This week we are taking a look at the all-new 2021 Toyota Venza SUV. This is the second time Toyota has produced the Venza, the first was from 2008 to 2015. What makes the Venza special is that all of them are hybrids and all of them are all-wheel drive.
Toyota had a gaping hole in its lineup and the Venza filled it. There was no SUV between the RAV4 and Highlander, so the Venza was much needed to compete with Honda Passport, Nissan Murano, Ford Edge, and others.
Let’s dive right into the powertrain setup. You start with the popular 2.5-liter inline 4-cylinder gas engine, then add to that two electric motors in the front, and one more in the rear, for a total of three.
The electric motors are powered by a 252-volt Lithium Ion battery that is located under the back seat and by the way, the hybrid batteries come with a 10-year/150,000 mile warranty.
This setup combined with a shiftable continuously variable transmission produces 219-horses, but feels like more, especially under heavy acceleration when the electric motors kick in. Note that this is not a plug-in hybrid, the batteries recharge from the gas engine and also when the brakes are applied. The switchover from gas to electric is seamless.
The exterior looks super and you can see a true Lexus influence. The raised hood and sculpted rear-end with a spoiler and dual exhaust, along with sharp 19” wheels make this a very attractive SUV. You have to love the unusual look of the taillights.
The Venza comes in three trim levels, the LE, the XLE, and the top-of-the-line Limited, which is what you see here. When you open the door, you see a very nice interior with bolstered seats and stitching everywhere. It is impressive that everything you touch is very soft on the inside.
The gauges are bright, easy to read, and very configurable. In the center of the dash is a large 12.3” infotainment system that features navigation, Bluetooth, Apple Car play, Android auto, apps, and voice activation.
Toyota thought of everything in this SUV. You can move the screen with a touch of the arrow so the passenger can control the audio. The center console has a wireless charger, and there are removable plates in the cupholders in case you have tall water bottles or glasses, VERY handy.
From the center console, which slides forward and backwards, you can change drive modes from sport, to normal, to Eco and you can go to pure EV, which will power the SUV for short distances with no gas used. You can also activate brake hold, a great feature that allows you to take your foot off the brake when stopped.
Standard Features and Options
The Venza Limited comes with an impressive list of standard features like LED headlights and taillights, the navigation system, power hands free liftgate, a 9-speaker JBL sound system, heated and cooled front seats, a heated steering wheel, and SofTex seats.
A word about SofTex seats: SofTex is a synthetic leather seat material that is designed for wear, easy cleaning and resisting spills. SofTex weighs about half as much as genuine leather and is soft to the touch. SofTex leather generates about 85% fewer CO2 emissions and 99% fewer Volatile Organic Compounds than conventional synthetic leather. SofTex material also does not include any animal-based material. A benefit of SofTex seats that customers love is that SofTex material reflects sunlight which means they do not get warm like traditional leather seats do. You do miss that leather smell, however.
Options include the $795 Advanced Technology Package, which is primarily the Head-Up display that shows you the speed and hybrid system indicators. There are some glare issues, unfortunately, but most of the time it works great.
My test vehicle also has the Star Gaze Panoramic moonroof, it’s pretty cool and costs $1400. With the push of a button you can change the entire glass from clear to frosted, almost white. There is also a power cover that shuts off all light coming in if needed during the summer.
On the safety front, you get pre-collision detection, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning with steering assist, backup camera with washer, blind spot monitoring, and park assist.
Leg and headroom for all 5 occupants are good and the cargo area is very nice too, with over 36 cubic-feet of storage without the back seat folded down.
Ride and Drive
The Venza is very quiet inside, it drives and handles well, I am truly impressed with the entire package and glad to see Toyota have an entry into the mid-sized SUV segment, one of the most popular in America.
Fuel economy is fantastic compared to the competition. It is rated at 40 in town, 37 highway, and 39 overall and it is getting every bit of that.
What You’ll Pay
Toyota held the price down to a reasonable $43,100, which is terrific for the technology you get in this top-of-the-line SUV.
I have to say that Toyota knocked it out of the park with the 2021 Venza.
2021 Venza Limited
- What I liked most: Looks, fuel economy, driving dynamics.
- What I would change: Give me a volume knob for the sound system.
- MSRP: Base price $39,600 as equipped $43,100.
- Fuel Economy: Rated at 40 in town/ 37 highway/39 overall.
- Official Color: Coastal Gray Metallic.
- Odometer reading when tested: 300 miles.
- Weight: 3,913 pounds
- Spare Tire: Full-sized spare.
- Length-Width-Height: 186.6” long/73” wide/65.9” tall.
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 14.5 gallons with the filler on the driver's side.
- Towing Capacity: N/A
- 2021 Venza in a few words: To be able to get 39 miles per gallon in a very enjoyable SUV is awesome.
- Final Assembly Location: Toyota, Aichi, Japan.
- Manufacturers website: Toyota
- Warranty: Toyota Care includes all scheduled maintenance for two years or 25,000 miles, 36-month/36,000 mile bumper-to-bumper, 5-year/60,000 mile powertrain warranty, and 10-year/150,000 hybrid battery coverage.