By Larry Lark, contributor
Many people are unfamiliar with Toyota’s Venza, but not for long.
Slotted between the compact RAV4 and the full-size Highlander, Venza Limited Hybrid is the Goldilocks model in Toyota’s crossover utility lineup.
Venza delivers the best of both worlds: sedan-like driving comfort and CUV versatility. The two-row, mid-size model delivers an intuitive driving experience with smooth acceleration, predictable handling, low noise and vibration, wrapped in a sophisticated design.
Venza seats up to five adults with room for cargo, and delivers almost 40 miles per gallon fuel economy. It comes in LE, Limited and XLE trims.
The exterior benefits from clean, expressive lines, a “Coastal Gray Metallic” coat of enamel, and 19-inch multi-spoke, super chrome alloy wheels.
The all-new 2021 Venza comes equipped exclusively with the Toyota Hybrid System II powertrain and advanced Electronic On-Demand All-Wheel Drive.
Powered by a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine and three electric motor hybrid system paired with an automatic, continuously variable transmission, Venza delivers 219 horsepower. 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.
Selectable NORMAL, ECO and SPORT driving modes let the driver tailor the Venza’s performance personality. SPORT mode improves and sharpens throttle response, making fuel efficiency more fun. ECO mode changes the throttle and environmental logic to help the driver focus on maximizing mileage from the fuel and battery, while NORMAL mode is ideal for everyday driving. Additionally, EV mode allows electric-only driving at low speeds for short distances.
A host of tech-focused features are available, including a 12.3-inch touchscreen display with nine JBL speakers, seven-inch multi-information display, digital rear-view mirror, and 10-inch color heads-up display. Other available features include a “Star Gaze” fixed panoramic glass roof, a first-ever for Toyota, and heated and ventilated front seats that set the stage for true, graceful grand touring.
“Star Gaze” electrochromic glass technology allows drivers to switch from transparent to frosted modes within one-second using the ON/OFF button. In the frosted mode, “Star Gaze” brightens the interior while reducing direct sunlight, giving the cabin an even more open, airy, and inviting feeling.
Other creature comforts include dynamic navigation, JBL premium audio with nine speakers including a subwoofer and amplifier, hands-free Bluetooth heated steering wheel, backup camera with gridlines, three USB charging ports, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a hands-free power lift-gate.
Toyota Sense safety has been beefed up to provide more driver confidence then ever.
The comprehensive suite of active safety systems includes a pre-collision braking system with daytime/low-light vehicle and pedestrian detection, plus daytime bicyclist detection, full-speed range dynamic radar cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assist, automatic high beams, lane tracing assist, road sign assist, blind spot monitoring, and parking assist with automatic braking.
Competitively priced with a base under $40,000, Venza adds to Toyota’s tried and true powerhouse lineup.
Base Price: $39,800
Price As Driven: $43100
Destination charge is included in base price. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturer. List price may vary at local dealerships.