2021 Toyota Venza assessment: Rebooting into luxurious

Sure, that is a Venza.

Tim Stevens/Roadshow

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

LikeSharp new looksGood effectivity and drivabilityThat loopy roof

Do not LikeEntune wants the same retooling

And that is necessary as a result of there are oh so many crossovers and SUVs to select from today. Hell, simply preserving within the household you might have 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?

Nicely, 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 customary on the Restricted-trim mannequin you see right here, non-compulsory on the decrease specs. Beneath that, the Restricted includes a clean panel of capacitive-touch buttons that appears nice, although the dearth of a quantity knob is, as ever, a bummer.

Preserve shifting all the way down to discover a Qi inductive charging pad for preserving 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 permits plenty of gentle however hides the Venza’s finest get together 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 operating in right here is not more likely to garner such a response. Up on that massive, pronounced touchscreen you will discover Toyota’s tried-and-true Entune system. That is a well mannered approach of claiming it seems low-res and dated, particularly the navigation interface. Fortunately, with each Android Auto and Apple CarPlay onboard, you possibly can at the very least conceal all that fairly shortly.

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 gives this SUV’s all-wheel-drive functionality.

There’s quite a bit happening right here.

Tim Stevens/Roadshow

Along with the 0.9 kWh value of lithium-ion batteries, Toyota says this method gives 219 horsepower, with 176 hp and 163 pound-feet of torque coming from the gasoline engine alone. Which means a decidedly front-biased energy supply. Curiously, regardless of the tiny battery and never being a plug-in, the Venza could be pushed in a full-electric mode… type of. Prime velocity right here is someplace within the neighborhood of 20 mph and, must you 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 trouble and, whether or not you are in Eco or Sport mode, the Venza has greater than sufficient pep to get you forward in 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 journey dealing with aspect, the Venza is unquestionably tuned for consolation, gliding by fairly 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) criticism being ventilated seats of the “Wait, are these really on?” selection.

Clear skies above… in case you push the appropriate 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 an extra $1,400.

The good information is that Toyota’s Security Sense 2.Zero ADAS system comes customary 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 are feeling within the Restricted, it nonetheless looks as if good worth. That is very true in case you examine 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 seems good, drives effectively and does a remarkably good job of enjoying the luxurious sport. It is a standout in an ever-expanding sea of me-too SUVs. 

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