The 2021 Toyota Venza Has An Eco-Friendly Feature That Makes It Sketchy In Snow

Hybrid vehicles are earth-friendly and economical. I dig em. The 2021 Toyota Venza is one such SUV, and because of this, it gets killer gas mileage averaging around 30 mpg overall. This is a good thing. Along with this style of hybrid, something has to charge the battery, and one thing that does that is regenerative braking. This is also a very clever system that is great in most conditions. However, when it snows, the hybrid Toyota’s brakes become a bit of a hazard. 

Is the 2021 Toyota Venza AWD good in the snow? 

Almost. Overall it actually handles the powder pretty well. While having my tester Venza in North Carolina’s mountains, We got a few days of snow that resulted in impassable switchbacks and pileups from out of towners who decided to try such roads without snow chains

2021 Toyota Venza Limited in the snow
2021 Toyota Venza Limited AWD | Peter Corn

I decided I would take the Venza out since it had all-wheel drive and see how it did with its many traction control robots keeping all four wheels in line. I must say, it did as well as could be expected wearing normal road tires. It slipped and slid here and there, but the AWD robots kept things in shape for the most part. I was impressed until I needed the brakes. 

Do regenerative brakes feel different?

Full disclosure, I have only driven a handful of cars with regenerative braking, and they have all had a little grab to them once you slow down enough. Some worse than others, but the Toyota Venza had the jerkiest brakes I’ve ever felt. I don’t know if it’s just the brakes or because of the hybrid system sucking power from the friction, but they were bad. 

2021 Toyota Venza Limited
2021 Toyota Venza Limited | Peter Corn

RELATED: Is the 2021 Toyota Venza Just a 2021 Lexus RX For Toyota Money?

In the snow, an embarrassingly rough stop turned into a butt-clenching mix of evasive maneuvers and downshifting to stop the tires from locking nearly every time. After about 20 minutes of navigating the snowy mountain roads, I finally had to return because I genuinely felt like it was a simple matter of time before I came across a braking distance longer than the grabbing brakes would give me. 

The AWD system was really nice

It could have been that the conditions were simply too slippery to be driven safely. I am not afraid to admit my shortcomings as a wheelman, but I have driven in the snow plenty, and it didn’t seem like the conditions were too treacherous. That being said, based on my experience,  I cannot recommend driving the Venza in any kind of slippery condition. The slightest braking resulted in a full slide until I released the brakes and instead relied on the AWD system to power me out of an otherwise nasty situation. 

2021 Toyota Venza Limited
2021 Toyota Venza Limited | Peter Corn

RELATED: Is All-Wheel Drive Worth the Upgrade?

The Venza wasn’t all bad

When you inevitably slide it off the road and are awaiting rescue, the seat warmers are killer. I really mean it. They are a force of nature. Even in the high twenties and with no heat from the vents, the seat warms kept me and my passenger toasty and comfortable. 

The AWD and traction control really was good. A few days before the heavy snow, I ran the Venza down a local dirt road that had a decent dusting of snow and tried to live out my rally-cross dreams – it didn’t work (or I suck at rallying.) Either way tried as I might (within reason, of course), I couldn’t get the Venza to act out. The AWD and traction control beeped and stuttered and refused to let me do anything too fun. It really was impressive, if not a little lame.

The 2021 Toyota Venza is not bad as long as you live in Florida

I’m kidding – kind of. It was a nice, practical SUV that could almost pass as a Lexus RS if you looked through squinting eyes. Almost. Like MotorTrend, I do wish Toyota would have pushed the luxury up one more notch. However, It is comfy, decently spacious, and well-equipped. It does exactly what you think it should unless you think it should keep you safe in the snow.