Toyota Sienta Hybrid

All-new Toyota Sienta Hybrid Review: “Best in class in terms of fuel efficiency & third-row seat space, its comfortableness radiates” by Naoki Aoyama

The all-new Sienta has Toyota’s latest 1.5L engine gasoline system and a new hybrid system, one which the owners of the previous generation model have been longing for.

The model that I test drove was tuned with a hybrid system based on the Aqua in terms of the tendency of its acceleration and it has a low friction oil on its damper.

It is said that the suspension and tires for hybrid and gasoline versions of the Sienta are completely similar. However, its hybrid system has a lower flooring on the second row, and just like the previous generation model, its hollow storage part can be equipped with a heavy battery so it has a lower balance of 15 to 20mm compared to the gasoline system.

When I drove the model that was optionally equipped with 16-inch tires, its riding comfort felt more solid and rigid compared to the gasoline version that I drove before. Its power steering also has a steady touch.

The seat cushion of the driver’s seat was thick and even though it gives more comfort towards the upper part of your body, it gave me direct shock when I drove on roads with different levels and roads with manholes. It has a different riding feel compared to gasoline models equipped with 16-inch tires which make you drive gently as if nothing happened. With the former, there was also louder road noise.

Even though it made me feel its gentleness and sportiness when driving it, it is pleasant to use as a compact minivan for the family. Thus, it gave me an impression that it is unnecessary to equip this model with tires of the same size as the gasoline version.

The torque of its motor makes its power performance higher than the gasoline version, thus it is more flexible. With the gasoline version, driving uphill when you have two or three passengers is a struggle; with the hybrid version, you can accelerate without any difficulty. The hybrid version has a more flexible running performance on highways and mountain roads.

The model equipped with standard 15-inch tires doesn’t have the same performance with the gasoline version equipped with 16-inch tires. However, it gave me a fairly pleasant riding feel when I drove on rounded corners.

The gasoline version is amazing with its 20.2km/L maximum fuel consumption. However, if you want to experience an astounding fuel performance of the hybrid version minivan with 27.2km/L, I recommend you to use the model equipped with standard 15-inch tires. The development group also recommends the standard hybrid version. (As for the gasoline version, they recommend you to equip it with 16-inch tires for a more comfortable riding feel.)

Incidentally, there’s only a small difference on the appearance around the driver’s seat of both the hybrid and gasoline version of the all-new Sienta. But in the hybrid version, the left part of its meter has a hybrid system indicator. Both models have gated shifters, and the hybrid version does not adopt the electro shift-matic transmission. In other words, the meters and shifters of the hybrid version is more overwhelmingly advanced, just like Honda’s Vezel and Shuttle. But it doesn’t mean that it’s comparably stylish.

As for its price, the hybrid version X Grade is more expensive by 410,000 yen. As for the gasoline version, it has an average fuel performance of the Freed Hybrid (with 21.6km/L). It would be a wise choice if you’re going to buy the middle X Grade of the gasoline version, which is outfitted with the common advanced safety technology package, the Toyota Safety Sense C with navigator.

Regardless of whether you choose the hybrid version or the gasoline version, the comfortability and wide space on its third row seats are the best and greatest among its class. Aside from that, it has a usable third row seat which is a first in minivans; by moving the second row seats a bit forward, even adult passengers would fit just right and wouldn’t feel any dissatisfaction about it.

I was pleased that even though it is only limited to a maximum of four passengers, the second row can be folded to make room for the third row. When I folded the second row seats, it formed a U-shape. When the seat is slid down, the leg room space for me, whose height is 172cm, can reach up to 158cm, compared to the second row seat of the Alphard (which can only be slid up to 87cm); thus this one is exceptional. This wide legroom is just enough. When I found out about this arrangement, I instantly thought the third row is quite a special seat.

Of course, the Sienta is a pet-friendly compact minivan. There’s no big difference on the slide door part and the floor, and its floor clearance is amazingly low with 330mm, allowing small dogs and elderly passengers to ride with ease. From its low tailgate that has a 490mm aperture ground clearance, you can store things on the third row and enjoy riding comfortably and pleasantly. It also has plenty of accessories for pets so this is perfect for dog lovers.

â–  5 Star Rating
Packaging: ★★★★★
Interior/Comfort: ★★★★
Power Source: ★★★★
Footwork: ★★★★
Recommendation: ★★★★
Pet-friendliness: ★★★★★

Naoki Aoyama| Motor Journalist/ Dock Life Journalist
He became a freelance motor journalist after working as an editor for an automotive magazine. He started as a writer specializing on automotive magazines, and then of general news magazines and websites. He also worked on publication related to pet (dog) and overseas travel, pet and drive-related television program, as well as events. He is currently expanding his career as a dog life producer. He is a Japan Car of the Year Selection Committee member.

(Translated by Claire Marie Sausora)