Sure, that is a Venza.

Tim Stevens/Roadshow

It is fairly widespread, anticipated even, {that a} given mannequin of automotive will develop and develop because it ages by subsequent redesigns and refreshes. Like many people, vehicles get greater as they become older. However, it isn’t day by day {that a} given mannequin genuinely strikes up-market, providing the identical degree of function and performance however in a nicer bundle. On this method, the brand new Venza is a little bit of a uncommon hen, its 2021 mannequin 12 months reboot turning this machine from a frumpy household hauler to a clear, sharp and genuinely premium SUV.


Sharp new looksGood effectivity and drivabilityThat loopy roof

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Entune wants the same retooling

And that is essential as a result of there are oh so many crossovers and SUVs to select from nowadays. Hell, simply conserving within the household you’ve got the C-HR, RAV4, Highlander, 4Runner, Sequoia and Land Cruiser to select from. How, then, does a product just like the Venza break from the den of anonymity?

Effectively, it begins off with a recent new look that is sharp and distinctive whereas nonetheless honoring its Toyota DNA, notably the gaping decrease grille and aggressively pronounced rear fenders. In comparison with its van-like, household pleasant predecessor, it is a revelation.

The inside reboot is simply as drastic, particularly when outfitted with the 12.3-inch touchscreen that is commonplace on the Restricted-trim mannequin you see right here, non-compulsory on the decrease specs. Beneath that, the Restricted encompasses a clean panel of capacitive-touch buttons that appears nice, although the dearth of a quantity knob is, as ever, a bummer.

Maintain transferring right down to discover a Qi inductive charging pad for conserving your cellphone topped up wirelessly, located in a beneficiant cubby into which Toyota engineers curiously noticed match to cover the engine begin button. That storage compartment, plus the remainder of the inside, is rimmed with delicate, coloured lighting — useful, as a result of it is awfully darkish in any other case.

That is assured to get a “whoa” out of your most jaded of passengers, and when’s the final time a sensible SUV did that?  

Additionally useful is the panoramic glass ceiling, which not solely allows a lot of mild however hides the Venza’s greatest occasion trick. That cup is (optionally) electrochromic, that means on the contact of a button it clicks to a foggy opaque. That is assured to get a “whoa” out of your most jaded of passengers, and when’s the final time a sensible SUV did that?

Sadly, the software program working in right here is not prone to garner such a response. Up on that huge, pronounced touchscreen you may discover Toyota’s tried-and-true Entune system. That is a well mannered method of claiming it appears low-res and dated, particularly the navigation interface. Fortunately, with each Android Auto and Apple CarPlay onboard, you’ll be able to no less than conceal all that fairly rapidly.

What is going on on below the hood is way extra trendy, with each model of the Venza spinning the identical 2.5-liter, Atkinson-cycle inline-four-cylinder engine paired up with not one, not two, however three electrical motors. The 2 up entrance assist the gasoline engine, whereas the one on the again offers this SUV’s all-wheel-drive functionality.

There’s rather a lot happening right here.

Tim Stevens/Roadshow

Along with the 0.9 kWh price of lithium-ion batteries, Toyota says this method offers 219 horsepower, with 176 hp and 163 pound-feet of torque coming from the gasoline engine alone. Meaning a decidedly front-biased energy supply. Curiously, regardless of the tiny battery and never being a plug-in, the Venza might be pushed in a full-electric mode… type of. Prime velocity right here is someplace within the neighborhood of 20 mph and, do you have to nuzzle the throttle with something greater than a kitten’s contact, the engine spins up and also you’re rudely kicked from the the land that is freed from emissions. Nonetheless, it is good for calm cruises by parking heaps or silent, early morning escapes from ninjas.

When pressed more durable the Venza accelerates cleanly and easily, the CVT eliminating shifts however leading to typical engine drone. Nonetheless, it isn’t a lot of a hassle and, whether or not you are in Eco or Sport mode, the Venza has greater than sufficient pep to get you forward in site visitors. On condition that, I spent most of my week in Eco mode and acquired a greater than respectable 40.5 miles-per-gallon. That is only a half a tick forward of the Venza’s EPA-rated 40 mpg freeway, 37 metropolis and 39 mixed.

On the experience dealing with aspect, the Venza is certainly tuned for consolation, gliding by reasonably than carving corners and absorbing the worst of asphalt imperfections with out transmitting them into the cabin. Whether or not seated up entrance or out again there’s loads of consolation available, loads of headroom too, my solely (minor) grievance being ventilated seats of the “Wait, are these really on?” selection.

Clear skies above… if you happen to push the fitting button.

Tim Stevens/Roadshow

The 2021 Toyota Venza begins at $32,470 plus $860 supply, whereas the Restricted model I examined raises the beginning value to $39,800. Restricted provides treats like an overhead, 360-degree digicam, trim niceties like the inside illumination, heated and ventilated entrance seats and entry to that Star Gaze roof — although that is a further $1,400.

The nice information is that Toyota’s Security Sense 2.0 ADAS system comes commonplace on the bottom trim, together with lane-departure warnings, adaptive cruise and blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alerts. Given the powertrain additionally stays unchanged, it is actually simply luxuries you are paying a premium for, however given how pampered you’re feeling within the Restricted, it nonetheless looks like good worth. That is very true if you happen to evaluate it to one thing just like the corporate-cousin Lexus NX Hybrid, which begins at $40,060 plus $1,025 supply.

So, then, think about this rebirth successful. The 2021 Toyota Venza impresses on a number of ranges. It appears good, drives nicely and does a remarkably good job of enjoying the posh sport. It is a standout in an ever-expanding sea of me-too SUVs. 


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