Toyota is bringing back the Venza. The mid-size crossover returns in the same category, but with a different slant. Pitched as a more luxury-oriented, diet-Lexus niche-filler between the RAV4 and Highlander, it’s based off the Japanese-market Harrier.
New for 2021: The Venza is all new for the 2021 model year. Instead of the chonky, Camry-wagon-on-stilts look of the original, this one looks more upmarket. It carries with it more premium features than the RAV4, like a larger 12.3-inch infotainment system, 1,200-watt sound system, and a trick glass roof that goes from opaque to transparent at the touch of a button.
The reborn Toyota Venza is not the one you remember from a decade ago. Toyota is positioning it as a premium five-seat crossover in its lineup, with the sort of features you’d typically expect on a Lexus.
Arguably the Venza’s biggest party trick is its Star Gaze panoramic glass roof. At the touch of a button, the roof can go from frosted to completely clear. It’s tech that debuted on a limited-edition Ferrari in the early aughts. Also on the list of tech features is the Highlander’s larger 12.3-inch infotainment, a head-up display, and the most powerful sound system ever fitted to a Toyota.
With six extra inches of length over the RAV4, the Venza offers more space for people and their things.
Just one drivetrain will be available from launch, and it’s a hybrid system. The same as the one in the RAV4, it pairs a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with three electric motors for a combined 219 hp output. That puts the Venza down on power versus most other crossovers its size. On the other hand, Toyota is targeting 40 mpg overall.
The Venza lineup begins with the $33,645 LE trim, and runs to the low-to-mid $40k range for a loaded Limited model.
Pros/ Lux interior / Smart pricing / Fuel-sipping hybrid
Cons/ Lack of storage space / No towing abilities / Down on power
Bottom Line/ A stylish and reasonably-priced mid-sizer, the Venza prioritizes a smooth ride and excellent fuel economy in the mid-size crossover set.
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2021 Toyota Venza Review
By Kyle Patrick
How do you capitalize on the public’s continuing love affair with the crossover when you already have six in your lineup?
If you’re Toyota, you revive a nameplate, in this case the Venza. This new model is a far cry from the original though. While the Venza from 2009 to 2015 was essentially a Camry wagon with a bad case of elephantiasis, the 2021 edition is a svelte crossover. It slots in between the massively popular RAV4 and the three-row Highlander, sharing a platform with both and the wheelbase of the former.
With classy new looks and a hybrid powertrain, Venza 2.0 looks to carve out its own space in the mid-size crossover segment. Thanks to a reasonable price tag and a whole bunch of feel-good tech, it looks set to succeed too.
Toyota Venza Powertrain
You can have any Toyota Venza, so long as it’s a hybrid Venza. Yes, Toyota is going all-in with it’s fuel-sipping tech here, not even offering the option of a straight gasoline drivetrain.
Luckily it’s a good example of the breed. The 2.5-liter engine is the same as the one in the RAV4. So are the three electric motors, the on-demand electric all-wheel drive, and the continuously-variable transmission. Ditto the 219 combined system horsepower. The Venza uses a lithium-ion battery to power its hybrid gubbins, however.
Toyota Venza Features and Pricing
Venza LE: Starts at $33,645
The Venza lineup begins at $33,645 (including destination), slightly closer to the RAV4 Hybrid than the larger Highlander Hybrid.
Every Venza features the same hybrid powertrain and electronic all-wheel drive. The LE comes very well-equipped for an “entry” model, including a wireless charging pad, four USB ports, hands-free powered liftgate, eight-way powered driver’s seat, and a 60/40 folding rear row.
Toyota’s Safety Sense 2.0 suite of driver assists is standard as well, including automated emergency braking, lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control, and more. For the Venza, rear cross-traffic alert and blind spot monitoring is also part of the package.
Venza XLE: $37,175
Opting for the mid-level XLE improves the Venza’s interior courtesy of SofTex-trimmed seats and a soft-touch dashboard. An optional package fully wraps the thrones in Toyota’s faux-leather. Ambient lighting also joins the interior show. Two options packages cover the interior upgrades (adding power controls to the front passenger seat too), and a tech pack which bumps the central infotainment screen to a much larger 12.3 inches. The latter also adds capacitive touch to the center console.
Venza Limited: $40,975
Move to the top-shelf Limited and you’ll get the larger infotainment screen as standard, plus the upgraded interior. A digital rearview mirror is also part of the deal. The biggest upgrade—which remains an option on Limited—is the trick Star Gaze glass roof. A 10-inch head-up display is also on the small options list.
Toyota Venza Recommended Trim
Toyota keeps things simple with the Venza in terms of drivetrain, so there’s no worries about forced upgrades for the good stuff there. However, we’re leaning into the quasi-Lexus feel of the SUV here and suggesting the Limited. The Star Gaze roof justifiably wows all passengers, and the upgraded infotainment and sound system solidifies the premium feel of the cabin. It’s the one we’d go for with our own cash.
Toyota Venza Fuel Economy
Toyota quotes a combined 39 mpg rating for the Venza, regardless of trim. That separates out to a 40 mpg rating in the city, and 37 on the highway, landing it close to the smaller RAV4.
|Price Range (USD) /||$33,645–$40,975|
|Engine /||2.5L I4 Hybrid|
|Horsepower (hp) /||219 (combined)|
|Torque (lb-ft) /||163|
|Fuel Economy (mpg) /||40/37/39|
|Drivetrain /||CVT, AWD|
Our Final Verdict
The Venza is a smart niche-filler for Toyota. Slightly bigger and much more premium-feeling than the RAV4, it offers folks a fuel-sipping alternative to the other mid-size two-row crossovers out there. It feels very much like a Lexus, especially in top Limited trim thanks to that very cool magic glass roof.
It doesn’t have the power of others in its class, nor can it really tow. But if you don’t quite need a third row yet, and crave style over the ubiquitousness of the RAV4, the Venza is a surprisingly affordable option.3.7
|Space and Comfort||7.0|