Base price in Canada is $39,150, and $33,240 in the US.
The Venza is like a funnel where everything SUV buyers need ends up.
The needs? Space, comfort, luxury, and fuel efficiency.
When I first drove the Toyota Venza two years ago, I said it was a niche product that had arrived right on time. I could not have been more right about the Venza’s timing and Toyota could have made a better decision by offering it as a hybrid-only midsize SUV.
There’s lots to say about Toyota’s reticence over converting all car and SUV fleets to electric vehicles. If anything, for the mega Japanese automaker, in some way, resisting the tide allowed them to drop hybrid powertrains in most of its vehicles. This move, in 2021, 2022, and for the next two years or so, will prove to be a stroke of genius.
In many parts of Canada and the US, buying a hybrid Toyota vehicle requires months and months and months of patience. I recently once more entertained buying a new Sienna but immediately dropped the idea when I learned that wait times hovered around 18 months. 18 MONTHS FOR A MINIVAN! Yes, delivery delays are long all around but not this long.
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Hybrid is the current solution, and it’s a good one
Its sole powertrain is one of the many key aspects of the brilliance behind the Toyota Venza. The 2.5-litre 4-cylinder Atkinson-cycle engine is mated to a trio of electric motors for a total system output power of 219 horsepower. Nothing overly exciting power-wise but it works quite well.
One of the electric motors is mounted on the rear axle and is responsible for much of the initial heavy lifting. It’s on when starting from a dead-start, forwards or back, in the toughest of conditions, and can make use of up to 80% of available torque. This instant torque also delivers spritely sprints from a dead-stop.
An Electronically Controlled Continuously Variable Transmission (ECVT) is standard as is AWD as noted. All-season driving is a breeze, never worrisome, and above all, extremely efficient. This is key. While so many of us auto critics, present company included, are hyper-focus on performance, the Venza’s performance and what really matters is that with little effort, the SUV will consume 6L/100km or less. A midsize PHEV SUV from Kia and Hyundai won’t beat this number.
Finally, the 2022 Toyota Venza is far from boring to drive. Its main MO is comfort, which it delivers in droves, but it will stay with you on the twisty country road between the cottage and the convenience store when you run out to get some milk and bread.
Premium and unique styling
There’s no debating the 2022 Toyota Venza’s on-road real-world efficiency. What can be discussed is its exterior styling. As I’ve said before, this SUV looks like no other in Toyota’s current lineup. For many, it could pass as a Lexus vehicle which was likely done on purpose. Nevertheless, the Venza is stylish if possibly an acquired taste. And a taste most will love once they experience
Premium and luxurious are two words that appropriately describe the Venza’s cabin. The dashboard’s design is, like its outer shell, almost at odds with the remainder of Toyota’s vehicles. Surfaces are smooth, rounded, and more for looks than function.
The 12.3-inch touchscreen, standard with the Limited (8-inch with the LE and XLE) is easy to work through that to its size and responsiveness. Unfortunately, the absence of physical buttons and switches does pose small issues. Selecting the right function requires concentration and because the surface is glossy, the sun can make it difficult to make out the function. Thankfully, the ergonomics are nearly perfect.
Seats in both rows are comfortable and in the $48,550 Limited, including 4-way power lumbar adjustments. Rear passengers get reclining seatbacks and, in both rows, there’s plenty of room to get cozy. The trunk is generous enough. At 816 litres, it’s far from the largest but can hold three, possibly up to four golf bags with relative ease.
Easy to live with
There are other hybrid alternatives in the segment including the Hyundai Santa Fe and Jeep Grand Cherokee. The Korean SUV, and its twin, are not as efficient as hybrids and unless always plugging the PHEV iterations, they too are not as efficient. The PHEV Jeep is far more expensive and needs to always be cabled as well.
Other options include the Honda Passport, GMC Acadia/Chevrolet Blazer, Nissan Murano, Ford Edge, Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport, and potentially one or two more. Fact is, unless it’s an EV, it won’t beat the Venza for fuel mileage.
The 2022 Toyota Venza isn’t exciting per say but it is extremely accommodating, comfortable, and easy to live with. Put your name on a list, now.