The Venza returns to the Toyota line-up for the 2021model year as a brand new model. It has a hybrid powertrain, good fuel economy, comfortable ride and a classy interior but isn’t as nimble and has less room than some competitors.
Base Price: $39,800
As Tested: $43,100
Mileage: 40 mpg city37/ mpg highway/39 mpg combined
The old Venza crossover was retired in 2015. The new Venza fits in between the smaller RAV4 and the larger Highlander in the Toyota SUV/crossover line-up. It has room for five passengers in two rows of seating.
There are three trims: LE, XLE and Limited. Starting prices range from $32,470 to $39,800. Even the base LE trim comes with a lot of standard features. All-wheel-drive is also standard on all trims.
The Venza is powered by a four-cylinder engine and two electric motors for a combined output of 219 horsepower and 163 pound-feet of torque. There’s enough power for most normal driving situations and the Venza accelerates at a decent clip from a stop thanks to the electric motors. However, the Venza is not athletic. What it does well is give you a smooth, compliant ride from point A to point B. The Venza stays planted when cornering, bumps and rough roads are absorbed by the suspension, and it’s just easy to drive. Visibility is good all the way around.
Fuel economy is decent for a hybrid crossover. EPA ratings for my tester are 40 mpg city and 37 mpg highway with a combined rating of 39. I got 37 mpg during my week with a mix of city and highway driving.
The interior is classy and upscale, similar to what you’d find in a Lexus, Toyota’s high-end brand. Materials look and feel good, and most are soft-touch. Seats are comfy and roomy. Passengers in both rows have decent legroom, but the optional huge glass roof limits headroom. Two adults will be comfortable in the second row; the middle seat has a big hump on the floor due to the large drivetrain.
The 2021 Venza comes well-equipped. Standard features include push-button start, rearview camera, dual-zone automatic climate control, cloth upholstery, power-adjustable driver’s seat, eight-inch touch screen, six speaker audio system, satellite radio, HD Radio, Bluetooth, four USB ports, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Wi-Fi hot spot, and wireless device charging.
Available features include surround-view parking camera system, head-up display, synthetic leather upholstery, power-adjustable passenger seat, heated and ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel, 12.3-inch touchscreen, navigation, nine-speaker JBL audio system, and a panoramic glass roof. The roof has clear or frosted glass and you can change between the two with a touch of a button if you want to limit the amount of sunlight coming into the vehicle.
Standard driver assistance technologies include blind spot monitoring, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, rear cross traffic alert, pedestrian detection, and traffic sign recognition. Some of these are included with Toyota’s Safety Sense 2.0 driver assistance technologies.
Available driver assistance technologies include front and rear parking sensors.
Toyota’s Entune Infotainment system is generally straight forward. However, the larger 12.3-inch screen on the upper trims is a bit annoying because even basic functions like adjusting volume have to be done through the touchscreen—there are no physical knobs or buttons. Another peeve: the system always reverts back to the home screen.
Cargo space is below average for the class. There are 28.7 cubic feet with both rows of seating in pace and 54.9 cubes with the second row folded down. The rear seats fold flat, providing flexibility in hauling large or bulky items. However, the liftover height is rather high so be ready to hoist those items up. A hands-free liftgate is standard.
Smooth, comfortable ride
Good fuel economy
Lots of standard and available features
Standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
Lackluster driving dynamics
Infotainment system with larger screen can be annoying
Not as much cargo room as rivals
My tester starts at $39,800. The Advanced Technology Package is $725 and includes a head-up display with speedometer and hybrid system indicators, and rain-sensing variable intermittent windshield wipers. Star Gaze fixed panoramic roof is $1,400. Delivery fee is $1,175 bringing the grand total to $43,100.
While the 2021 Venza isn’t terribly exciting to drive, it’s stylish with an upscale cabin, excels at providing a smooth, comfortable ride and has good fuel economy for the class. But if performance is important to you and you want a lot of cargo space, the Venza probably won’t be your first choice.