The Toyota Venza is a midsize SUV manufactured primarily for the North American market. The first-generation model was based on the Camry XV40-series platform and was sold between 2008 and 2017.
It also shared the platform with the Lexus RX of the AL10 series. The second-generation model is a renamed XU80 series Harrier from the Japanese market and has been sold since September 2020.
The name “Venza” is an acronym for “Venture” and “Monza,” and is assembled at the Japanese automaker’s Georgetown, Kentucky factory.
Styles and Options
The 2021 Toyota Venza is a midsize SUV that comes with more standard features than most in its segment. It is offered exclusively as an all-wheel-drive hybrid and comes in three trim levels: LE, XLE, and Limited, which I tested.
Limited highlights include: 12.3-inch touchscreen, nine-speaker JBL premium audio system, digital rearview mirror, heated and ventilated front seats, full simulation leather upholstery, power-adjustable front passenger seat, heated steering wheel , 360 degree camera system.
Some of the Limited features are available on the XLE as options. For the Limited you can also get: Advanced Technology Package, 10-inch color front screen, rain-sensing windshield wipers, Star Gaze panoramic roof.
The electrochromic panoramic sunroof, with the push of a button, can change from clear glass to opaque white. It effectively blocks out much of the direct sun and heat, but maintains a bright cockpit space.
All Venzas use a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and two electric motors (one dedicated to charging) to send power through a continuously variable automatic transmission to their front wheels with a total output of 219 horsepower.
A single rear engine also provides power to the rear wheels when you need extra traction. It’s a similar setup to the RAV4 Hybrid and Highlander Hybrid.
Toyota paid particular attention to increasing the comfort level in the Venza, which it theoretically accommodates, but that could end up being just four, as there’s a big hump right where the person in the middle rear seat puts their feet.
There is a lot to like about the interior of the Venza. It’s sleek and well-built, and a lot of the materials wouldn’t look out of place on a Lexus.
There’s plenty of head and leg room for tall adults in both rows, and the seats are supportive and comfortable.
The front seats are comfortable and supportive. The rear passengers also have fairly comfortable seats, with reclining seatbacks and climate control vents to ensure good airflow.
Our Limited model comes with a 360-degree parking camera system that takes much of the guesswork out of maneuvering in tight spaces.
Many other hybrid SUVs provide more cargo space than the Venza.
With the rear seats raised, the Venza offers 28.7 cubic feet of space. Fold the rear seats down and that number increases to 54.9 cubic feet, although its hybrid competitors provide more cargo space.
The hands-free tailgate is standard, something some competitors only offer on expensive models.
Toyota has finally caught up with the industry on smartphone integration, offering Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard features on the Venza.
Toyota’s latest 12.3-inch infotainment display (optional) offers an easy-to-use interface and menu structure. Below this screen are enhanced touch-sensitive controls for climate control and radio.
The native navigation system isn’t as fancy, fast, or easy as phone-based navigation apps, but it’s nice to have in case you don’t have a cellular signal. Four USB ports plus a wireless charger provide on-the-go power for all on-board devices.
It features antilock brakes, stability and traction control, trailer sway control, front knee airbags, front side airbags and side curtain airbags that cover both rows.
It brings a rear view camera, parking sensors, blind spot monitoring system with cross traffic alert, adapted cruise control, automated emergency braking and lane departure monitoring, forward collision warning and mitigation with automatic braking, warning lane departure, automatic high beams and adapted cruise control.
The package includes forward collision warning and mitigation, lane departure warning, automatic high beam control and adapted cruise control. Some of these systems are too sensitive and annoying.
On the highway
This SUV is fast enough at real-world acceleration and baffles the one who reads the specs for the four-cylinder hybrid powertrain. Electric motors provide respectable off-line acceleration.
There is nothing sporty about the Venza’s handling, but it is neat and confident as you grasp its hand.
When you’re just commuting around town, Toyota’s dominance in the combination of gasoline and electric power is noticeable and the Venza offers smooth acceleration with virtually no lag.
Its interior is well insulated from the sounds of the outside environment and the engine does not have the same annoying sound that it has in the RAV4 Hybrid.
It feels serene on winding roads, but it’s not overly nimble. Instead, it’s a comfortable and easy-to-drive SUV, with a ride quality that stands out for its smoothness while the suspension easily absorbs road imperfections.
The Venza also offers excellent driving comfort, feeling more like a Lexus, in the way it eliminates potholes and handles down road downs.
The new Venza competes with other midsize SUVs such as the Chevrolet Blazer, Honda Passport, Subaru Outback and Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport.
These models are known for their abundance of passenger and cargo space, something the new Venza is a bit short on. However, it has something that they do not have, which is a standard hybrid powertrain and Toyota reliability.
Price: From US $ 34,160 to US $ 43,100
Consumption: 40 mpg city / 37 mpg highway