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The 2021 Toyota Venza is making a big impression despite its smaller, midsize crossover stature. Slotting between the RAV4 and the Highlander, this Toyota family member harkens to its very popular overseas Toyota counterpart, the Harrier SUV. 

But here in North America, the Venza, with its sleek styling and bold design, is exclusively powered by a hybrid platform. You might presume that with this Toyota-designed hybrid, fuel efficiency is going to be a top asset. And you’d be right . . . in a way. Its impressive data at the pumps didn’t keep the Toyota Venza from coming in a disappointing last on this latest critic review list.

It starts with impressive fuel efficiency

If you haven’t met the Toyota Venza yet, you should. Car and Driver calls it handsome and gives thumbs up to the very cool Star Gaze sunroof. Other positive attributes include an impressive fuel economy rating. 

Every Venza variation comes with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and two electric motors. Power is routed through the continuously variable automatic transmission for power to the front wheels. But you’ll also have a motor at the rear, offering additional traction when you need it. It harnesses an impressive 219 hp and provides an even more attractive 39 mpg for city and highway combination driving. This sweet spot of power and efficiency has Edmunds calling it more than adequate.

A last-place showing on this list

MotorTrend stopped by to introduce the most fuel-efficient SUVs on the market this year. And despite the 2021 Toyota Venza earning recognition as a finalist of the MotorTrend SUV of the Year, it comes in last on this roster of crossovers with the best gas mileage. The EPA testing produced results of 40 mpg in the city, 37 mpg on the highway, and 39 mpg overall, which to many, is great. But among the increased competition of hybrids, these stats only earn the Venza a last-place finish. 

Contenders that outperformed the Toyota Venza

The Toyota Venza may beat out its class-segment competitors, like the Hyundai Santa Fe or the Nissan Murano. But in the MotorTrend contest for most fuel-efficient, there are contenders with far better EPA estimates. The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid even does better with 40 mpg combined. 

The 2021 Lexus UX250h beats the Toyota Venza and gets 41 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway. Coming in 17th out of 20, the Ford Escape Hybrid earns 41 mpg. The Land Rover Range Rover P400e achieves 42 MPGe. Even big and super-expensive 2021 Bentley Bentayga Hybrid gets 46 MPGe. And coming in at the top of this list is the 2021 Ford Escape Plug-In Hybrid, capable of reaching 102 MPGe. There are clearly some hybrids out there capable of saving serious gas money.

What this means if you’re looking to buy a Toyota Venza

If you’re looking for a hybrid with a priority in fuel efficiency, you won’t be disappointed in how the Toyota Venza delivers. But there are other hybrid models out there with far better EPA estimates. The Venza is no slouch, and averaging 39 mpg, is still competitive when compared to non-hybrid competitors. And most are praising the Venza for its luxury-level interior, its standard all-wheel drive, and its incredibly comfortable ride. 

Ultimately, your preferences will dictate which SUV makes the most sense for you. If fuel efficiency matters most, you’ll likely save a few dollars with the Toyota Venza. But in the world of hybrid offerings, you might find deeper discounts in fuel economy with others. And as the hybrid segment continues to grow with new models and technology, it’s a sign that consumers can only expect the EPA estimates to get better every year.