In case you haven’t noticed, comeback season is upon us. The Ford Bronco, Chevrolet Trailblazer, Chevrolet Blazer, Hummer, Toyota Supra, and Jeep Grand Cherokee have all been revived from the dustbin. Old names sink into nostalgia, helping automakers to introduce more modern machinery. In the case of the 2021 Toyota Venza, it’s giving the nameplate an entirely new slate, which was a requirement for the model after the failure of the first-gen model.
We suspect that many people disapproved of Toyota’s decision to cancel the Venza when it was discontinued in 2015, but the two-row mid-size SUV landscape hasn’t changed that much in six years. Most similar competitors exist, and few have even done anything to move the bar. in this regard, 2021 Venza There is a strangeness. Its hybrid-only powertrain positions it as one of the few electrified options, while the stylish design and available star gaze roof are clear indications of how Toyota is setting it up as a cut above other SUVs. These qualities also help the Venza to stand squarely against the likes of Nissan Murano, Ford Edge, Chevrolet Blazer and Hyundai Santa Fe.
The Venza is on the more expensive side of things, with prices starting at $33,645 for the base LE trim, though every model comes with all-wheel drive as standard. Our test car was a top-of-the-line Limited trim with a few optional extras like a head-up display, Toyota’s star gaze panoramic roof, and rain-sensing windshield wipers, which cost $43,100.
design and interior
Making a vehicle upscale is more difficult than it sounds. It generally favors fewer design elements and smoother lines – two things Toyota designers have overcome in an effort to achieve a more dramatically styled vehicle. With the Venza, Toyota has exercised some restraint and it really works. The EV-like grille, a chrome piece at the front that connects the headlights, tall rear fenders, and slim taillights connected to a horizontal light give the new Venza a design that puts the older model to shame.
Two-row midsize SUVs are all about style. Without a third line, automakers have some leeway to pen more stylish designs. Some options go too far in trying to be unique, like the Hyundai Santa Fe, while others, like the Honda Passport, keep things a little too safe. Toyota managed to hit a sweet spot with the wider design, but the design comes at the cost of interior space.
The Venza can be classified as a mid-sized SUV, but it offers less interior space than the smaller Toyota RAV4 Hybrid on which it is based. That doesn’t mean the Venza’s interior is cramped, it’s smaller than almost every other option in the class. The most obvious downside is the lack of cargo capacity. With the rear seats folded down, the Venza offers just 28.7 cubic feet of cargo space. The figure opens up to 54.9 cubic feet and the rear seats fold down. That’s less than the majority of other midsize SUVs, which offer about 70 cubic feet in total, and it’s less than the RAV4 (69.8 cubic feet of cargo space) total.
Electrochromic glass ceilings can go from frosted to transparent with the simple click of a button.
Another problem, which we’ve encountered with other Toyotas as well, is how loud the interior can get. The four-cylinder engine especially rings at startup, and transfers a lot of vibration to the cabin. On the highway, there’s a notable amount of wind noise that seems out of place for an upscale vehicle.
The Venza may not offer a Lexus-like feel, but it certainly rises up the trim ladder as you climb. Going up to XLE trim opens the door to stylish two-tone interior design, though synthetic leather upholstery is the best seating material available, and wood-grain-style trim. The real claim to fame of the SUV is the available star gauge panoramic roof which is available as an option only on the range-topping Limited trim. The electrochromic glass ceiling can go from frosted to transparent with the simple click of a button, allowing you to enjoy the panoramic ceiling to the fullest. It is also a bragging feature as till now it has been reserved for ultra-luxurious cars.
The quality of materials in our Limited trim test car was superb for an SUV in this category. Instead of hard plastic throughout the cabin, like you’ll find on many other Toyotas, almost every part you interact with is soft-touch material. The center console’s design, faux wood trim, and synthetic leather upholstery all look great, while the color palette, which was a mix of grays in our tester, looked tasteful.
