Crossover & Midsize

Which Toyota SUV Is Bigger, the Venza or Highlander?

Toyota makes several SUVs, including two midsize crossovers. The Highlander has earned mixed reviews, but both the hybrid and non-hybrid versions enjoy healthy popularity. Demand for the automaker’s other midsize crossover, the hybrid-only Venza, hasn’t been as strong. 

In fact, Toyota‘s 2020 U.S. sales figures show the Highlander sold 212,276 units, including 48,455 hybrid models. The Venza sold only 13,073 units total.

So, the Highlander is by far the bigger seller. But is it also the larger of Toyota’s midsize crossover SUVs?

Toyota Highlander vs. Venza: Exterior dimensions

RELATED: The 2021 Toyota Highlander Is More Reliable Than Its More Popular Little Sibling

The Highlander is three inches wider, offering 76 inches to the Venza’s 73 inches. It’s also taller, standing 68.1 inches to the Venza’s 65.9 inches. And the longer Highlander measures 194.9 inches, while the Venza extends 186.6 inches from front to back. 

Indeed, the Highlander is larger on the outside. But let’s see how the Venza uses its interior space. 

Toyota Highlander vs. Venza: Interior roominess and comfort

An SUV’s exterior doesn’t always reveal its true passenger space and cargo capacity. However, the larger Highlander provides three rows of seating for up to eight passengers. The Venza provides room for five in two rows.

The Highlander’s front-seat headroom measures 41.2. inches, whereas the Venza offers 38.6 inches. As for legroom, expect 42 inches in the Highlander and 40.9 inches in the Venza. Rear-seat measurements are as follows: Highlander headroom and legroom are 39.4 inches and 41 inches; Venza headroom and legroom are 39 inches and 37.8 inches.

Although the Highlander offers roomier first- and second-row seating than the Venza, Consumer Reports notes the Highlander’s third row is tiny. But either way, the Venza can’t seat more than five.

And both midsize SUVs offer heated seats, plush cabins, and modern features. 

Other considerations

Toyota calls the hybrid Venza “elegance elevated.” Indeed, it looks more refined and stylish than the Highlander. Purchase price and fuel economy are two other areas where the Venza outperforms the Highlander.

The Venza starts at $32,470, while the Highlander’s base price is $34,910. The Highlander is also front-wheel drive only, while the Venza is all-wheel drive. And the Venza’s fuel economy is an impressive 40/37 mpg city/highway thanks to its hybrid powertrain. The Highlander’s gas mileage is a mediocre 29/21 mpg city/highway. The Highlander’s transmission is an eight-speed automatic, while the Venza’s is a continuously variable transmission (CVT). 

When it comes to emissions, the hybrid Venza excels with just 4.6 tons of CO2 emissions at 15,000 miles per year. With the same mileage, a Highlander emits 7.5 tons of CO2. Cruising range on the highway is 536.5 miles for the Venza and 519.1 for the Highlander. 

Plus, HD Radio, Bluetooth, and an MP3 player come standard on the Venza, not on the Highlander. 

The verdict 

Though Toyota labels both the Highlander and Venza midsize crossovers, the former outsizes the latter. However, choosing a vehicle is a personal matter. Your individual needs and preferences, not simply size, will determine whether the Highlander or Venza is the better SUV for you.

For instance, if you need to haul a lot of gear or more than four or five people, the Highlander could be what you need. But the Venza’s interior is spacious and refined. And if you want a vehicle that’s easy on gas, the environment, and your wallet, the Venza’s style, fuel economy, and sticker price could make it the better pick.