Thanks to crossover SUVs’ popularity these days, Toyota decided there was room for one more. The automaker revived the Venza name for this model year after retiring it in 2015. Now, it sits between the RAV4 and Highlander in the brand’s SUV lineup. But even though Toyota considers the Venza a midsize crossover, it’s surprisingly similar to its compact SUV sibling, the RAV4.
Venza vs. RAV4: Exterior dimensions
The Venza and RAV4 are built on the same Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) platform, Car and Driver reports. The Venza is longer than its sibling, but their exterior dimensions are otherwise very similar.
The Venza measures 186.6 inches in length, making it 5.7 inches longer than the RAV4. But their other measurements are much closer. The Venza’s height of 65.9 inches is only 1.1 inches shorter than that of the RAV4. Both measure 73 inches wide and have a 105.9-inch wheelbase.
Venza vs. RAV4: Powertrains
The RAV4 offers a few powertrain options, while the Venza has only a hybrid powertrain. The RAV4 boasts hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions, along with a gas-powered 2.5-liter inline-four engine option. The two SUVs’ hybrid powertrains are similar. Both pair three electric motors with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and generate 219 hp.
The two both have all-wheel drive, but their systems are somewhat different. The Venza comes standard with all-wheel drive. The RAV4 Hybrid also comes standard with all-wheel drive, but the non-hybrid RAV4 doesn’t.
Thanks to its hybrid powertrain, the Venza offers great fuel efficiency: 40 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway, Car and Driver reports. The RAV4 Hybrid gets slightly better fuel economy. It’s rated for 41 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway, Car and Driver says.
You’d think that because Toyota labels the Venza a midsize crossover and the RAV4 a compact crossover, the former would be more spacious than the latter. But their cabins are similarly sized. Headroom, hip room, shoulder room, and legroom are all within a couple of inches of each other. Even the overall passenger space — 98.3 versus 98.9 cubic feet — is nearly identical. In fact, the RAV4 edges out the Venza in that area, U.S. News reports.
And both seat five people in two rows. However, the Venza has a large lump in the floor in front of the rear center seat, making it less useful, U.S. News says.
The Toyota RAV4 again has the edge over the Venza, this time in cargo space. The Venza offers 28.8 cubic feet, which increases to 55.1 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down. The RAV4 boasts 37.6 cubic feet of cargo capacity, which jumps up to 69.8 cubic feet when the rear seats are down. All RAV4 models offer the same amount of cargo and passenger space.
According to Car and Driver, the 2021 Venza’s “upgraded standard technology” helps set it apart from the RAV4. The Venza has a standard 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen and an available 12.3-inch screen. The RAV4’s standard touchscreen is 7.0 inches, and its larger option is only 8.0 inches.
The Venza also has an available panoramic glass roof that can transform from clear to frosted. Only the RAV4 XSE Hybrid model offers a panoramic glass roof, Toyota‘s website shows. Some other trims come with regular sunroofs.
Both SUVs include the Toyota Safety Sense suite of advanced safety features. They include pedestrian detection, road sign assist, adaptive cruise control, automatic high-beams, and more.
Starting around $27,000, the 2021 RAV4 has a lower base price than the Venza. But the RAV4 Hybrid has a higher-priced top trim. It also offers six trim levels, with the highest starting around $37,000. The RAV4 Hybrid starts at $29,675 and has seven trims, with the top one starting at $42,600. The Venza’s starting MSRP is $33,645. It offers only three trims, and the top one starts at $40,975.
The Venza sports a “sleek design,” Car and Driver reports. It borrows styling cues from the C-HR subcompact SUV and larger Highlander. On the other hand, the RAV4 is angular and rugged-looking. CD calls the 2021 Toyota Venza “a more refined RAV4 hybrid.”
Despite their different appearances, these Toyota crossover SUVs are more similar in size than their segment labels let on. Sure, the Venza is a few inches longer, but the RAV4 boasts more cargo space and even a bit more passenger room.