Was the original Toyota Venza simply ahead of its time?
The two-row crossover utility vehicle (CUV) enjoyed modest success when it debuted just over a decade ago. But it always struggled to emerge from the shadow of its more popular siblings — the Camry and Highlander, with which it shared the same platform — and ceased production after the 2015 model year.
Since then, however, demand for vehicles that blend passenger car-like refinement with truck-like utility into one seamless package has been on the rise. So, Toyota, driven to meet the needs and wants of its diverse customer base, has decided to add the Venza back into the fold.
The new Venza offers easy access to a wide array of connectivity and entertainment features via a touchscreen display.
But this is nostalgia in name only. The 2021 Venza has been completely reimagined to be perfectly aligned with today’s demanding market.
“We looked at our current crossover lineup and saw a white space between our adventurous RAV4 and the three-row Highlander,” says Bob Carter, Toyota Motor North America executive vice president of sales. “We’re all about giving our customers choices to meet their mobility needs. And lately, a lot of them asked, ‘Why don’t you have a two-row crossover?’ Well, now we do.”
Reengineered From the Platform Up
The all-new Venza’s use of high-strength steel helps allow the front strut and rear multi-link suspension to be tuned to an optimal balance of handling agility and a calm, quiet ride. And a special focus on noise, vibration and harshness reduction has given rise to a cabin atmosphere that’s conducive to enjoying a conversation or hearing music in cleaner detail. In other words, it feels like a car. But it functions like a utility vehicle.
THROUGH THE ROOF
Available with the 2021 Venza, the Star Gaze fixed panoramic glass roof can be switched from transparent to frosted with the push of a button.
The new Venza is also far more tech savvy than its predecessor.
For instance, connectivity and entertainment features flow through an 8-inch touchscreen system on LE and XLE grades, while a stunning 12.3-inch display is available on XLE and standard on Limited. Owners can choose among a wide array of hands-free access options, such as Siri Eyes Free with Apple CarPlay compatibility, Google Assistant with Android Auto and Amazon Alexa compatibility — in addition to Bluetooth wireless technology.
All grades get SiriusXM All Access three-month trial along with trial periods for Toyota Remote Services, which allow drivers to access key functions and features of their vehicles from their smartphones.
The Venza offers 36.3 cubic feet of space behind the second-row seats.
And to enhance visibility, the Limited grade comes standard with a Bird’s Eye View Camera and rear camera cleaning system. Going a step further, the available digital rearview mirror — at the flip of a switch — can give the driver an unobstructed view even if the Venza is carrying a full load of people and things.
Speaking of cargo, the Venza offers 36.3 cubic feet of space behind the second-row seats.
Meanwhile, under the hood, all Venzas are powered by the latest iteration of the Toyota Hybrid System that delivers 222 total system horsepower and a projected manufacturer-estimated 40 mpg in combined city/highway driving.
And then there’s Toyota’s Electronic On-Demand All-Wheel Drive system, also standard on all Venzas. It employs a separate rear-mounted electric motor to direct up to 80 percent of the power to the rear wheels when needed.
A Little Starstruck
But perhaps the most stunning new facet of this all-new Venza is Toyota’s first-ever available Star Gaze fixed panoramic glass roof. Thanks to electrochromic glass technology, the driver can switch from transparent to frosted modes at the touch of a button. The latter brightens the interior while reducing the glare of direct sunlight, promoting an even more open, airy and inviting feeling.
Oh, and like all new Toyota vehicles, this reimagined Venza comes standard with Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 and includes Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert on all Venzas and Front and Rear Parking Assist with Automated Braking on XLE and Limited grades.
“Make no mistake: This all-new crossover is just as unique as the customers we’re looking to bring into the Toyota family,” Carter says. “It looks, and performs, like nothing else we have in our CUV lineup.”
The Venza makes its triumphant return to Toyota dealerships this summer.