Toyota has been without a mid-size, two-row crossover offering since it discontinued the Venza in 2015. But now that nameplate is coming back for 2021 for a new model that will once again slot between the RAV4 and Highlander. Based on the Japan-market Toyota Harrier, the new 2021 Toyota Venza will be offered in the U.S. only with a hybrid powertrain that promises up to 40 mpg combined.
Against competitors such as the Ford Edge, Honda Passport, and Hyundai Santa Fe, the Venza is on the small side of its segment. It has the same 105.9-inch wheelbase as the RAV4 and is only 5.7 inches longer than that compact crossover. Cargo space behind the Venza’s rear seats measures just 36 cubic feet, which is actually two cubic feet less than what the RAV4 offers. Rear-seat space in the Venza is dimensionally similar to the RAV4.
The Venza also shares its TNGA platform with the RAV4 and many other Toyota models, and its hybrid drivetrain is nearly identical to the RAV4’s optional hybrid setup. Pairing a 2.5-liter inline-four gasoline engine with three electric motors—one on the rear axle that gives the Venza standard all-wheel-drive capability—the Venza makes the same 219 combined horsepower as the RAV4 hybrid and promises the same 40 mpg combined EPA rating.
If the Venza doesn’t offer any more space or power than the RAV4, at least it does look more upscale both inside and out. The exterior design aims for a more premium look, as opposed to the RAV4’s rugged pretensions, and the interior materials look posh compared to those in even the RAV4’s highest trim levels.
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