The 2021 Toyota Venza starts at $32,670 in the U.S. and at $38,490 in Canada, freight and delivery charges excluded.
Refined ride, interesting design, great fuel economy.
Not that fun to drive, small cargo area, can’t tow anything.
Must we absolutely choose a fully electric vehicle to become an eco-friendly motorist? That time will inevitably come, but in the meanwhile, a hybrid model such as the 2021 Toyota Venza will do the trick just fine.
Without breaking a sweat, without requiring us to plug it in every night or hunt down charging stations on our journey, the Venza provides a combined city/highway fuel economy rating of 39 mpg in the U.S. and 6.1 L/100 km in Canada. Not bad for a midsize crossover vehicle. Actually, that’s rather impressive.
It must be said that the 2021 Toyota Venza isn’t a vehicle like any other in the midsize two-row utility vehicle segment, in which we also find the Chevrolet Blazer, the Nissan Murano, the Ford Edge, the Honda Passport, the Hyundai Santa Fe, the Jeep Grand Cherokee and the Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport, among others. In order to reduce the development costs of this second-generation Venza, the automaker used the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid’s architecture and powertrain. The first generation was built on Camry bones.
So, the Venza rides on the same wheelbase as the RAV4, making it the shortest in the midsize category. In overall length and height, the new Toyota crossover also ranks at the bottom of the list. Designers managed to stretch the vehicle’s body as much as they could without making it look weird, even if it boasts noticeable front and rear overhangs.
Same thing regarding interior space, as the 2021 Toyota Venza ranks below average in all dimensions. The cargo area, with its 28.8 cubic feet (816 litres) behind the rear seats and 55.1 cubic feet (1,560 litres) with the seatbacks folded down, is out of sync with the capacities of its rivals. Feel like hooking up a small camper for a weekend getaway? Forget it with the Venza, since the automaker doesn’t recommend it for towing.
Of course, this crossover shines above all for its fuel economy. It’s equipped with an Atkinson-cycle 2.5L four-cylinder engine, two electric motors, an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission and a 1 kWh battery pack. Combined output is rated at 219 horsepower, allowing for respectable and smooth performance. All-wheel drive is standard, even in the United States.
On very short distances, at slow speeds, we can run solely on electric propulsion, but generally, we can simply let the system manage transitions between the combustion engine and the electric motors by itself—and their collective efforts, too. During our test, we observed an excellent average of 41 mpg or 5.7 L/100 km. Thanks to this efficiency, Toyota installed a fuel tank with a capacity of only 14.5 gallons (55 litres), providing a driving range of about 560 miles or 900 km.
The 2021 Toyota Venza starts at $32,670 before freight and delivery charges in the U.S., and at $38,490 in Canada, while the well-equipped XLE is listed at $36,200 / $44,745. The top-shelf Limited, which only adds a few items compared to the XLE, rings in at $40,000 / $47,945.
Why You Should Buy a 2021 Toyota Venza
- As mentioned above, the Venza is all about soaking up as little fuel as possible. It’s the most efficient two-row midsize crossover currently on the market, beating out the Santa Fe Hybrid by a noticeable margin, with a combined rating of 39 mpg versus 34 (6.1 L/100 km versus 7.4). A PHEV variant of the Hyundai is available, though, something the Venza doesn’t offer for now.
- Ride comfort and a quiet cabin are also strong points for the 2021 Toyota Venza. There’s plenty of room for four adults heading out for road trips, and the panoramic glass roof available on the Limited trim level brings tons of light and atmosphere inside the vehicle.
- Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 is standard across the board, rounding up autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert and lane keep assist, automatic high beams, full-speed range adaptive cruise control and road sign assist. Blind spot monitoring is also included in every trim level.
- The Venza’s interior design is upscale, with stitched leatherette trim on the dashboard and door panels in the XLE and Limited variants, in addition to a tasteful selection of bright accenting. An eight-inch infotainment touchscreen is standard, while a 12.3-inch display matched and an enjoyable nine-speaker JBL sound system are optional.
- As with almost all Toyota products, the Venza has a reputation for being reliable, even though this second-generation model is in its first year on the market. We can expect high resale values as well. In short, it’s a strong rational purchase.
Why You Shouldn’t Buy a 2021 Toyota Venza
- Hooray for saving fuel and the planet, but the Venza isn’t all that fun to drive. It’s not a chore, mind you, but some midsize crossovers are just more satisfying to flog around. There’s just no emotion here.
- As mentioned above, the 2021 Toyota Venza isn’t rated for towing. It can’t even pull a small trailer with an ATV or a watercraft on it. That’s a shame.
- Cargo space is among the smallest in the midsize utility vehicle category. Models such as the Passport, the Edge and the Atlas Cross Sport are way more versatile.
- The Venza’s optional infotainment touchscreen is big, but it’s perched on top of the dash and might be a far reach for some drivers, which is a distraction. In addition, the touch-sensitive audio and climate buttons aren’t as ergonomic as good old rotary dials and physical knobs.
The 2021 Toyota Venza is an SUV that isn’t sporty nor all that utilitarian. It’s a unique proposition in the two-row midsize segment that shines for its fuel consumption, quiet and refined ride and projected reliability.
However, it’s more of a grocery-getting crossover than a rugged and capable vehicle, and it isn’t the most spacious of its category either. We could almost consider it as a more luxurious and more exclusive variant of the RAV4 Hybrid—which actually isn’t a bad idea.