THE RETURN OF THE VENZA

Motor Trend|July 2020

THE RETURN OF THE VENZA
TOYOTA’S KINDA-SORTA CROSSOVER MAKES A COMEBACK, AS A HYBRID
NICK YEKIKIAN

Not quite a car, not quite an SUV, the Toyota Venza took its last test-drive in 2017, but it’s back for the 2021 model year with a much clearer mission statement. Think of it as the young-family hauler of Toyota’s crossovers, blurring the line between mainstream Toyota cars and Lexus luxury cars.

With a wheelbase of 105.9 inches, an overall length of 186.6 inches, and a width of 73.0 inches, this five-seater (no third-row option, we hear) will dimensionally fit between a RAV4 and a Highlander in Toyota’s lineup.

When we last drove the Venza, we wished Toyota would have pushed the envelope just a little bit more when it came to interior and exterior design, and that’s exactly what it’s done now. The 2021 Venza ditches the dorky front fascia and frumpy rear end of the old car for something sleek, forward-looking, and no doubt developed alongside the handsome Mirai concept that was introduced late last year. But that’s just on the outside.

Underneath the all-new bodywork lives Toyota’s TNGA-K architecture and its Hybrid System II powertrain—it’s the only powertrain available in the new Venza. A 2.5-liter DOHC four-cylinder is supplemented by three electric motors— two up front, one out back—and total system output is rated at 222 hp. Aided by electronically controlled variable valve timing, an electric water pump, and a variable oil pump, Toyota estimates the LE trim will get 40 combined mpg.

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July 2020