The Toyota Venza goes big on efficiency and features but struggles to match the utility and spaciousness of most offerings in its competitive mid-size two-row SUV class. Its thrifty nature comes by way of a hybrid powertrain comprised of a 2.5-liter four-cylinder and three electric motors. That means standard all-wheel drive and fuel economy that rubs the faces of competitors like the V-6-powered Honda Passport and the Nissan Murano in the dirt. Or it would, but the Venza is more focused on a feature-packed cabin designed for commuting than for venturing off-road. An available panoramic sunroof that shifts from transparent to opaque at the touch of a button is a good indicator of its priorities. Unfortunately, its RAV4 Hybrid-based bones limit its interior space and cargo area compared to most other crossovers in this mid-size segment. Combined with a buzzy engine and dozens of hybrid and nonhybrid competitors—including Toyota’s own RAV4 and Lexus NX350h—the Venza remains a an outlier in the segment—a good-looking but smaller and less practical alternative.
What’s New for 2024?
Nothing. If you liked the 2023 Venza, you’ll like the 2024 Venza, as Toyota is carrying the model over without a single change.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
All Venza models come with all-wheel drive and Toyota Safety Sense as standard kit. Our pick is the XLE, which adds rear parking sensors with automatic emergency braking, the larger 12.3-inch infotainment screen, upgraded upholstery, a power front-passenger seat, 19-inch aluminum wheels, LED foglamps, and a few other additional tweaks that make the $4000 jump in price from LE to XLE worth it. The Nightshade edition is the XLE with black styling accents at the cost of about $1100.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The Venza is a hybrid-only proposition. The powertrain is comprised of a 2.5-liter four-cylinder gas engine and three electric motors, which produce a combined 219 horsepower. All-wheel drive is standard: One of the electric motors powers the Venza’s rear wheels while the gasoline engine and the other two motors work to spin the fronts. The Venza is a traditional self-contained hybrid with no provision for plug-in capability. Our test drive of the Venza found it lacking in driving dynamics, and we were disappointed that it didn’t deliver the smooth ride that we expected. At our test track, its acceleration was also mediocre at 7.6 seconds to 60 mph, putting it 1.5 seconds off the pace set by the Passport.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
The Venza is rated to return 40 mpg city and 37 mpg highway by the EPA. Impressive for the segment, these figures are nearly double the ratings of other two-row mid-size SUVs such as the Passport and the Ford Edge. Unsurprisingly, the Venza fuel economy numbers are within 1 mpg of the EPA ratings for its RAV4 Hybrid and Lexus NX 350h siblings, with which it shares its platform. On our 75-mph highway fuel economy test route, we recorded 36 mpg. For more information about the Venza’s fuel economy, visit the EPA’s website.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
Seeing as the Venza shares the RAV4 Hybrid’s 105.9-inch wheelbase but is about half a foot longer overall, we figured Toyota might find a way to carve a little more interior room from the Venza’s husk. Alas, passenger volume is nearly identical, the Venza losing a few tenths of an inch in hip and shoulder room. Cargo space is not as lucky, with the Venza’s 29 cubic feet of behind-the-second-row volume falling short of the RAV4 Hybrid’s 38. In C/D testing, we fit seven carry-on suitcases behind the rear seat and 18 in total with the rear seats folded, versus 10 and 22 for the RAV4. Notably, the Venza offers Toyota’s electrochromic panoramic sunroof. Dubbed “Star Gaze” in ‘Yota-speak. Despite the name, it’s cool; the sunroof’s glass panels go from transparent to opaque with the flip of a switch. This impressive feature is something (until now) that we’ve encountered only on luxury cars such as the Mercedes-Benz SL-class.
Infotainment and Connectivity
The base LE Venza has a standard 8.0-inch touchscreen positioned atop the dashboard, while XLE and up models get a 12.3-inch unit. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Amazon Alexa, and wireless charging connectivity are all standard across the board, as well as SiriusXM satellite radio. The XLE has a 10-inch head-up display and the option of a nine-speaker JBL premium stereo system, the latter of which is an option on the XLE.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
Toyota includes a suite of driver-assistance features as standard on all Venza models. For more information about the Venza’s crash-test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites. Key safety features include:
- Standard automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection
- Standard lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist
- Standard adaptive cruise control
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
Toyota’s warranty coverage is typical as compared to other mainstream brands, but it sweetens the deal with two years of complimentary scheduled maintenance. The Venza’s hybrid components are covered by a specific eight-year or 100,000-mile warranty, and the battery is covered for 10 years or 150,000 miles.
- Limited warranty covers three years or 36,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers five years or 60,000 miles
- Hybrid-component warranty covers eight years or 100,000 miles
- Complimentary maintenance is covered for two years or 25,000 miles
2021 Toyota Venza
front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door wagon
PRICE AS TESTED
$43,045 (base price: $33,590)
DOHC 16-valve Atkinson-cycle 2.5-liter inline-4, 176 hp, 163 lb-ft + 3 permanent-magnet synchronous AC motors, front: 118 hp, 149 lb-ft; rear: 54 hp, 89 lb-ft (combined output, 219 hp); 0.9-kWh lithium-ion battery pack
continuously variable automatic
Suspension (F/R): struts/multilink
Brakes (F/R): 12.0-in vented disc/11.1-in disc
Tires: Bridgestone Ecopia H/L 422 Plus, 225/55R-19 99V M+S
Wheelbase: 105.9 in
Length: 186.6 in
Width: 73.0 in
Height: 65.9 in
Passenger volume: 95 ft3
Cargo volume: 29 ft3
Curb weight: 3879 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS
60 mph: 7.6 sec
100 mph: 20.9 sec
Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 7.9 sec
Top gear, 30–50 mph: 3.8 sec
Top gear, 50–70 mph: 5.2 sec
1/4 mile: 15.8 sec @ 89 mph
Top speed (governor limited): 118 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 179 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.79 g
Standing-start accel times omit 1-ft rollout of 0.3 sec.
C/D FUEL ECONOMY
Observed: 36 mpg
Highway range: 520 miles
EPA FUEL ECONOMY (MFR EST)
Combined/city/highway: 39/40/37 mpg
More Features and Specs