2021 Toyota Venza Limited new car reviews

The first-generation Toyota Venza offered a Camry-like experience packaged in a crossover body. How did Toyota manage that? By, essentially, dropping a crossover body onto the Camry chassis.

The 2021 revival, however, is much different from its first generation for a few reasons: Underpinning the new Venza is the same architecture found in the RAV-4 and Highlander, and the only powertrain available is a hybrid all-wheel-drive setup. Readers from markets like Japan might also recognize the Venza as a model sold by a different name, the Harrier.

Power comes from a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine that, when combined with an 88-kW electric powertrain, makes a total of 176 horsepower and 163 lb.-ft. of torque. Shifting (if you can call it that) is handled by a continuously variable transmission.

So, what's the revival of the Venza like to drive? Read our impressions below.

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Other staff views

J.G. Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak
Production/Art Director

I was prepared to be underwhelmed by the Venza, because it doesn’t really have much of an identity in the pantheon of mostly bland crossovers populating the roads these days. But then I hopped in, just to move it across my driveway after it got dropped off and I was immediately impressed.

I mean, it’s still a Venza. It’s not the kind of car people get all worked up about, but not every car deserves getting worked up about. Our passion for those cars can derive from their competence, and the fact that sometimes doing your job and not being a distraction is the highest form of performance. Look, not all bands are Judas Priest. Some bands are Huey Lewis and the News, and they ply their trade in a less flashy but no less talented way. There’s less crowd surfing, but the same level of expert musicianship on display.

The Venza excels in typical Toyota categories like ergonomics and perceived quality. This generation of Toyota DICs has a couple of idiosyncrasies and requires a little menu diving for a few functions, but they’re mostly issues that would only come up with new drivers and not someone operating the car every day, so I’m not going to hold functions like having to go one extra layer of controls deep to manually tune a satellite radio station against it.

Notably, the Venza has great ingress and egress, which I think are key metrics for a vehicle with any pretense of utility. Modern A-pillar airbag requirements can make crossover door frames particularly low and tricky to navigate, even for shorter people. But the Venza avoids this issue with a seat that actually isn’t jacked up off the floor a thousand feet like so many modern crossovers, but also affords a good view out the front.

Utility-wise, the Venza offers a lot of space, compromised just slightly by a sloping rear window that steals some volume from the cargo area. Basically, it’s a station wagon with a little extra ride height. If you’re looking for a minivan, this isn’t it, but if you’re looking for all the utility of a modern SUV with none of the needless offroad pretense, the Venza pretty much nails it.

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