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We have driven the Toyota Venza before, but this time, we’re driving the Nightshade Edition. The Nightshade Edition mainly adds exterior enhancements, which we like. But this time around, we realized that the Venza is one of our favorite SUVs for more reasons than what the special trim level has to offer.

1. The 2023 Toyota Venza’s hybrid powertrain is smooth and efficient

2023 Toyota Venza engine
2023 Toyota Venza | Joe Santos, MotorBiscuit

When the Venza resurfaced in the market a couple of years ago, one of the most interesting changes that Toyota made was under the hood. Instead of the gas-powered V6 that powered the first iteration, the second-generation Venza is motivated by a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine mated to an electric motor. This hybrid system puts out 219 hp, which we have found is more than enough for driving the car around town and getting it up to freeway speeds.

The best part is that it can achieve up to 40 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway. So far, we’re averaging around 37 mpg, which is great for a small SUV.

2. The Venza’s interior styling is interesting

2023 Toyota Venza front interior
2023 Toyota Venza | Joe Santos, MotorBiscuit

The interiors in some of the older Toyota models used to be boring. However, the Venza’s interior removes mediocrity by adding some interesting styling cues. The dash area looks somewhat futuristic and sleek with its soft touch points, and we dig the flat-panel HVAC control. However, we do wish the buttons were a little more responsive. Everything considered, the Venza’s interior is a little more lively than what other models have had in the past.

3. Star Gaze Fixed Panoramic Roof

2023 Toyota Venza Star Gaze
2023 Toyota Venza | Joe Santos, MotorBiscuit

We’ll admit that we thought that the Toyota Venza’s Star Gaze panoramic roof was a little gimmicky at first. But this time around, we get it. It looks cool when it’s frost, and it lets in light at the push of a button. We thought it was gimmicky because the roof doesn’t open, but how many people actually open the sunroof anyway? Good thinking, Toyota.

4. The Nightshade package adds some flare

2023 Toyota Venza front
2023 Toyota Venza | Joe Santos, MotorBiscuit

As we stated before, the Nightshade package mainly adds exterior modifications. Some of those enhancements include black 19-inch wheels, a black front grille, black roof rails, mirror caps, and badges. It looks great, especially with its Ruby Flare paint job. But if you don’t like red, the Nightshade Edition is available in white or black as well.

5. The Venza has plenty of passenger and cargo space

With the rear seats folded up, the Toyota Venza boasts 28.8 cubic feet of space, which nearly doubles when they’re folded down. That’s a lot of cargo capacity for a small SUV. Additionally, there’s plenty of rear-seat room, and even the middle seat has a lot of space.

The 2023 Toyota Venza has plenty to offer, but these are our favorite features

Ultimately, there’s plenty to like about the 2023 Toyota Venza Nightshade Edition, but these five features are our favorite. Anyone looking for a compact SUV should definitely put it on their shortlist.