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Toyota now says it will sell a plug-in electric hybrid version of its Harrier SUV in Japan. Why do we care? Because Toyota sells the Harrier here as the Venza, which is like the dressed-up version of the RAV4. Until now, the Venza has only been offered in the U.S. as a hybrid SUV, but a new Venza Prime PHEV version could transform it.

Why the new PHEV Toyota Venza Prime could rock

Toyota Harrier in black
The Toyota Harrier is a Japanese market Venza | Toyota

The Venza is the same as the RAV4 SUV underneath. It’s simply a slightly more expensive, stylish, and luxurious, version of the RAV4. However, for several years we’ve been able to get the RAV4 Prime, which is the plug-in hybrid version of the RAV 4. It has a combined 302 horsepower, and all-wheel drive, from its combination of electric power and gas-powered motor.

You can only buy the Venza today as a hybrid, which gets up to 40 mpg in town. It may be nice and competent, but it’s not quick while the RAV4 Prime is sports-car quick, and efficient. A new RAV4 Prime-based Harrier could mean that we’ll get a faster, more fun, Venza soon in the U.S., according to CarScoops.

Is a Toyota Venza worth buying?

2022 Toyota Venza in red
2022 Toyota Venza | Toyota

BMW and Audi are famous for making “coupe” versions of SUVs that retain the high seating position and most of the utility of an SUV, but with some added flair of a sloping back. The Venza is, in some ways, Toyota’s RAV4 coupe.

The Venza and RAV4 both use Toyota’s clever hybrid all-wheel drive system. Toyota uses the gas motor to power the front wheels, while the electric motor powers the rear wheels. Also for safety, they both come standard with Toyota Safety Sense 2.0, which includes niceties like radar cruise control, a rear cross-traffic braking system, and road sign assist, which can scan road signs. Both the RAV4 and the Venza are Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, or IIHS, Top Safety Picks.

Which is bigger, Venza or RAV4?

2022 Venza interior
2022 Toyota Venza interior | Toyota

The Venza is six inches longer than a RAV4, but it has nearly the same interior room as the RAV4, and slightly less cargo space.  The RAV4’s overall interior volume is 98.9 cubic feet, while the Venza’s is 98.3. The RAV4 can hold 69.8 cubic feet of cargo with the second row folded. The Venza, however, holds less in the back with just 55.1 cubic feet of space.

All of the other interior dimensions, like headroom and shoulder room, are within a half inch of each other. The interior roof is a bit more compromised if you order the very cool electrochromatic sunroof, which can turn from clear to frosted at the flick of a switch.  

Which is bigger, Venza or RAV4?

The Venza’s interior packs in useful features and is a very nice place to be in this RAV4 Hybrid alternative. The RAV4 isn’t bad, at all, to sit in but the Venza has a significantly larger, 8.0 or 12.3-inch vs. 7.0 or 9.0-inch in the RAV4, touchscreen, for example. The large screen is configurable so you can pick what you’re seeing and where it’s placed on the screen. It also has two-tone leather, a different center stack, and some exterior chrome and trim that give it an upscale look and feel.


The Toyota Venza Stacks up Against the Competition, so Why Isn’t It Selling?