn't bad in that area. I'm not sure why they did this, but wish I could get rid of it.

Here's a quick pic from this afternoon:
47838
 

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Thank you so much. This is a great write-up/review. I agree with everything you said based on my very brief experience with this gorgeous vehicle.

I also compared 2021 model (XLE, which was the only trim dealer had) with the 2021 Highlander XLE and 2020 Sienna XLE (brand new at the dealer) and I fell in love with the 2021 Sienna. It is, just like you said, night and day difference.

I wished they had left the engine at 3.5 V6 but I am equally happy with the wonderful fuel economy of the hybrid engine.

Also, you are correct about the sound insulation. If I get this vehicle, I know I will be installing sound deadening material to make it quieter, but then again I like my vehicles to be very quiet so that is kinda subjective.

Thank you for the write up and enjoy it in good health.
 

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you mentioned about the only 18" wheels on all of the new AWD siennas for safety reasons , is it possible to have the stock 20" wheels put on any of the AWD 2021 siennas ? would it affect the AWD drive system if so what will happen ?or is it ok to put it on the 20" as some other mention it should be the same measurements just the ride might not be comfortable ! anyone have a clear answer for that ?
 

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Thanks for the comments. One of the reasons I think I’m now waiting for the 2022 Sedona is because it has Wireless CarPlay, and a better, more functional overall infotainment. It’s possible in a few years it will have a plug hybrid version as well. No AWD though. Glad you are satisfied with what you got.
 

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I'm waiting for more replies about the power/uphill/noise etc... (and I agree it would be nice to have a tach)... because I am going to tow a small (3000 #) camper. Thanks!
 

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I'm waiting for more replies about the power/uphill/noise etc... (and I agree it would be nice to have a tach)... because I am going to tow a small (3000 #) camper. Thanks!
On the 7" MFD between the speedometer and hybrid gauge there is an option that will allow you to display a tach - this is on the Limited and Platinum Trims.
 

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you mentioned about the only 18" wheels on all of the new AWD siennas for safety reasons , is it possible to have the stock 20" wheels put on any of the AWD 2021 siennas ? would it affect the AWD drive system if so what will happen ?or is it ok to put it on the 20" as some other mention it should be the same measurements just the ride might not be comfortable ! anyone have a clear answer for that ?
Yes, it won’t affect the AWD if it’s near the same diameter. The question is asked a lot and I feel Toyota put 18s on it for more sidewall when off pavement and larger selection of regular and snow tires. I can’t think of any mass produced vehicle that won’t let you put in any wheel and tire that fits
 

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On the 7" MFD between the speedometer and hybrid gauge there is an option that will allow you to display a tach - this is on the Limited and Platinum Trims.
I looked a few times but still can't figure out how to display Tach on 7" MFD. How did you get to it? Help please! Ours is Platinum.
 

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Actually, they have changed this a bit from prior vehicles with the 7" MFD, the tachometer is now a display option on the HUD (Platinum Only) - see page 120 of the owners manual under "HUD Driving Support".
 

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Actually, they have changed this a bit from prior vehicles with the 7" MFD, the tachometer is now a display option on the HUD (Platinum Only) - see page 120 of the owners manual under "HUD Driving Support".
Aha! Thanks! I had thought about searching the PDF manual. but forgot and went ahead and asked it anyway :(
 

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Any suggestions for driving the 2021 uphill? Do I need to put in sport mode? It seems to struggle?

I'm waiting for more replies about the power/uphill/noise etc... (and I agree it would be nice to have a tach)... because I am going to tow a small (3000 #) camper. Thanks!

I finally drove over to what can be somewhat called an uphill, a 270degrees on-ramp that got pretty good incline. I felt ours struggle as I saw the car in front of me pull away farther and farther on the uphill turn. Some other modest low grade hills on interstate made me look at the speedometer too. Next time, I will try the sport mode to see if it behaves any different.

Overall:

Was I annoyed with the struggles? Yes.
IMHO, You will find yourself in right lanes in mountainous areas more often than you might like, just ahead of sluggish semis. Or may be even behind a semi on four lane uphills because you ain't going to quickly pop into passing lane to get around the semi in-front of you, and come back to the right. The engine whine doesn't help in this situation either. (Btw, most of the noise seem to come from driver side dashboard and foot paddle area. May be they need more noise insulation there? The engine is off center towards the passenger so I wonder if it is the light insulation in front driver firewall that is letting the noise thru.)

Would I still buy the same car again? Double Yes Considering the whole package. This thing is practically a half a school bus ;)
 

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I finally drove over to what can be somewhat called an uphill, a 270degrees on-ramp that got pretty good incline. I felt ours struggle as I saw the car in front of me pull away farther and farther on the uphill turn. Some other modest low grade hills on interstate made me look at the speedometer too. Next time, I will try the sport mode to see if it behaves any different.

Overall:

Was I annoyed with the struggles? Yes.
IMHO, You will find yourself in right lanes in mountainous areas more often than you might like, just ahead of sluggish semis. Or may be even behind a semi on four lane uphills because you ain't going to quickly pop into passing lane to get around the semi in-front of you, and come back to the right. The engine whine doesn't help in this situation either. (Btw, most of the noise seem to come from driver side dashboard and foot paddle area. May be they need more noise insulation there? The engine is off center towards the passenger so I wonder if it is the light insulation in front driver firewall that is letting the noise thru.)

