By Randi Payton
Decisive Media Network
Toyota reintroduced the Venza crossover to the U.S. in 2021 as a hybrid with two electric motors, a modern design, and premium features. The new Venza, positioned between the RAV4 crossover and the mid-size Highlander SUV, offers superb fuel economy and great value at a lower price range.
The original Toyota Venza, first launched in 2008, was discontinued in 2015 after facing tough competition and declining sales. This time around, the new Venza stands out in the crowded crossover SUV segment with its stylish contemporary design.
With Toyota’s latest hybrid technology and luxurious style, there’s plenty of wiggle room in the crossover segment for the new Venza, especially since its little brother, the RAV4, has been the SUV sales leader for four consecutive years.
Although they share the same platform, the RAV4 offers gasoline and hybrid versions, while the Venza is exclusively hybrid and better equipped than the RAV4. However, the Venza is slightly larger than the RAV4 on the outside and about the same inside.
The 2021 Venza comes with Toyota’s Safety Sense 2.0 system, which includes: Pre-collision with pedestrian detection, full-speed range dynamic radar cruise control, lane-departure alert with steering and lane-tracing assists, auto-high beams, road-sign assist, eight airbags, a start-safety system, backup alert with dynamic gridlines, rear camera, blind-spot monitor with front and rear parking assist and automatic braking.
The base model Venza comes with a standard 8.0-inch touchscreen on the dash and an optional 12.3-inch multimedia display, which is standard on the Limited edition. In addition, all models come with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa. The larger screen includes in-dash navigation and a JBL premium stereo system with nine speakers.
The Venza Limited is the first Toyota to come with an optional electrochromic sunroof called “Star Gaze,” a fixed panoramic glass rooftop. One switch changes the top from clear glass to opaque white, which blocks out the sun. The feature is only available on high-end luxury vehicles. Unlike a traditional moonroof, the glass top does not open.
Power: The 2021 Venza, powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine and three electric motors, produces a combined 219 horsepower. One electric motor powers the rear wheels, while the gasoline engine and two other motors control the front wheels. This advanced all-wheel-drive system is standard on all models.
The Venza hybrid transmission includes four driving modes: EV, Eco, Normal, and Sport. It switches smoothly between the gasoline and EV mode without hesitation. Like the Prius models, you can’t hear the motor running, and it uses electric torque to accelerate effortlessly.
Models/Pricing: The 2021 Venza hybrid comes in three levels: The LE starts at $33,885 MSRP, the XLE is $37,415, and the Limited model starts at $39,800 MSRP. The top-of-line Limited comes fully loaded with all the performance and safety features you need.
Fuel Economy: 40 mpg city/37 highway mpg.
The price tag, as tested for the 2021 Toyota Venza Limited Hybrid, was $39,800 MSRP. Options included an advanced tech package with a heads-up display, hybrid system indicators, variable intermittent windshield wipers, Star Glaze fixed-panoramic roof, a blizzard pearl premium color, and a delivery charge of $1,175. The final sticker price came to $43,525 MSRP.
For a complimentary subscription to the latest car and truck reviews, visit www.decisivemedia.net. Randi Payton, Decisive Media Network.