The Transformed Toyota Venza is Now a Hybrid SUV

The Venza is now a hybrid-only model, just like the Sienna minivan.

2021 Toyota Venza
The Toyota Venza is an all-new model with a standard hybrid powertrain.

Do you remember the Toyota Venza? If not, allow me to refresh your memory. The original Venza was a wagon-like crossover built from 2009 to 2015. That model never sold in big numbers as consumers flocked to more conventional vehicles instead.

For 2021, the Venza returns. This time, it is a two-row midsize crossover utility vehicle, which puts it in a segment with the likes of the Ford Edge, Nissan Murano, and the Chevrolet Blazer. But unlike its competitors, it’s a hybrid only – Toyota utilizes both a gas engine and electric motors to supply propulsion.

Toyota offers the 2021 Venza in three trims: LE ($32,470), XLE ($36,000), and Limited ($39,800), plus a $1,120 destination charge. The Venza comes with standard all-wheel-drive as it relies on the hybrid system to shuttle power to the rear wheels at certain times.


Is the all-new Venza a shortened version of the three-row Highlander crossover? No. In fact, it is based on the same platform as the compact RAV4, Toyota’s most popular model. You wouldn’t know that by looking at it as the Venza is longer and wider than the RAV4 and shares little of the styling details of the smaller model.

The most significant difference is in the roofline, with the Venza possessing a coupe-like design. Smoother angles, a high profile, distinct lines, and muscular sculpting project sportiness. From the rear, the wraparound taillamps look as if they were borrowed from Lexus.

2021 Toyota Venza profile

Inside, the Venza seats five, but there is somewhat of a catch: the sloping roofline intrudes on rear passenger headspace, thus the back row is best for people of an average height. Also, although the rear legroom is better in the Venza than the RAV4, the amount of standard cargo space behind the rear seat is smaller in the midsize.

The Venza’s cabin strikes a balance between practicality and sophistication. Although not a minimalist design, Toyota avoids the busy look of some layouts. The layered dashboard, wide-open center console, and big door pockets are welcome features. Comfortable seats front and back with contrasting stitching along with metallic trim are among the finer touches.

Safety & Technology

Even the base Venza comes well equipped and is, therefore, a good place to start your search. On the tech front, Toyota equips this crossover with an 8-inch touch-screen display, a 4.2-inch digital information center, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone compatibility, four USB charge ports, and a 6-speaker audio system with satellite radio.

2021 Toyota Venza tech

You’ll also find all of Toyota’s top driver-assist features, such as automatic emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, active lane control, automatic high beams, and adaptive cruise control. In some competing models, these features cost extra.

Among the available tech upgrades are a 12.3-inch touch-screen display, a JBL audio system, and a 10-inch color head-up display. From a safety standpoint, an upgraded blind-spot monitoring system is available. Toyota bundles this with front and rear parking assist with automatic braking.

Toyota Venza Performance

Toyota’s Synergy hybrid system is the best selling in the world. Launched in the Prius, it has since spread to nearly every Toyota model. In the Venza, the system comprises a 2.5-liter four-cylinder gas engine and three electric motors, including one mounted to the rear where it sends up to 80 percent of the power to the rear wheels as needed. Thus, the Venza isn’t a conventional all-wheel-drive system that uses a center differential to shuttle power rearward. Instead, the electric motor kicks in to distribute power more efficiently when the roads are slick or wet.

Although the gas engine is relatively small and not turbocharged, the added benefit of the electric motors combines for 219 horsepower. Moreover, this arrangement is highly efficient, averaging 39 mpg. That’s about 10 mpg more than what most competitors claim, supplying the Venza with an ideal combination of power and efficiency.

2021 Toyota Venza front seats

We found the Venza a decent performer all around. On ignition, this crossover is silent as the electric motor activates first. It’s only under firm acceleration when the engine comes on, which steadily moves the crossover forward with authority. We found the steering firm and the handling engaging.

The only gripe we had was with the squishy brakes – they are designed that way as regenerative braking captures kinetic energy to supply electricity to the battery. In layman’s terms, the brakes become a power generator too.

Toyota Venza Considerations

We think Toyota did a remarkable job with the latest Venza, by delivering a stylish model, filled with tech and safety features, and efficient. The standard all-wheel drive gives the Venza an edge. That the base model comes well-equipped means that it will cost you under $35,000, a reasonable cost to acquire one.

2021 Toyota Venza rear

2021 Toyota Venza Specifications

Toyota 2021 Venza
Segment Midsize Crossover SUV
Price Range $32,500 to $39,900
Destination Charge $1,175
Drivetrain Front engine, all-wheel drive
Engine 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder
Horsepower 176 @ 5,700 rpm (219 combined)
Torque (lb.-ft.) 163 @ 5,200 rpm
Bore x Stroke (inches) 3.44 x 4.07
Compression Ratio 14.0:1
Transmission eCVT
Seating 5
Wheelbase (inches) 105.9
Length (inches) 186.6
Width (inches) 73.0
Height (inches) 65.9
Headroom (f,r…inches) 38.6, 39.0
Legroom (f,r…inches) 40.9, 37.8
Shoulder room (f,r…inches) 57.4, 56.9
Hip room (f,r…inches) 54.4, 45.2
Pax Volume (cu. ft.) 98.3
Cargo Storage (cu. ft.) 28.8/55.1
Curb Weight (pounds) 3,847 to 3,913
Gross vehicle weight (pounds) N/A
Towing (pounds) 1,073
Payload (pounds) N/A
Fuel Type Regular
Fuel Tank (gallons) 14.5
EPA Fuel MPG (city/highway/combined) 40/37/39
Manufacturing Plant Aichi, Japan

Specifications supplied by the manufacturer. Statistics assembled by Tom Keegan.

See AlsoThe First-Ever Toyota Corolla Hybrid

Photos copyright the Stumpwater Media Group, LLC. All rights reserved.

Matt Keegan
Author: Matthew Keegan
Matt Keegan is a journalist, media professional, and owner of this website. He has an extensive writing background and has covered the automotive sector continuously since 2004. When not driving and evaluating new vehicles, Matt enjoys spending his time outdoors.

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