Minivans have long been considered practical and spacious vehicles, but they often lack the cool factor. However, that perception might be changing with the introduction of the 2021 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid and the 2021 Toyota Sienna Hybrid. These two minivans not only offer comfort and versatility but also come with innovative powertrains, modern design, and advanced technology.
The Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid has received a facelift for the 2021 model year, with updated front and rear fascias and enhanced lighting elements. It may not have undergone a complete redesign like the Toyota Sienna, but it still manages to look more premium and stylish than its predecessor. The Pacifica Hybrid in the S Appearance package, with gloss black accents and 18-inch alloys, is particularly eye-catching. The stunning Ceramic Gray paint option also adds to its overall dynamic and impressive appearance. Inside the Pacifica, Chrysler’s traditional minivan design can be seen, which some view as conventional and conservative. In comparison, the Toyota Sienna boasts a more expressive and aggressive design, with a distinctive gaping-maw grille and sleek lines. The Sienna’s design is bolder than the Pacifica’s and gives it a sportier and more modern look. The Sienna XSE trim, with gloss black accents and 20-inch wheels, stands out in terms of style. The Sienna’s cabin is equally impressive, featuring bright upholstery, a floating bridge center console, and a dash-spanning shelf. The Sienna’s interior has a more modern and cockpit-like feel compared to the Pacifica’s conventional design.
In terms of comfort, the Pacifica offers spacious seating for six adults, with a third row that remains comfortable even with the second row pushed all the way back. The Sienna also provides ample space for second-row passengers when the captain’s chairs are set all the way back. However, finding a seating position that distributes legroom fairly between the second and third rows in the Sienna can be challenging. Both minivans have comfortable front seats, with the Pacifica’s leather seats feeling more premium and supportive. The Chrysler Pacifica offers a quieter and more refined driving experience, with the powerful electric motors and sizable battery allowing for extended electric-only driving. The Sienna, on the other hand, has a slightly nippier performance and offers better adjustability and comfort in the second row.
When it comes to technology, the Pacifica Hybrid comes out on top. It features the new Uconnect 5 infotainment system with a 10.1-inch touchscreen, wireless Apple CarPlay, and a reconfigurable 7.0-inch screen in the instrument cluster. The Sienna’s 9.0-inch touchscreen, while adequate, has less attractive graphics and a more difficult-to-navigate layout. The Pacifica Hybrid also offers the Uconnect Theater Family Group, which includes twin 10.1-inch touchscreens, a 360-degree camera setup, and advanced gaming and streaming capabilities. The Sienna, on the other hand, only offers a single 11.6-inch display hidden in the roof. The Sienna’s infotainment system lacks the comprehensive operating system and touchscreen functionality of the Pacifica’s system.
In terms of performance and handling, the Pacifica Hybrid excels with its plug-in hybrid powertrain and smooth driving experience. The combination of the 3.6-liter V6 engine, two electric motors, and a lithium-ion battery provides ample power and a near-silent driving experience. The Pacifica handles corners with ease, thanks to its lower center of gravity from the battery pack. The Sienna Hybrid, with its hybrid powertrain and smaller nickel-metal hydride battery, offers a slightly nippier performance. However, its gas engine emits a constant buzziness that can be quite noticeable compared to the quieter Pacifica. The Sienna’s handling characteristics are more typical of a minivan, with more body roll and a lower cornering limit compared to the Pacifica. The Toyota also suffers from grabby and hard-to-modulate brakes.
In terms of safety, both minivans offer a range of active safety features as standard equipment. The Pacifica Hybrid includes automatic emergency braking, full-speed adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, automatic high beams, and blind-spot monitoring. The Sienna Hybrid comes with the same active safety features as part of Toyota Safety Sense 2.0, with the addition of traffic sign recognition and lane-tracing technology. Both minivans provide a safe and secure driving experience, although the Pacifica feels slightly more refined in terms of adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping performance.
In terms of efficiency, the Pacifica Hybrid offers the advantage of a plug-in hybrid powertrain, allowing for extended electric-only driving and impressive fuel economy. With a fully charged battery, the Pacifica can travel up to 30 miles on electricity alone and delivers an EPA-rated 82 MPGe with a full battery. The Sienna Hybrid, on the other hand, is a parallel hybrid with a smaller battery, resulting in shorter electric-only range and lower fuel economy. The Sienna falls short of its EPA estimate, achieving 35.3 mpg in real-world driving compared to its 35 mpg combined rating.
When it comes to pricing, the Pacifica Hybrid starts at $39,995, while the Sienna Hybrid has a base price of $34,460. With added features and options, the as-tested price for the Pacifica Hybrid Limited reaches $50,630, while the Sienna Hybrid XSE comes in at $48,029. Overall, the Pacifica Hybrid offers a more complete package, with its refined driving experience, impressive technology, and extended electric driving range. While the Sienna Hybrid has its strengths, such as bold styling and versatile second-row seating, it falls slightly behind the Pacifica in several key areas. Ultimately, the choice between the two will depend on individual preferences and priorities.