REVIEWED FOR 2021: TOYOTA VENZA HYBRID CUV
Like a cat with nine lives,the Venza Crossover Utility Vehicle (CUV) is back in market as a hybrid after Toyota discontinued the vehicle in 2016.
Venza returns with three trim options – LE, XLE and Limited – all hybrid models, a reminder that Toyota began the eco-friendly car trend back in 2001with the high-mileage/low emissions Prius.
Utilizing Toyota’s RAV4 compact hybrid drivetrain, Venza is an attractive five-seater with excellent mileage, a stylishly designed cabin and competitive pricing when compared to other top trim hybrids.
Monochromatic and aerodynamic in design with LED lights. wheel arches, chrome accents, receding front air vents, rising beltline and protruding front fascia, it has an appealing profile.
Our Venza Limited test drive had three options totaling $2,550 for Blizzard Pearl paint ($425), a technology package ($725) and a Star Gaze fixed panoramic roof with overhead glass ($1,400) that can be turned opaque –an asset on bright sunny days.
Riding on 19-inch wheels, Venza absorbs minor road imperfections with a front strut and rear multi-link suspension. Handling is competent but not crisp.
The 2.5-liter powerplant uses three electric motors; one motor works with the engine to power rear wheels and the other two work to spin front wheels, creating all-wheel drive.
Four drive modes (EV, Eco, Normal and Sport) mesh smoothly with the continuously variable transmission.
Our test model included driving aids like Venza’s Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 that provides strong lane keeping assist and a top camera view for difficult parking. With regard to safety, the Venza has a top safety ranking for crash situations.
The upscale cabin showcases rich looking soft materials with chrome accents and wood-like trim, in addition to good driver visibility and ample headroom.
The Venza has four USB ports, reclining adult-sized comfortable rear seats, stitching and piping on SofTex faux leather trim, JBL audio and three way display 12.3-inch touchscreen with flat controls – no knobs or switches.
Using the touchscreen while driving is distracting and safest to use when stopped. Voice controls manipulate the radio, navigation requests and climate controls.
Voice recognition is good, there is a rear seat exit reminder, an under bumper foot swipe opens the tailgate to an average sized cargo area with a compact spare tire.
There is ample tech and cellphone audio interfaces. Visors fully extend and the Venza comes with a battery warranty and two years of complimentary maintenance. As with most Toyota models, resale value is expected to remain high.
At a Glance
LIKES: Looks, mileage, cabin, modern features
DISLIKES: Below average cargo space, distracting controls
BOTTOM LINE: Venza offers plenty of standard features and a classy cabin
Fact File: 2021 Toyota Venza Hybrid CUV
2.5-liter, 4-cylinder, hybrid w/lithium-ion battery
219 hp@5,700 rpm
163 lbs.-ft.@3,600 rpm
continuously variable automatic
40 mpg city/37 mpg hwy
14.5-gallon tank, regular
0-60 in 7.6 seconds
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Tom Crosby has written more than 1,000 automotive reviews and is a retired Vice President of Communications for AAA Carolinas. He has seen dramatic changes in the automotive industry over the past 25 years and ponders the advent of self-driving vehicles, electric-only vehicles, sophisticated in-car telematics, and the financial challenges facing automotive manufacturers in an increasingly congested worldwide market.