Wait a second, I ask myself, as I approach the sharply styled new Venza. Didn’t Toyota toss these to the history books after the 2015 model? They did. Yet, it would seem that the Venza has returned, with new tricks to keep it a relevant part of the present line-up this time around.
With similar proportions to the popular Honda Passport or Chevrolet Blazer, the Venza stands poised to attack the midsized SUV crowd. A popular segment packed with stiff competition. How does the revived Venza plan to succeed this time around? It would seem that quiet, comfortable luxury, with high fuel economy, at an affordable price, is the second-generation approach. As the Venza is only available as a hybrid, new owners will enjoy 39 mpg. 219 combined system net horsepower comes from the hybrid set-up and a 2.5L 4-cylinder engine. With a couple driving modes programed in. Eco, Normal and Sport to be more specific. In Sport mode especially, acceleration will be adequate for most.
Luckily, exterior styling has taken a turn for the better in 2021. The first-generation Venza looked like a design cross between a boring sedan and minivan. This new model comes with a sleek and sporty front end and rear profile that looks nearly identical to the Jaguar F-Pace. Razor slanted headlights are stuffed with Projector LEDs, perched over the trademark oversized Toyota front grille. Something that is well-suited to the new design. Big 19” multi-spoke alloy wheels come in chrome. Roof rails and a small deck spoiler further distance the new Venza design from anything remotely minivan-like.
On the inside, the 2021 Toyota Venza looks and feels upscale and luxurious. SofTex-trimmed seats can be heated and cooled. There’s full smartphone integration no matter if you choose Android or Apple. Sound comes out clean through a 9-speaker JBL premium set-up, complete with subwoofer. Driving aides work well, with all our favorites making an appearance, like: radar cruise control, pre-collision and pedestrian detection and lane-keeping assist. The heads up display is sharp, and the 7” multi-infotainment system is bright and colorful. A surprising feature was the Star Gaze Fixed Panoramic roof that let you turn the glass overhead completely opaque or see-through transparent. A helpful thing when you want to let in lots of natural light, but wish to be protected from the full force of a strong Arizona summer sun.
It may not be the biggest midsized SUV out there, but back-seat legroom will be enough for the majority of shapes and sizes. All-wheel drive is standard, but the Venza is not rated for towing. The emphasis here seems to be more on-the-road design and style. Rather than trying to be a serious SUV. Off-road duty would be a risky business, best left for the likes of the Subaru Outback or Honda Passport. If you want something for around town that looks and feels top-notch though, you’ll welcome the return of the new Toyota Venza with open arms.
Price as tested: $43,100.00