The surprise second model in Toyota’s reveal event today was the return of the mid-size Venza.
If you had bet on Toyota reviving the Venza name at today’s reveal event, congratulations, you were right.
Today’s event began with the all-hybrid 2021 Sienna lineup. Shortly after debuting the minivan, Toyota turned its sights to the second new model for the day. Meet the 2021 Venza, which will also be exclusively hybrid-powered when it touches down in dealers this summer.
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The original Venza was arguably a little ahead of its time. Essentially a chunkier Camry station wagon, it bridged the gap between cars and crossovers when it arrived in 2009. In the decade since, crossovers have taken over, becoming ever more car-like. Toyota saw an opening between the existing RAV4 and Highlander—both best sellers in their class—and has revived the Venza name to do the job.
Once again the Venza is a five-seater crossover, and based off an existing Toyota. In this case, it’s a slightly altered version of the Japanese-market Harrier, which uses Toyota’s ubiquitous TNGA-K platform. That model measures 186.6 inches nose-to-tail, making it roughly half a foot longer than the current RAV4. It’s the same width as its little brother (73.0 inches), riding on the same wheelbase (105.9 inches) but shorter at 65.3 inches. That, along with a sharply raked rear window, helps the Venza cut a much more dramatic profile than either of its crossover siblings—or indeed the last Venza. 18-inch wheels are standard on the LE; XLE and Limited trims get 19-inch chrome items.
SEE ALSO: 2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Review
Like the Sienna, the Venza will come with only hybrid power. A version of the 219-horsepower system found in the RAV4 Hybrid does duty here, utilizing a 2.5-liter four cylinder and two electric motors. Electronic on-demand all-wheel drive is standard, with a rear-mounted electric motor providing motivation at low speeds and when the front detects slip. Toyota is targeting a combined 40 mpg on the Venza LE—the same as the RAV4. The lithium-ion battery pack sits under the rear seats, which Toyota says helps the Venza achieve 36.3 cubic feet of storage space behind the second row.
Toyota is positioning the new Venza as a sort of semi-premium option within its seven-vehicle crossover lineup. It offers the larger 12.3-inch touchscreen of the Highlander for example, and Lexus’ S-Flow smart aircon system, which only directs cooling air to occupied seats. The big news is the Star Gaze panoramic glass roof, however. In a first for a Toyota, it uses electrochromatic technology to switch between transparent and frosted states at the press of a button. An available nine-speaker JBL sound system is also available, and at 1,200 watts is the most powerful system found in a Toyota.
Other tech includes optional digital rearview mirror, selectable driving modes, and what Toyota calls Predictive Efficient Drive. PED can learn driver-selected routes and then offer feedback on when to ease off the throttle. The Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 safety suite is present on every trim, bundling emergency braking, pedestrian and cyclist detection, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, lane tracing, auto high beams, and road sign recognition together. Blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are also standard on all Venzas, while XLE and Limited add parking assists with automated braking.
The Venza will join a growing list of larger-but-still-five-seater crossovers, like the Chevrolet Blazer and Honda Passport, when it goes on sale this summer. Toyota will announce pricing closer to its roll out.