Tech, infotainment, and driver-assistance
Unless you go with the range-topping Venza, the SUV’s infotainment system mirrors those you would find in other Toyota models. The standard infotainment system includes an 8.0-inch touchscreen, four USB ports, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Amazon Alexa, a built-in Wi-Fi hot spot, six audio speakers, a wireless smartphone charger, and Bluetooth. A nine-speaker JBL audio system and a 12.3-inch touchscreen are some of the available options.
The touchscreen is a typical Toyota product, running the latest Entune system. Both touchscreens have dated graphics and an intriguing layout. Beyond size, the larger 12.3-inch touchscreen omits the physical buttons. Both the HVAC and infotainment system can be controlled via touch-capacitive buttons, which is disappointing at best. The larger touchscreen brings split-screen functionality, with a nifty feature that lets you choose which side of the screen is split, either right or left. This makes it easy to interact with both the driver or the passenger.
Standard safety features come from the Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 Suite. The bundle includes traffic sign recognition, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, lane-keeping assist and lane departure warning. Some optional safety features include parking sensors, a heads-up display and a surround-view parking camera.
While the Venza is loaded with all kinds of security features, we must point out that the quality of the cameras isn’t great. The camera has a fish-eye lens that distorts the image to the point where a 360-degree view isn’t as useful. Fortunately, the Venza is available with a video rearview mirror that gives drivers a clear view of what’s behind the vehicle without interruption.
Under the hood, the Venza uses the same hybrid powertrain as the RAV4 Hybrid, consisting of a 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine and three electric motors. All-wheel drive and a continuously variable automatic transmission are also included. This is the only powertrain available, making the Venza one of the few hybrid vehicles in the midsize segment and one of the few hybrid-only cars on the market.
Toyota claims that the Venza has a combined output of 219 horsepower. That may not sound like much, especially when the Murano, Blazer, Passport and Edge are available with six-cylinder engines. At the end of the day, though, the lack of power doesn’t affect the Venza’s appeal.
In the real world, the Venza offers plenty of power for everyday use. The hybrid powertrain fills in the gaps where a four-cylinder engine alone makes you want more, which makes the mid-size SUV feel far pepperier than its horsepower figure. The switch from gasoline to electricity is smooth, and the spacecraft-like noise emitted when the Venza is powered by electricity makes you feel like you’re in the future. If you plan on doing a lot of city driving, there’s an “EV Mode” that makes sure the Venza runs on electricity alone to save gasoline or get around in every way possible.
Aside from its stylish exterior design, the Venza is tuned more for comfort than agility. The soft suspension setup results in more relaxed cornering than other mid-size SUVs, but it also translates to a comfortable ride on all kinds of road conditions. There is a “Sport” mode, but it doesn’t matter much in this application. Instead, we put it in “echo” mode and kept it there for most of the week.
If you need an SUV to haul cargo, you’re better off looking elsewhere, as the Venza isn’t rated for tow at all.
gas mileage and safety
The Venza’s powertrain may leave some drivers scrambling for more performance, but it certainly makes up for it when it comes to fuel economy. You’re getting class-leading fuel economy figures of 39 mpg combined (40 mpg city, 37 mpg highway) and that’s with all-wheel drive. While it’s not as good as the RAV4 Hybrid (40 mpg combined), it’s far better than any other two-row midsize SUV and better than every other midsize SUV with a hybrid powertrain. The all-new Kia Sorento Hybrid gets the closest with a combined rating of 37 mpg.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) named the 2021 Toyota a Top Safety Pick, the organization’s second highest rating. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave the SUV a five-star overall safety rating.
In the real world, the Venza offers plenty of power for everyday use.
Toyota covers the Venza with a three-year, 36,000-mile basic warranty and a five-year, 60,000-mile powertrain warranty. These are averages for mainstream brands, though Kia and Hyundai lead the segment with a five-year, 60,000-mile basic warranty and a 10-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty.
Like Toyota’s other hybrids, the Venza is backed by a 10-year, 150,000-mile battery warranty and an eight-year, 100,000-mile warranty for the components that make up the hybrid system.
How would DT configure this car
With a price of over $40,000, our Venza Limited test vehicle performed all…