The Toyota Venza is getting a second life, as a hybrid. Here’s what we know so far about the returning Toyota crossover.
Toyota dropped the Venza back in 2015. The oddly styled SUV (it looked a little too much like Toyota’s minivan, the Sienna) had suffered from a lack of purpose and personality. Jump forward to 2021 and Toyota is looking to fill that two-row SUV-sized gap in its line-up by reviving the Venza nameplate. Slotting in between the RAV4 and the Highlander hadn’t been enough for the Venza to succeed the first time. So, what’s going to distinguish the Venza this go-around?
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Two things have us very excited about the new Venza. First, you may have already noticed this revamp has done wonders to the Venza’s appearance. In part, that’s because the “new” Venza is actually the Toyota Harrier brought over from the Japanese market, and the Harrier, in turn, is pretty much a rebadged Lexus RX.
The new Venza looks great, but that might not be the biggest headline about it. The bigger news is the powertrain. The 2021 Venza is going to be offered exclusively as a hybrid. This will be the same set up as the RAV4 hybrid with a 2.5-liter naturally aspirated 4-cylinder working in consort with 3 electric motors producing 219hp and getting approximately 40mpg combined. The new Venza will have “Electric On-Demand” AWD able to shift the power from a ratio 100:0 front-to-back to 20:80 when on slippery surfaces.
The new Venza is a two-row SUV aimed at taking on the likes of the Chevrolet Blazer, Honda Passport, and Hyundai Santa Fe. It shares the same TNGA-K platform as the RAV4 and Highlander. Though its wheelbase matches that of the RAV4 (105.9”), it actually adds 5.9” in body length. But that doesn’t mean we get more in terms of cabin space. The Venza will have 36 cu. ft. of cargo room behind the rear seats. That’s actually 2 cu. ft. less than the RAV4.
What we do get from the new Venza is style. Building off the RX/Harrier means the Venza sports an upscale design and interior aesthetic that you won’t find in the more proletarian RAV4. The dash features clean lines and a simplified layout that directly contrasts with the bulk of Toyota’s offerings.
Good looks and a hybrid powertrain aren’t the only reasons to get excited about the new Venza. In keeping with the semi-luxury theme, Toyota loads up the Venza with plenty of standard features and some truly novel new tricks.
Some of the high-end features on the new Venza include an optional 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen, a 10-inch HUD (heads-up display), memory power driver’s seat, and heated and ventilated front seats. The JBL stereo upgrade has a 1,200-watt amp, the most powerful ever offered in a Toyota. Most compelling of all though is the new Star Gaze panoramic glass roof. This roof features “electro-chromatic” technology that can turn the glass from transparent to frosted with the press of a button.
The new Toyota Venza looks great, sips fuel, and comes with exclusive features. So, does that mean this upscale SUV commands an upscale price? Yes and no. The Venza will start at around $34,000, right in line with the larger Highlander and about $10,000 more than the base level RAV4. At the top trim Limited, the Venza will run approximately $42,000 (the Highlander Platinum rings up at $46,000 for the gas version and $48,000 for the hybrid).
To put that in perspective, the 2020 Lexus RX 350, from which the Venza is derived, starts at just over $44,000. From the look of it, the new 2021 Toyota Venza is an excellent midway point between the RAV4 and the RX 350. Hyundai and Mazda have been working their tails off to improve their brand image by going upmarket. It would appear, in the case of the new Venza at least, Toyota is looking to do the same.
The new 2021 Toyota Venza is slated to go on sale in August of 2020.