Crossover & Midsize

The 2021 Toyota Venza Is the Perfect Size If You Don’t Need a Highlander

The Toyota Venza was resurrected for the 2021 model year and with it came a new hybrid powertrain, all-new styling, and some tech-savvy features. And while the Venza might seem like an odd entry in Toyota’s existing lineup, it does provide a larger alternative to the RAV4 and a more practical option if you don’t need the space of the three-row Highlander.

The 2021 Toyota Venza provides ample seating and modern convenience

I spent a week with the 2021 Venza and my main takeaway was simple: It’s perfect if you only that has five seats and achieves good fuel economy numbers. As I’ve stated before, the Venza is practically a Prius in high heels, since it has a hybrid powertrain and an elevated ride height. However, the Venza’s taller stance means that it’s easy to get in and out of and once you’re inside, the cabin provides a good amount of head and legroom for average-sized occupants. Although, I personally wouldn’t recommend it for anyone over 6-feet, 2-inches, as the larger Highlander might be better suited for anyone that tall or taller.

2021 Toyota Venza Limited front shot
2021 Toyota Venza Limited front | Joe Santos

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I was also impressed by the dashboard configuration. The analog gauges provide a classic feel and the 4.2-inch digital display in between them is easy-to-read and it doesn’t take an owner’s manual to figure out how to scroll through the menus. Also, my test car was the top-trim Limited version, which meant that it was equipped with the 12.3-inch infotainment screen that’s really easy to see and configure.

What’s really handy is that the screen is divided into three different sections to display the climate controls, navigation map, and audio controls at the same time. However, you can switch each screen between the driver and passenger side so it’s easier for the person on either side to reach it. It’s a nifty feature that takes away any control issues when it comes to playing “road trip DJ.”

a picture of the 2021 Toyota Venza infotainment system
2021 Toyota Venza infotainment system | Joe Santos

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The Toyota Venza is a better driver than a hauler

That all being said, the Toyota Venza is much more of a longer road trip car than it is a capable cargo hauler. Car and Driver said that they felt that the Venza’s interior is slightly less roomy than the RAV4 and they weren’t able to fit as much stuff into the Venza’s cargo area as they did in its smaller sibling. That might well be true, considering the RAV4’s cargo capacity measures in at 37.6 cubic-feet versus the Venza’s 28.8, however, I would argue that if you don’t really need the extra space and you like the Venza’s styling more than its interior dimensions, then the better choice is clear.

a forward-facing shot of the 2021 Toyota Venza Limited Interior
2021 Toyota Venza Limited Interior | Joe Santos

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After my time spent with the Venza, it became obvious that it was meant to be an odd duckling of a crossover that’s meant for buyers who choose style over substance but also want a large enough car to tool around town in and take on extended trips. That’s most likely why Toyota decided to put a hybrid powertrain in it. And with 219 hp, the Venza isn’t exactly a rocket, but it has enough power to get up hills without and worry and, best of all, it can get an EPA-estimated 40 mpg in the city and 37 on the highway.

a side shot of the gray 2021 Toyota Venza Limited
2021 Toyota Venza Limited | Joe Santos

Who is the Venza for?

If you’re looking for a crossover that’s priced in the $30,000 range, but don’t need something more rugged like a Subaru Forester or a Honda Passport, then the Toyota Venza has the softness and sophisticated on-road composure that you could be seeking. No, it doesn’t have a third row and it’s not meant to tow anything, but within the wide variety of Toyota products, it does provide an excellent value proposition, especially if you don’t need something larger, like a Highlander or even a RAV4.