Toyota's Venza Hybrid offers economy, comfort, and utility
Toyota reinvented the midsize two-row Venza crossover for 2021, so we're not expecting big changes for 2022. We had an opportunity to get behind the wheel in advance of November's Los Angeles Auto Show, to refresh our impressions of Toyota's often-overlooked five-seat midsize SUV.
The first thing to know about the Venza is that it's now a hybrid. There is no non-hybrid option any more. That's a good thing, because the hybrid offers generally good performance and excellent fuel economy. Between the 2.5-liter gas engine and the hybrid electric motor, the Venza delivers 219 total system horsepower and 163 pound-feet of torque. All-wheel-drive happens courtesy of an additional electric motor to drive the rear wheels, and that contributes to the total horsepower rating.
The second thing you need to know about the Venza is that it seats five adults. Unlike most midsize SUVs, Toyota has not stretched the Venza to squeeze in a third row of seats. If you want a three-row SUV, Toyota has the midsize Highlander or the larger Sequoia for you. But what you get with the Venza is relaxed. and comfortable two-row seating. Three-row SUVs often compromise second-row leg room, which is why two-row options are more comfortable if you don't need that cramped third row. Cargo space is good, with 28.8 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second-row seats, and up to 55.1 cubic feet with the seats folded down.
Inside, the Venza offers a comfortable and usable space with a number of notable high-tech features. Among these are the camera-based rear view mirror. You can switch this to offer an actual mirror, but once you turn on the camera you'll probably never go back. The rear-facing camera provides a clear view of everything behind you instead of making you look over the rear seat headrests. It also compensates for low light, so dusk and nighttime driving becomes a little easier.
The dashboard infotainment tech is also advanced, with a choice of an 8-inch or 12.3-inch touchscreen display. Toyota allows integration of your Apple, Android, or Alexa devices. Optionally, there's a JBL sound system and onboard GPS navigation. Another option worth considering is the 10-inch color head-up display. This puts critical driving information right in your field of vision, projected onto the windshield.
Venza also comes with the Toyota Safety Sense (TSS) package on every trim level. TSS includes lane keeping assistance, automatic high beams, road sign assistance, and rear seat reminders. The Venza also includes standard adaptive cruise control to help you follow prevailing traffic speeds. Every Venza includes standard blind spot monitoring, while higher trims add front and rear parking assist with automatic braking. This makes the Venza a great choice both for growing families and empty-nesters.
One option you may have to order is the Star Gaze panoramic glass roof. This is a tech feature that uses electrochromatic glass that you can change from clear to frosted with the touch of a button. This is handy on bright summer days when you don't want the heat or the glare of a clear glass roof.
On the road, the Venza provides plenty of power for normal driving, and you can forget that the hybrid is even there. The Venza will manage the driveline for you, and all you'll notice is the truly outstanding fuel economy. The Venza is easy to drive, with good visibility all around.
Toyota has not yet announced pricing for the 2022 Venza, but head to your area Toyota dealer to find out when the new model year vehicles will be arriving and get your order in. If you're looking for a near-luxury two-row SUV, the Venza deserves to be on your test-drive list.
2021 Toyota Venza
Base price: $32,570 (2021 price)
Price as tested: $37,275 (2021 price)
Type: Midsize crossover SUV
Engine: 2.5-liter hybrid (219 hp, 163 lbs-ft)
Transmission: Continuously Variable Transmission
EPA estimated mileage: 40/37
Overall length: 186.6 inches
Curb weight: 3,913 pounds
Final assembly: Kashihara, Japan
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