Would I still buy the same car again? Double Yes Considering the whole package. This thing is practically a half a school bus ;)
Sien - is this your first experience with a Hybrid? I have been driving Toyota Hybrids for 10 years now, 2 Prii, and my current 2019 Avalon - that has essentially the same system as the Sienna, but detuned by about 40HP. My experience was that the Prii at near full load, and steep mountain state roads in NC, you had little extra power for passing. The Avalon, with a curb weight advantage of 600lbs (4,100# curb) on the Sienna has always had extra reserve power - the ICE was spooled up like 3,500-4,000 RPMs maintaining 65 mph on the climbs (normal cruise is mostly at 1,500 RPMs at 75+ mph) so plenty of extra RPM range in the ICE to use but was passing both trucks and cars. I have found lots of aggressive drivers love jack-rabbit starts up steep/long on-ramps, but I'm always on their tails at the merge point.
 

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Sien - is this your first experience with a Hybrid? I have been driving Toyota Hybrids for 10 years now, 2 Prii, and my current 2019 Avalon - that has essentially the same system as the Sienna, but detuned by about 40HP. My experience was that the Prii at near full load, and steep mountain state roads in NC, you had little extra power for passing. The Avalon, with a curb weight advantage of 600lbs (4,100# curb) on the Sienna has always had extra reserve power - the ICE was spooled up like 3,500-4,000 RPMs maintaining 65 mph on the climbs (normal cruise is mostly at 1,500 RPMs at 75+ mph) so plenty of extra RPM range in the ICE to use but was passing both trucks and cars. I have found lots of aggressive drivers love jack-rabbit starts up steep/long on-ramps, but I'm always on their tails at the merge point.
Edit: added couple of lines.

Yeah, this is my first hybrid, and a car purchase since 2010.

I do recall seeing RPMs mostly staying around 2K as you mentioned. May be if/when I floor it, it will show its full potential! I have avoided flooring it because the engine noise as is already makes you think the car is in pain already. Speaking of which, my brand new loaner C300s over last 10 years have sounded as if they are in a lot of pain too with the engine noise. I suppose gone are the days of rumbly engines.
 

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Edit: added couple of lines.

Yeah, this is my first hybrid, and a car purchase since 2010.

I do recall seeing RPMs mostly staying around 2K as you mentioned. May be if/when I floor it, it will show its full potential! I have avoided flooring it because the engine noise as is already makes you think the car is in pain already. Speaking of which, my brand new loaner C300s over last 10 years have sounded as if they are in a lot of pain too with the engine noise. I suppose gone are the days of rumbly engines.
Of course, you have to be a bit reserved for break-in purposes. But I routinely drive two-lane flat roads in FL, and you have to pass decisively (as some yahoo's play with you upon passing) and I effortlessly get up to 100 mph when flooring it passing, it throws the extra torque in quickly (within the drone of the ICE).
 

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Of course, you have to be a bit reserved for break-in purposes. But I routinely drive two-lane flat roads in FL, and you have to pass decisively (as some yahoo's play with you upon passing) and I effortlessly get up to 100 mph when flooring it passing, it throws the extra torque in quickly (within the drone of the ICE).
Agreed. Straight line, I am all good. Any recent kind of uphill experience that you could recall? I know Central FL isn't known for hills though!
 

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I finally drove over to what can be somewhat called an uphill, a 270degrees on-ramp that got pretty good incline. I felt ours struggle as I saw the car in front of me pull away farther and farther on the uphill turn. Some other modest low grade hills on interstate made me look at the speedometer too. Next time, I will try the sport mode to see if it behaves any different.
I'm confused. I've driven my van to our place in the mountains, up 8% grades (with just me on board) and didn't notice any difference from my previous V6 Pacifica. It scampered up the hills with no drama at all. Were you carrying a load or something?
 

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NC / US 23 between Dillard GA and Asheville NC a couple times a year, pass all the trucks and most cars, you cant go above 65 safely due to tires starting to squeal on dry pavement in curves. RPMs are sustained at 3-3.5K for several miles up hill. Downhill sections of this route have runaway truck stops that look like linear uphill sandtraps. The perceived difference on the CVT hybrid drive is the sustained rpms with no “shifts” that people perceive as a lack of power. Going downhill, use cruise control, the regenerative breaking kicks in holding your speed down until the traction battery is fully topped off, then the tranny will spin the engine with no fuel injected to maintain speed without touching the brakes. The hybrid system can be a joy in the mountains - but there is steady and consistent engine drone, just like a aircraft, up and down steep hills.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk Pro
 

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I'm confused. I've driven my van to our place in the mountains, up 8% grades (with just me on board) and didn't notice any difference from my previous V6 Pacifica. It scampered up the hills with no drama at all. Were you carrying a load or something?
NC / US 23 between Dillard GA and Asheville NC a couple times a year, pass all the trucks and most cars, you cant go above 65 safely due to tires starting to squeal on dry pavement in curves. RPMs are sustained at 3-3.5K for several miles up hill. Downhill sections of this route have runaway truck stops that look like linear uphill sandtraps. The perceived difference on the CVT hybrid drive is the sustained rpms with no “shifts” that people perceive as a lack of power. Going downhill, use cruise control, the regenerative breaking kicks in holding your speed down until the traction battery is fully topped off, then the tranny will spin the engine with no fuel injected to maintain speed without touching the brakes. The hybrid system can be a joy in the mountains - but there is steady and consistent engine drone, just like a aircraft, up and down steep hills.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk Pro

Additional load other than the van itself was about 500LBs of me/wife/2 girls.

Glad to hear that both yours' experiences are much more comforting than my few short ones.

I suppose the van is meant to stay on economical side unless explicitly pushed out of it. Once I am out of break-in period, I will be more inclined to floor it.
 
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