2021 Toyota Venza
- Starting at $32,000 (estimated)
- August 2020
What to expect
- The Venza is all-new for 2021
- Uses an efficient four-cylinder hybrid powertrain
- Standard all-wheel drive
- Introduces the second-generation Toyota Venza
What is the Venza?
After a five-year hiatus, Toyota is resurrecting the Venza name to compete in the rapidly growing midsize crossover segment. The 2021 Toyota Venza will go toe to toe with newer entries in the class, including the Honda Passport and Chevrolet Blazer, as well as stalwarts such as the Ford Edge and Subaru Outback. The segment is defined by its abundance of passenger and cargo room, and the Venza appears to fit the mold. But it's also rocking a hybrid powertrain — potentially giving it an edge in this traditionally thirsty segment.
What's under the Venza's hood?
Like the majority of Toyota's hybrids, the Venza utilizes the automaker's ubiquitous 2.5-liter four-cylinder hybrid powertrain — bringing the number of Toyota hybrids to 10. The system produces a total of 219 horsepower, which is on par with the RAV4 Hybrid. While the power specs aren't exactly thrilling, we found the RAV4 Hybrid's acceleration to be perfectly adequate, and we expect the same from the Venza. The Venza's standard all-wheel-drive system employs three electric motors (two powering the front wheels and one for the rear), which should help it hustle when you press the accelerator pedal.
Since no other two-row midsize offers a hybrid, the Venza's powertrain should make it the fuel economy leader in the segment. Toyota estimates the base LE trim will return 40 mpg combined. For reference, the Subaru Outback is currently the most fuel-efficient midsize crossover, posting an EPA estimate of 29 mpg combined.
How's the Venza's interior?
Our first look at the redesigned Venza's interior shows a fashionable, upscale and tech-forward cabin. The top Limited trim's dashboard is dominated by a floating central touchscreen measuring 12.3 inches (lesser LE and XLE trims come standard with an 8-inch screen). It is flanked by leatherette trim that extends from the center console to the doors. The entire effect is quite appealing.
Other cabin highlights include heated and ventilated front seats, plus a nifty air-conditioning feature that can activate the fans solely for occupied seats for further fuel savings. One of the most intriguing features is the optional Star Gaze panoramic electrochromic glass roof. For those not versed in geek speak, this is glass that can, at the touch of a button, go from transparent to opaque. The latter helps brighten the interior while nullifying the blinding effect of direct sunlight. Once exclusive to high-end Mercedes models, this marks the first time electrochromic glass is being used on a budget-friendly vehicle.
How is the Venza's tech?
Aside from the unique Star Gaze panoramic glass roof, the new Venza comes with tech features that should make it highly competitive in the segment. Optional extras include a head-up display, a surround-view parking camera, a rear camera cleaning system and a digital rearview mirror (which provides a live feed from the rearview camera if passengers or cargo obstruct the rear window). Full integration with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa is standard, as is a standard hands-free liftgate.
The Venza is also equipped with Toyota Safety Sense 2.0, a suite of advanced safety and driving aids. Standard safety features include pre-collision warning with pedestrian and bicycle detection, lane departure mitigation, a blind-spot monitor and adaptive cruise control. The XLE and Limited models further add an automated parking function.
We have seen other automakers resurrect old monikers in this segment to resounding success. With more style and technology than its predecessor, plus a fuel-efficient hybrid system, the Venza has what it takes to surpass the segment leaders. The only hard part is waiting until summer to find out for sure.