What a Difference a T Makes: Toyota Sienta Minivan Is Wonderfully Weird

Toyota Sienta hybrid (JDM-spec)

Fans that we are here of quirky, weird stuff, especially on four wheels, we greet the appearance of the new, second-generation Toyota Sienta minivan (that’s “Sienta” with a T, not our not-so-mini Sienna minivan) with a collective smile—and maybe a twinge of envy for the overseas markets that will get it.

With its redesign, the Sienta, which started out as a Renault Twingo knockoff in 2003, has become its very own thing. Its slightly larger dimensions are masked by styling that mixes in some Fiat 500L, Kia Soul, and Mazda 5. Each graphic element on the Sienta’s front and rear fascias is somehow related to something else—the styling is said to be inspired by a trekking shoe—and contrived as it is, it kinda works. Every cutline and window shape has been reimagined, and design oddities like the, um, “naca wheel” (our term, not Toyota’s) shows that Toyota’s design department has been loading up on caffeine.

Yet the whimsical mini-minivan remains eminently practical, a rolling Bento box with seating for five, six, of seven passengers, including configurations to accommodate a passenger in a wheelchair. The sliding door now opens wider, and adults are said to now be able to fit in the larger third-row seat.

Toyota Sienta hybrid (JDM-spec)

The standard Sienta is powered (to use the term loosely) by a 60-hp derivative of the 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine that serves as the gasoline-fueled half of the Prius’s hybrid powertrain. Not coincidentally, the new Sienta is now offered as a 98-hp hybrid as well, which begs a Would You Rather question we’re pretty sure has never been asked before: “Prius V or Sienta hybrid?” We’ll take the Sienta hybrid, thank you. In “Air Yellow,” of course.

Sadly, the likelihood of seeing the Sienta in any form here is pretty much nil; so we’ll have to be content with these pictures for now. But it’s nice to see more evidence that Toyota’s stylists are undeniably awake.

Toyota Sienta hybrid (JDM-spec)

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