The minivan gets a bad rap for being the stereotypical "soccer mom vehicle" without much character, style, or driving pleasure. Ironically, this description usually comes from those who have never owned a minivan. Most families who choose to go the minivan route never look back thanks to the convenience of the sliding doors, easy ingress and egress, and endless passenger and cargo space. Families who appreciate the convenience of a minivan but want the added practicality and safety of AWD have two options to choose from: the 2021 Toyota Sienna and the 2021 Chrysler Pacifica. See how the styling, performance, and features compare in these two family haulers with available AWD.
2021 Toyota Sienna
We never would have thought we'd one day describe the Toyota Sienna's styling as "radical" or "sexy" but all that has changed with the redesigned 2021 Sienna. The Sienna has offered AWD for years, but prior to the latest redesign, the AWD was its biggest selling point. Now, the minivan is more attractive, and even somewhat aggressive, with an SUV-like stance, bigger fenders, a big black mesh grille, and strong body lines for a muscular look.
Unlike the Chrysler Pacifica which doesn't offer an AWD hybrid model, the Toyota Sienna has available AWD on every single grade. The Sienna uses an electronic on-demand AWD system that replaces a heavy AWD transfer case and space-stealing driveshaft to the rear wheels with a separate independent electric motor to power the rear wheels when needed.
During off-the-line starts, the Sienna's Hybrid AWD sends up to 80% of driving force to the rear wheels to help prevent front-wheel slip. The system gives the minivan confident handling by improving cornering agility and reducing understeer. Torque distribution is designed to change with conditions, from 100:0 in constant-speed driving to 20:80 on slippery surfaces.
The 2021 Sienna is hybrid only with a 2.5-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder combined with two electric motors up front. The all-wheel-drive models get a third electric motor to power the rear wheels. Total system output is a healthy 243 horsepower, and efficiency is rated at a combined 33 mpg.
Inside, the Sienna offers a spacious layout, a quieter driving experience, and substantial tech improvements. Available Super Long Slide second-row captain chairs slide 25 inches to offer more legroom, flexibility, and comfort. Tech upgrades include a standard nine-inch touchscreen display with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and Amazon Alexa, an available head-up display, a digital rearview mirror, vacuum cleaner, refrigerator, and a 1,500-watt inverter.
Why Go with a 2021 Toyota Sienna?
- Dramatic styling with an SUV-inspired aggressive stance
- The only hybrid minivan available with AWD
- The new TNGA-K Platform reduces cabin noise
2021 Chrysler Pacifica
Comparing the Toyota Sienna AWD with the 2021 Chrysler Pacifica AWD is a smart idea before deciding on your next family hauler. The Pacifica gets styling upgrades, convenient Stow 'n Go seating, and an all-new AWD system for improved traction in all kinds of driving conditions. After a makeover for 2021, the Pacifica has an updated front fascia that sports a new grille, headlights, and front bumper. The taillights stretch across the full width of the rear for a wider and more sophisticated appearance.
Inside, the infotainment system grows by 20% for a standard 10.1" touchscreen. The home screen can be customized, and Amazon Alexa is now standard. The top-of-the-line Pinnacle model is added for 2021 with Nappa leather seats, second-row captain’s chair pillows, and an Ultra center console with more storage capacity. When it comes to safety tech, the Pacifica offers more standard features than any vehicle in the industry. Standard features like Pedestrian Automatic Emergency Braking, Adaptive Cruise Control, and Full-Speed Forward Collision Warning complement the vehicle's sophisticated AWD system to protect families on the road.
The Chrysler Pacifica's new AWD system is the most advanced in its class. The system is fully automated and can transfer all available engine torque to the rear wheels, or whichever wheels have more available traction. It's the only system of its kind in the segment and it can sense and stop the driveshaft from spinning when AWD is not in use. The result is increased efficiency and reduced emissions. Although there is a hybrid model available, AWD is currently only available on gas-powered Pacificas.
In addition to the unique AWD system that's exclusive to Chrysler's minivan, the Pacifica is also the only vehicle in the segment to feature both AWD and Stow 'n Go Seating. This feature allows you to store gear in the floor and also fold the entire captain's chairs out of sight. Even in the AWD models, the Stow 'n' Go seats easily fold into the floor. To get the same storage in the Sienna, you would need to remove the second-row seats entirely.
Why Go with the 2021 Chrysler Pacifica?
- Only AWD minivan with Stow 'n Go seats
- The most standard safety features in its class
- The only minivan with a fully automatic All-Wheel-Drive System