Crossover & Midsize

The Dated 2021 Nissan Murano Beats Out the Fresh Toyota Venza Hybrid

All-new hybrids are all the rage upon release. However, sometimes it’s best to go with something that’s tried and true. So is the case when comparing the 2021 Toyota Venza and 2021 Nissan Murano.

Toyota relaunched the Venza as a hybrid for the 2021 model year. Meanwhile, Nissan last redesigned the Murano for the 2015 model year.

But don’t let the shiny new toy fool you. The Murano still outperforms the fuel-efficient Venza, at least in 2021.

The 2021 Nissan Murano holds up surprisingly well

A blue 2021 Nissan Murano driving down a country road
The 2021 Nissan Murano in action | Nissan

This midsize SUV doesn’t lead the class in any particular category. However, it does offer an excellent all-around package.

The 2021 Nissan Murano’s cabin is quite plush, featuring soft-touch materials and a wealth of amenities. It comes standard with an eight-inch infotainment touchscreen display compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Nissan priced the base Murano at $32,510. That’s an increase from last year’s model, but the automaker equipped it more with safety features

This starting price is actually $40 more than the 2021 Toyota Venza’s starting MSRP. So why would you pay more for a gas-powered model rather than purchasing the affordable hybrid?

As you move up in trim levels, it becomes abundantly clear that the 2021 Nissan Murano has more to offer than its competitor.

The reasonably priced Murano SL ($40,010 MSRP) is more luxurious than any Venza you can buy. It features a power liftgate, leather upholstery, heated front and rear seats, and a heated steering wheel.

Meanwhile, Toyota doesn’t offer genuine leather seats on any 2021 Venza trim level. Instead, you’ll have to settle for a synthetic version. Plus, you can’t treat your backseat passengers to heated seats.

So while the 2021 Nissan Murano’s platform is undoubtedly aging, its interior is surprisingly up to date.

The 2021 Toyota Venza is pretty bland

A blue 2021 Toyota Venza parked in a driveway
The 2021 Toyota Venza on display | Toyota

RELATED: The Original Toyota Venza Was (Kind Of) Ahead of Its Time

Toyota is an industry leader when it comes to fuel economy, and the 2021 Venza is no different. 

A 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and a pair of electric motors power the Venza. Plus, it utilizes an all-wheel-drive system and an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission (ECVT.)

Comparatively, the Murano features a 3.6-liter V6 engine and a traditional CVT across all trim levels. Although, you can opt for either front-wheel drive or AWD.

According to the EPA, Toyota’s hybrid SUV achieves 39 MPG city/highway combined. Meanwhile, the 2021 Nissan Murano manages just 23 MPG combined – regardless of which drivetrain you choose.

The 2021 Toyota Venza’s gas mileage is tough to ignore. However, you’ll quickly become disappointed after getting behind the wheel. Its lackluster powertrain diminishes any joy you might experience from saving some money at the gas pump.

Meanwhile, the 2021 Nissan Murano isn’t exactly a thrill ride, but its V6 has a satisfying punchiness to it. This midsize SUV kicks out a reasonable 260 hp and 240 lb-ft of torque. Meanwhile, the Venza only manages a total system output of 219 hp, and you’ll only receive 176 hp when using only the electric motors.

Buy the 2021 Nissan Murano if you want an SUV you’ll enjoy

RELATED: Can the Nissan Murano Really Measure Up to the Lexus RX?

Highly fuel-efficient vehicles are incredible money-savers, and these models give you bragging rights over your friends. However, you’ll want to buy a car that you’ll enjoy driving at the end of the day.

Unfortunately, the 2021 Toyota Venza doesn’t provide that spark many drivers desire. Toyota may enhance its new hybrid down the line. But in the meantime, it’s better to stick with a more well-rounded mode like the 2021 Nissan Murano.