2021 Toyota Venza

Upscale qualities give SUV buyers another option

Roseville, Calif.- Toyota did such a nice job in reintroducing the Venza that it would not look out of place under the Lexus brand, Toyota’s luxury division.

Unlike its predecessors, the 2021 Toyota Venza is no longer exclusively a gas-powered midsize crossover sport utility vehicle. It’s been rebranded solely as a hybrid, one that is bolstered by two electric motors.

The new Venza has an exterior look that is stylish and classy, while the posh interior is also attractive, comfortable and has a plethora of standard features. These are all good reasons to assume the Venza could be under the Lexus flag and no one would question why.

A little refresher might be needed regarding the Venza. It originally came out in 2009 and quickly won approval with sales of 54,410. However, sales dipped every year but one after that. And when the numbers slid to 21,351 in 2015, Toyota pulled the plug, citing competitiveness within the class, customer preference and declining sales.

All is not perfect with the new Venza. It’s smaller than many other midsize SUVs and has less cargo area. Some critics believe going with the less-expensive Toyota RAV4 hybrid is preferable.

Despite being a compact SUV, the RAV4 is nearly the same size as a Venza, offers more cargo area, and the fuel economy is almost identical. The Venza base price ($32,700) is roughly $4,000 more than the RAV4.

What the RAV4 doesn’t possess is the curb appeal, performance capability, upscale cabin, and standard all-wheel drive like the Venza.

The Venza employs a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine with dual electric motors that combine to produce 219 horsepower, and is paired with a continuously variable automatic transmission.

AT A GLANCE – 2021 TOYOTA VENZA

  • Performance: two electric motors, 2.5-liter, four-cylinder, 219 horsepower
  • Mileage estimate: 37-40 mpg
  • Price estimate: $32,700 to $39,900
  • Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles; Drivetrain: 85years/60,000 miles; Roadside assistance: 2 years/unlimited; Corrosion: 5 years/unlimited;

Performance & Safety

We found the Venza’s performance more than adequate on mountainous passes, freeway passing lanes, and in every-day driving. It goes approximately 0-60 mph in 7.5 seconds. The fuel economy is more impressive – 37-40 mpg and roughly 580 miles before it needs refueling.

Another strength of the Venza is driving capability. It offers a smooth, quiet ride and absorbs any road imperfections with ease. It does fall short of sporty and providing that “fun” ride many seek.

The Venza delivers in the safety department, providing standard features like lane centering assist, forward collision mitigation with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert, and adaptive cruise control.

Interior & Infotainment

interior 2021 Venza

A highly functioning 8-inch infotainment screen (12.3 inch is an option) is user-friendly in most instances. CarPlay and Android Auto integration are standard features, along with four USB ports and a wireless charger. We would prefer standard push buttons and knobs, rather than touch-sensitive radio and climate controls.

Venza seating is comfortable and supportive, and there’s plenty of head and leg room for 6-footers in both rows. Behind the second row is 28.8 cubic feet of storage space that expands to 54.9 cubes with the seats folded to the floor.

A cool optional feature is the tint-on-demand electrochromic panoramic sunroof. One push of the button and the sunroof switches from clear glass to opaque white, a move that blocks out most of the direct sun and limits the heat.

More refined than the RAV4 hybrid, the 2021 Toyota Venza hybrid gives SUV buyers another option to consider. The Venza is not a Lexus, yet has many of the upscale qualities that put it close. It’s definitely worth a look when shopping for a midsize hybrid SUV.