Toyota Venza

Featuring an up-market look with standard 19- or optional 20-inch rims, the Venza comes equipped with over 70 cubic feet of cargo space, a nicely styled interior and plenty of standard equipment. The Venza is available in three trim levels; LE, XLE and Limited. Two engines are available, a 181-horsepower 4-cylinder and a 268-horsepower V6. Both engines can be equipped with either front or all-wheel drive drivetrains and both are controlled by a 6-speed automatic gearbox.

The base LE trim Venza with a 4-cylinder and front-wheel drive starts at $29,300, still comes packed with standard features, many of which would be perfectly at home in today's luxury vehicles. Features include an 8-way power adjustable driver's seat, dual-zone automatic climate control with second-row vents, an LCD multi-informational display, a tilting and telescoping steering wheel with audio controls and side mirrors equipped with turn signals. The standard Display Audio system includes a 6.1-inch touch screen and is capable of playing MP3s. It has six speakers and is able to interface with external music devices through an auxiliary audio jack, a USB port or via Bluetooth. Bluetooth can also be used for hands-free telephone calls and phone book access. The LE can be optioned up with the Convenience Package, which comes with a power lift-gate and a backup camera or the Preferred Package which adds a glass sunroof and an upgraded audio system with navigation and Toyota's Entune smartphone integration.

XLE Venzas are even better equipped. The front passenger seat features 4-way power adjustability while the driver's seat has a memory function. Both front seats feature multi-stage heating and all seating surfaces are leather trimmed. Electronic options include a JBL Synthesis stereo with navigation and Entune, a smart key system with push button start, a power rear liftgate, a backup camera and an anti-theft system with an alarm and an engine immobilizer.

Limited Venzas are available with V6 power only and include all of the standard features of the XLE along with the 13-speaker JBL audio system, 20-inch alloys and a moonroof. The Limited also gets HID headlights, daytime running lights and automatic headlight dimmers, capable of sensing oncoming traffic and automatically changing the headlights to low-beam mode.

Safety in the Venza is aided by the vehicles low center of gravity when compared to many SUVs. However standard safety devices include anti-lock brakes, traction control and electronic stability control. The Venza has seven airbags and an active head restraint system, which uses cables to push the headrests forward and upward if the vehicle is hit from behind, limiting the potentially harmful effects of whiplash.

Editors' Review

It's quite common, expected even, that a given model of car will grow and grow as it ages through subsequent redesigns and refreshes. Like many of us, cars get bigger as they get older. But, it's not every day that a given model genuinely moves up-market, offering the same level of feature and function but in a nicer package. In this way, the new Venza is a bit of a rare bird, its 2021 model year reboot turning this machine from a frumpy family hauler to a clean, sharp and genuinely premium SUV.

And that's important because there are oh so many crossovers and SUVs to choose from these days. Hell, just keeping in the family you have the C-HR, RAV4, Highlander, 4Runner, Sequoia and Land Cruiser to choose from. How, then, does a product like the Venza break from the den of anonymity?

Well, it starts off with a fresh new look that's sharp and distinctive while still honoring its Toyota DNA, particularly the gaping lower grille and aggressively pronounced rear fenders. Compared to its van-like, family friendly predecessor, it's a revelation.

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Model Year

The Good ~Sharp new looks ~Good efficiency and drivability ~That crazy roof

The Bad ~Entune needs a similar retooling

The Bottom Line Toyota's rebooted Venza impresses.

Editors' Rating
  • Performance 8
  • Features 8.5
  • Design 8.5
  • Media 7.5

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