2021 Toyota Venza Limited Review


The original Toyota Venza was a fan favorite in Canada. Us Canadians appreciate hatchback wagons more than our southern neighbors, and the first generation Venza did incredibly well (at least in Canada) between 2009 to 2016. 

Fast Forward to 2021, Toyota has decided to resurrect the Venza nameplate as a Hybrid only crossover SUV. It is based on the company’s XU80 series Harrier SUV that Toyota sells outside of North America. The decision to make the Venza Hybrid only reflects the company’s commitment to launch 40 new or updated electric vehicles by 2025. Does the new Venza have what it takes to continue the legacy of its nameplate?

Thanks to Toyota Canada, I loaded the 2021 Toyota Venza Limited for one week to find out. Below is my unbiased review. 

Other than the seventh generation Celica, I don’t remember being so impressed with the look of another Toyota in a long while. In contrast to the rugged look of the RAV4, the new Venza appears much more refined and sophisticated. 

At the front, the thin LED headlights are highlighted by L-shaped LED light strips for a modern vibe. Long chrome trims separate the massive center grille from the upper and lower ones. The grille is equipped with active shutter to reduce drag. This, coupled with sculptured side air curtains, allow the Venza to achieve great aerodynamic efficiency.

From the side, the Venza looks sporty with beefy rear wheel arches and chiseled door panels. They compliment the long hood and sloped roof of the Venza. Our Limited trim tester comes with 19” alloy wheels that emphasize the low stance of the car. 

My favorite view of the new Venza though, is the rear view. It has a very unique lifegate design that features a slim LED light bar that stretches all the way across. The liftgate is carved below the light bar to make the lights pop even more from the side. The light bar, in conjunction with the two slim LED rear lamps accentuate the width of the Venza from the back.

Overall, the 2021 Venza marks a huge improvement in terms of design language maturity for the current Toyota lineup. It shows a level of sophistication that rivals some European luxury cars.

The interior of the new Venza feels more premium than any other Toyota I have been in. It also boasts some innovative features that I have never seen in a mainstream vehicle. 

The interior is well appointed. The dashboard, center console, and door panels are all wrapped in two-toned padded soft leathers. Sculpted metal trims and faux wood inlays give the interior of the Venza more character.

Below the floating center display and the center air vents are the dreaded touch climate and playback controls. Honda tried this, and they had to bring back a physical knob for volume control after universal complaints. The message is clear, people love their physical knobs and buttons when it comes to accessing frequently used car functionalities. The power button below the touch controls is another weird design quirk. The implementation seems like an afterthought. Not only does it take up storage space in the center console, the whole assembly also sticks out like a sore thumb. I can’t imagine it being too difficult to incorporate the power button onto the dashboard for a more integrated look.

Beside those quirks though, the cabin of the new Venza is actually very enjoyable. The 8-way adjustable front seats are both heated and vented in our Limited trim tester. They are not only comfortable but also quite stylish with patterned contrast stitching and stylish bolsters. 

Venza employs S-FLOW cooling technology that first appeared on Lexus. The system directs air conditioning only to occupied seats, providing comfort and helping to reduce energy consumption.

The rear cabin of the Venza is quite comfortable as well. There is plenty of legroom and a decent amount of headroom. The sense of roominess is enhanced by the electrochromic sunroof that is standard for the Limited trim. The fixed panoramic glass roof can switch from clear to frosted electronically. Toyota called this system Star Gaze. It is a feature that was once only found in luxury cars like the Mercedes-Benz SL-class, and certainly provides the same wow factor in the Venza.

The infotainment system of the 2021 Venza Limited centers around the 12.3” touchscreen sitting atop the dashboard. The base LE trim Venza gets an 8” display instead. I find the manual system intuitive and easy to navigate, and the graphics sharp and modern. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa connectivity are all standard. 

In front of the steering wheel is a 7” digital cluster and a 10” color head-up display. The digital cluster is controlled via the buttons on the steering wheel. I enjoy the intuitive layout of the buttons. The buttons themselves feel solid and provide decent tactile feedback. 

Our Limited edition tester comes with a nine-speaker JBL premium stereo system. It provides a rich and balanced sound that is underscored by the quietness of the cabin. 

Safety and Driver Assistance
The 2021 Venza comes standard with Toyota Safety Sense, a comprehensive suite of active safety systems that includes:

  • Pre-Collision System with Daytime/Low-Light Vehicle and Pedestrian Detection
  • Daytime Bicyclist Detection (PCS)
  • Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC)
  • Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist (LDA w/SA)
  • Automatic High Beams (AHB)
  • Lane Tracing Assist (LTA)
  • Road Sign Assist (RSA)
  • Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) with Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA) 

Our Limited trim tester also gets Front and Rear Parking Assist with Automated Braking, a cool 360-degree camera system that projects a 3D view of the surrounding onto the center screen, and a digital rearview mirror that reverts back to an optical one when the tab below is flipped. 

The 2021 Venza earns a 5 star safety rating from NHTSA and Top Safety Pick+ from IIHS.

The new Venza is offered exclusively as a hybrid. It is powered by a 2.5L Atkinson cycle four-cylinder engine and three electric motors. Yes, you read it right, three. Together they produced a total horsepower of 219hp. The drivetrain feels strong at low speeds thanks to the electric motors, but the power seems to taper off at higher speeds. 0-100km/hr happens in about 8 seconds, but it feels faster. 

All-wheel drive is standard. One of the electric motors powers the Venza's rear wheels while the other two work with the gasoline engine to spin the front tires. The on-demand AWD system sends up to 80% of the torque to the rear wheels during off the line starts, but becomes front wheel biased to maximize fuel efficiency at higher speeds. Speaking of fuel efficiency, the 2021 Venza excels at it. It is rated at 5.9L/100km city, 6.4L/100km highway, and  6.1L/100km combined. These are figures most compact sedans struggle to achieve. 

In terms of handling, the Venza is tuned for comfort but remains composed in corners. The steering can use a little more feedback, but it is precise and provides a relaxing driving experience. 

Cargo Space & Storage
The sweeping roofline limits Venza's cargo capacity, but it is nonetheless a very practical car. There is 816L (28.8cu.ft.) of space behind the second row seats. Folding the rear seats down and that number increases to 1555L (54.9cu.ft). The cargo capacity may be smaller compared to many other hybrid SUVs, including the RAV4, but remains very usable for day to day drives. Under the trunk floor is a spare tire and well organized tools for changing tires. There are also some pockets for additional storage space. 

Inside the cabin, the Venza offers plenty of storage options. The glove compartment is on the larger side, so is the center console storage bin. The door pockets are a little narrow, but there are storage trays integrated into the side door armrests. Rear passengers enjoy additional cup holders in the center armrest and storage pouches behind the front seat backs. 

I am very impressed with the new Venza. It is a step above other Toyota vehicles I have driven in terms of styling, technology, and luxury. Critics are going to complain about the reduced cargo space and the lack of high end horsepower, but I still find the 2021 Venza is very practical and enjoyable to drive. It also offers tremendous value in terms of fuel savings and the amount of standard safety technologies. I think most buyers are going to gravitate toward buying the new Venza for its handsome exterior and upscale interior though. It is a worthy successor of its predecessor.

Test Vehicle
2021 Toyota Venza Limited

$49,660.70 CAD including Freight & PDI

Coastal Gray Metallic


Popular Posts