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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I'm currently in a 2014 Odyssey and I have been following the new Sienna with great anticipation. I text drove an XLE AWD yesterday, and here are my thoughts:

  1. The headroom is woeful and shockingly tight. I am 6'4" and had just enough headroom in the driver's seat with it in its lowest setting. Even then, if I fully straightened myself, my hair would brush the ceiling. Unfortunately, the passenger side was much worse. There, the seat cannot be lowered as much as on the driver's side, and I simply could not sit upright. I would say I need about two inches of additional headroom on the passenger side to make it livable. The fact that Toyota would bring a minivan to market that cannot comfortably accommodate a 6'4" person is astounding. This immediately killed the deal for me, as my wife drives and I'm the passenger at least 30% of the time. But I'll continue with my test drive impressions.
  2. Space in general is lacking, for a minivan. It's certainly better than any mid-size three-row SUV, but is worst in class. The middle row is the best and I would say that is class leading. The third row however is once again very tight on headroom. It would be unusable to me (which is not the case in the Odyssey). Also, the cargo area seems narrower than the Odyssey and Pacifica. The well is however deep and generally sufficient.
  3. The ride is smooth and the body structure is tight. I made it a point to hit some potholes and poor roads, and the body is commendably tight - more so than any other minivan that I can recall. The suspension has good impact absorption, and is quiet in its work.
  4. Overall, it is quiet (when the engine isn't being called upon for acceleration). Going 70+ the the highway, or over the aforementioned rough roads, noise is at a low and likely class leading level. There is very little wind noise.
  5. The engine roars, drones and vibrates, and does so often. I was excited about the hybrid powertrain, but I'm afraid that this 4-cylinder version is overmatched by the size and weight of this van. As others have mentioned, the electric motors provide fairly strong, silent acceleration at low speed (up to about 15-20 mph, depending on terrain). Anything beyond modest acceleration, or to a higher speed, immediately fires the gas engine. And unfortunately the gas engine is rude and unbecoming of a $45k vehicle. It is intrusively loud, coarse in its operation, and even vibrates the steering wheel at certain rpm. I drove it up a ~6% grade with perhaps a total of 300ft of elevation gained, and the engine unpleasantly droned the entire time. And I note this was all with only me aboard. I imagine the engine would fire even more often and struggle more with my family and our stuff aboard. I'd also note that I am not an aggressive driver and was not flogging the Sienna at all. Really, in my opinion, this is a horrible drivetrain for this vehicle. If the lack of headroom hadn't killed it, this terribly unpleasant powertrain would have.
  6. Power, and accordingly acceleration, is adequate. I did not feel that I needed vastly more power (although it would have been nice). But I did feel like I was in a Cessna with the engine working at 70% of capacity for too much of the total driving experience.
  7. Infotainment is decent. The graphics are lacking, actually seemingly worse in resolution than my 6-yo Odyssey. On the positive side, I found the infotainment to be very quick in terms of responding, much more so than my Honda. Overall, I didn't love it, didn't hate it.
  8. Interior feels of passable quality. The materials in some places are quite good, in other places they feel quite cheap. It felt like the trim on the center bridge would scratch and scar quite quickly. I wasn't impressed, but I guess this is about as good as it gets in mainstream vehicles.
So, in conclusion, I think this is a poorly designed minivan. It really doesn't excel at the things that a minivan should excel at: hauling a lot of people and stuff in comfort. I think they concentrated way too much on the styling - which I think is part of the driver of the "chopped" roof that impedes headroom and space. I suppose that could also have been an effort to reduce frontal area to improve fuel economy. But regardless, it really causes the Sienna to fail its primary mission. Also, the choice of a non-prime powertrain with this unruly 4-cylinder grinding away was wrongheaded. I think Chrysler did it much better with the Pacifica Hybrid.
 

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Regarding the headroom, that's an interesting discovery. I'm 6'3" and don't hit it in previous gens. Do you have a long torso? The 2020 and earlier years list this for the XLE headroom:
41.0 inches without moonroof
39.1 inches with

And the 2021 XLE lists:
40 inches without moonroof
38.1 inches with moonroof

So according to official specs, a full 1 inch difference between last gen. Not surprising then that you may be hitting. I'll have to see how it fits me when i get in to test one.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Regarding the headroom, that's an interesting discovery. I'm 6'3" and don't hit it in previous gens. Do you have a long torso? The 2020 and earlier years list this for the XLE headroom:
41.0 inches without moonroof
39.1 inches with

And the 2021 XLE lists:
40 inches without moonroof
38.1 inches with moonroof

So according to official specs, a full 1 inch difference between last gen. Not surprising then that you may be hitting. I'll have to see how it fits me when i get in to test one.
I'm not particularly long in torso and am evenly proportioned. I'm also interested in their headroom measurements, as clearly there's a difference between the driver the passenger side seat adjustments. If they would fit the 8-way adjustable seat to the passenger (it's 4-way only, even on Platinum), I think they could largely address the problem. I was still underwhelmed in the headroom on the driver's, but it would be livable. Of course, there's still the powertrain...
 

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Thanks for your detailed test drive observations, this will help a lot of people shopping!
I personally am not a big fan of the 2020 JBL 10 speaker sound system, did you have a chance to observe the sound system at loud volume? If not anyone else here who can chime in?
 

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The ride is smooth and the body structure is tight. I made it a point to hit some potholes and poor roads, and the body is commendably tight - more so than any other minivan that I can recall. The suspension has good impact absorption, and is quiet in its work.
I am so happy to hear this! Thank you for sharing! My current 2017 Sienna is a big rattlebox and I can't wait to get rid of it. I almost about to give up on the minivan and think of getting a big BOF SUV instead because of my current Sienna's rattle noisy ride. I will test a 2021 premium if I like it I will put on 17inch wheels to make the ride even smoother.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for your detailed test drive observations, this will help a lot of people shopping!
I personally am not a big fan of the 2020 JBL 10 speaker sound system, did you have a chance to observe the sound system at loud volume? If not anyone else here who can chime in?
Sorry, I didn't test the sound system.
 

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We had a similar experience, which is why we chose the Honda Odyssey. I'm 6'6", and they reduced front headroom to accommodate the battery that sits under those seats. I was really disappointed, because there's a lot we did like about the van.
 

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I'm still looking forward to checking out the 2021 Sienna when they finally arrive here in Canada in a few weeks - especially the XSE in Ruby Red Pearl. But it doesn't sound too promising with what I'm hearing about gruff engine noise, so-so materials, limited headroom, small third row, plastic clad wheels etc. My 2008 Honda Odyssey is starting to look better in some ways. At least it has real leather, good room and a polished engine sound and feel - even if I'm only getting about 16-17 mpg.
 
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