Toyota is proud to be the world’s leading manufacturer of hybrid vehicles. Many automotive authorities deem the company’s hybrid technology the best in the business. The Japanese automaker’s Prius debut created a high bar for hybrid fuel efficiency. As of 2020, the company has sold more than 15M hybrids worldwide, including those from its Lexus luxury line. The company claims to have 44 hybrid models on sale globally, and is a major contributor to limiting greenhouse gases. It reduces more than 120M tons of CO2 emissions every year.
The 2021 Venza is a more premium midsize SUV than Toyota’s highly popular RAV4. Though the Venza Hybrid has the same wheelbase as the RAV4, the two SUVs are strikingly different. Built around a version of the Toyota New Global Architecture K platform, which uses high-strength steel, Venza wraps its sedan-like driving ease and 5-seat CUV versatility in a streamlined, sophisticated body.
Looking for a 2-row Sport Utility that’s less “outdoors” and more “upscale,” at a Toyota price you can afford? With its elegant design, cutting-edge tech and Lexus-like comfort, the 2021 Venza will hit your sweet spot.
Venza comes in three trims and they’re ALL hybrids: LE (MSRP: $32,570), XLE (MSRP: $36,100), and Limited (MSRP: $39,900). All three models provide 40/37 EPA-Estimated MPG and come with an impressive 10-year/150,000 mile hybrid battery warranty.
Toyota history buffs may remember that the company built and marketed a 1st-Gen Venza model in the USA between 2008 and 2015, then discontinued it. The second-generation Venza, completely redesigned and upgraded with the latest Toyota tech, was unveiled electronically in the USA on May 18, 2020. The new Venza is built at Toyota’s Takaoka Plant in Japan.
Every Venza comes standard with a power lift-gate, a power-operated tilt-telescoping steering wheel, LED headlights and wireless phone charging. Standard equipment also includes the Toyota Hybrid System II powertrain and advanced Electronic On-Demand All-Wheel Drive.
A 2021 IIHS Top Safety Pick, the Venza Hybrid comes standard with Toyota Safety Sense (TSS 2.0) and a major suite of active safety systems that include: Pre-Collision System with Daytime/Low-Light Vehicle and Pedestrian Detection, plus Daytime Bicyclist Detection (PCS); Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC); Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist (LDA w/SA); Automatic High Beams (AHB); Lane Tracing Assist (LTA); Road Sign Assist (RSA). The 2021 Venza is equipped with eight airbags, including side curtain airbags.
The six additional safety features of Venza’s Star Safety Suite include: Enhanced Vehicle Stability Control (VSC); Traction Control (TRAC); Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS); Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD); Brake Assist (BA) and Smart Stop Technology (SST). XLE and Limited grades come standard with a Smart Key System that works on all five doors.
Venza’s next-gen Toyota Hybrid System combines a high-efficiency 2.5-liter DOHC 4-cylinder engine with three electric motors, which deliver 219 total system horsepower. The powertrain can create fuel efficiency up to 70% cleaner than conventional gas engines and diesels.
Ready for some hybrid tech-talk? Toyota says: “The gas engine employs Variable Valve Timing-intelligent system by Electric motor (VVT-iE) on the intake camshaft, and VVT-i on the exhaust camshaft. A variable cooling system (electric water pump, electric thermostat) and a fully variable oil pump further help improve engine efficiency. As with all Toyota hybrids, the feeling of everyday acceleration and responsiveness is heightened by the way the electric motor boosts low-speed torque. The hybrid system optimizes the level of electric motor assistance and gas engine RPM without the engine running at high revs. Engine speed is synchronized with vehicle speed, yielding effortless and quiet acceleration. Venza’s hybrid system adopts a newly-developed lithium-ion battery to enhance performance and size and weight.”
Instead of using a transfer case and driveshaft running from the engine to the rear axle, Venza’s Electronic On-Demand AWD employs a separate rear-mounted e-motor to power the rear wheels when needed.
Venza offers three driving modes: NORMAL, ECO and SPORT. The NORMAL Mode is used for everyday driving. Using environmental logic, the ECO mode maximizes mileage from the fuel and battery. The SPORT mode sharpens and increases the throttle response. And an EV setting on Venza allows the car to be driven at low speeds in an electric-only mode for short distances.
