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2021 Toyota Venza: Why the Less Seductive Sister Should be the Chosen One?

The recently added episode to the saga of this Japanese model series should be entitled “Toyota Venza Returns.” Its stylish and smooth design seems to especially avoid any opulence accents, while still catching the eye.
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Does the arrival of this second generation appear to be a successful return of the Venza in the mid-size crossover territory or it will be just another discretely consumed phase in the vast universe of family vehicles? Anyway, it's worth a closer look.Approach
Sticking to the strictly technical definition, the Toyota Venza is a five-passenger mid-size crossover SUV. Its commercial calibration: Japanese-branded mainstream product, aimed mainly at the North American market. Its name: an intriguing fusion between “venture” and “Monza”.

The first generation of the Venza (introduced in 2008) was designed by the Calty Design studios in Newport Beach (California) and was produced at the Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky plant. Hard to find any kind of common idea or suggestion to bring all those factors together.

It also seems that customers failed to understand the Venza in terms of identity or specific purpose. Probably, that’s why Toyota announced that the first-generation Venza would be discontinued after the 2015 model year. In fact, the production of the export models ended in 2017. However, Toyota decided not to give up completely on this model series, so here we are now, facing its second generation. Better? Much better!Ambiance
The 2021 Toyota Venza is manufactured in Japan, Toyota City (Aichi prefecture). The project chief designer is Japanese: Yoshito Watanabe. And gone are the identity ambiguities of the former generation. The Venza reflects that inclination for harmony and smoothness often seen in all kinds of Japanese aesthetic creations. Yet, it does it in a decent manner, almost like insisting on the message of discretion. Very interesting effect: intuitively, the onlooker tends to develop a certain sympathy for the car, anticipating this way the peaceful, comfortable and silent cruises to come.

Does the silhouette of the 2021 Toyota Venza give you a strong impression of déjà vu? That’s easy to explain. The general proportions, the sleek profile and thin headlamps are pretty similar to those of the Lexus NX (basic price: $37,610). Try to visualize the 2021 Toyota Venza and the contemporary Lexus NX side by side: they are like sisters! It’s hard to imagine that a potential customer of a mid-size crossover-SUV never looked with desire at the Lexus NX!

Those who have hesitated acquiring a fancy Lexus NX have a new opportunity now, under the form of the less blingy 2021 Toyota Venza (basic price: $32,570). Others tried to approach the new Venza as an alternative to the RAV4 - actually, the clear identity and style differences between these (otherwise, technically similar) Toyota SUVs are enough to solve this dilemma.

Surprisingly, the interior of the Venza doesn’t look obviously less refined than NX’s. The design of the dashboard is rather conventional in the case of the Venza, yet the conceptual age of the NX speaks for itself. Both the Venza and the NX have instruments clusters with analog dials. In the case of the Venza, the center console is better organized and the multimedia screen (12.3 inches for the Limited and XLE trims) is well placed, within the natural touch range of the driver.

Probably the refinement of the materials and the finishing details is superior to the NX, but the Venza also looks very good. Also, its standard equipment includes the so-called Toyota Safety Sense TSS 2.0, a comprehensive suite of advanced assistance systems: Pre-Collision System with Daytime/Low-Light Vehicle and Pedestrian Detection, Daytime Bicycle Detection (PCS), Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC), Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist (LDA w/SA), Automatic High Beams (AHB), Lane Tracing Assist (LTA), Blind Spot Monitor (BSM), Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA) and Road Sign Assist (RSA).

Something to mention, but not necessarily determinant: the trunk volume of the Venza is a bit smaller than the RAV4’s, even if they share the same technical platform (TNGA-K).Thrust
The hybrid propulsion system of the 2021 Toyota Venza is already known from the RAV4 and its virtues are widely appreciated. 2WD and 4WD configurations are offered, yet, in order to get the complete benefits its concept provides regarding the riding abilities, dynamics and fuel economy, we recommend the 4WD. This version of the Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive includes a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter gasoline engine (DOHC, VVT-i, 131 kW/177 hp), a permanent magnet electric motor at the front axle (88 kW/120 hp) and a permanent magnet electric motor at the rear axle (40 kW/54 hp). Its maximum power is rated at 222 hp (the FWD versions, missing the rear electric motor, are rated at 218 hp).

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What’s really important here: the casual contribution of the electric motors in terms of torque is significant: 323 Nm (202 Nm from the front engine, 121 Nm from the rear engine). Note that the gasoline engine provides 221 Nm. Knowing that a maximum torque of 544 Nm is available and only up to 40% of it comes from the gasoline mill, it is easier to understand how the good performance and the good fuel economy of the 2021 Toyota Venza can go together.

Surely, the Toyota Venza is not the kind of SUV aimed at an off-road use, yet it can handle quite well some problematic grip situations. The CVT transmission doesn’t favor sporty accelerations anyhow, yet it ensures a comfortable and stable ride. At low speeds, the Venza can be driven in EV (zero emissions) mode for rather short distances.What to pay for
Three trim levels are available for the 2021 Toyota Venza: LE, XLE and Limited. The premium JBL audio system included in the multimedia system with navigation and other advanced applications (touchscreen of 12.3 inches) is not available in the case of the LE ($33,645 with destination charges). The XLE ($37,175 with destination charges) and the Limited ($40.975 with destination charges) are endowed with more sophisticated seats and 19-inch alloy wheels (18-inch, in the case of the LE). Depending on the willingness to spend, the LE and XLE are our favorites. Instead of going straight for a Venza Limited, we would rather have a look at what Lexus has to offer.

 
 
 
 
 

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