Venza’s Predictive Efficient Drive (PED) “reads” the road to create maximum MPG. It does this by using the navigation system to analyze driving habits and memorizing traffic and road conditions. When the PED system is selected, it compiles data via driving repeated routes, memorizing where and when the Venza is going to slow, stop or accelerate. By doing so, energy consumption is reduced. When a downhill section of road is traveled, the system applies additional engine braking force to help charge the hybrid battery.
The Venza Hybrid is the first Toyota installed with the manufacturer’s new Star Gaze electrochromic glass technology contained in a fixed panoramic glass roof. Drivers can switch this available option between transparent and frosted modes to brighten the car’s interior.
The LE trim comes with a 4.2-inch color MID. XLE and Limited trims come with a 7-inch color MID. To encourage eco-driving habits, both displays show driver system output, regeneration status and optimal acceleration amounts. An available 10-inch color display projects key driving info at eye level, including speedometer, hybrid system indicator, and TSS 2.0 functions.
Along with standard AM/FM radio, Toyota audio systems provide a list of connectivity tech which includes: Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Amazon Alexa compatibility, Bluetooth wireless technology, and more. Using Apple CarPlay allows access Siri. Android Auto users can activate Google Assistant.
In trying to break the “sameness” barrier to create a new kind of Toyota SUV offering a premium experience, the manufacturer has installed its S-FLOW cooling technology in Venza. The system, which first appeared in Lexus models, directs AC only to occupied seats, reducing energy consumption. Toyota went out of its way to reduce noise in its Venza as well, adopting key ingredients of its Lexus models. Venza’s high-strength TNGA-K platform defeats vibrations from entering the steering, floor and structure. Excellent suspension tuning cuts down on road disturbances. Tire noise is diminished by an acoustic glass windshield. Sound-blocking, absorbing insulation and body sealing are positioned throughout the car structure. And two special resonance chambers minimize intake noise under the hood.
The Venza Hybrid’s standard backup camera uses projected path and dynamic gridlines. An available rear camera cleaning system sprays washer fluid to clear away water droplets, mud, snow, and snow-melting road treatments from the lens. The car’s standard hands-free power lift-gate can be set to lock automatically upon closing.
Also available: a digital rearview mirror with HomeLink universal transceiver lets the driver see what’s behind the vehicle. If passengers or cargo block the view, a flip of a switch on the digital rearview mirror provides a wide, unobstructed view from a rear camera. To further aid outward visibility, the Limited grade comes standard with Bird’s Eye View Camera with Perimeter Scan, which provides a panoramic overhead view of the vehicle’s surroundings.
MOTOR TREND’s reviewer Zach Gale: “Toyota’s new midsize SUV leads with a hybrid-only powertrain and a fresh design. The 2021 Toyota Venza manages to stand out in a segment already filled with many disparate options. We're talking about a midsize SUV that demolishes the competition in efficiency and also resembles a Jaguar F-Pace from behind – if you don't look too closely. There's a lot more to value than just features per dollar and a low out-the-door price. As this is written, the midsize SUV segment is full of heavily incentivized entries such as the Ford Edge, Nissan Murano, and Chevrolet Blazer. If you compare based on the MSRP and fuel costs, however, the Venza becomes a real player. Thanks to the Toyota's far superior mileage, you'll save well over $1,000 in fuel costs by the end of a three-year lease against almost everything in the segment, and that's before considering the hybrid's entertaining low-speed power boost and generally quiet operation.”
CONSUMER REPORTS: “The Venza is a bit more premium than its like-size competition, striking a halfway point between Toyota and Lexus in terms of feel, refinement, and features. It also splits the difference in size between the small and mid-sized classes because it's narrower than direct competitors such as the Ford Edge and Nissan Murano. The Venza hits a sweet spot that should appeal to shoppers who want a thrifty, smartly packaged SUV but don’t want to pay a premium for a model from a luxury brand.”
THECARCONNECTION.COM reviewer Kirk Bell: “The 2021 Toyota Venza brings an upscale flair to the compact crossover class to go with its efficient and reasonably powerful hybrid powertrain. The Venza is quite handsome. It skips the RAV4’s angular, upright, macho looks for a more sculpted, softer, and more upscale look with a flowing coupe-like roofline. Highlighted by chrome trim on the outside and wrapped surfaces on the inside, the 2021 Toyota Venza channels its inner Lexus in a way even current Lexus crossovers can’t match.”
WRITTEN MAY 2021
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