Toyota confirmed months of speculation today, announcing that the 2021 Venza will be reintroduced this summer as a hybrid-only all-wheel-drive crossover, and the Sienna minivan will also be hybrid-only, available later this year. Prices have not yet been revealed.
These introductions are part of Toyota’s commitment to offer electrified versions of every vehicle it sells, and to sell 25 per cent of its vehicles as hybrids by 2025.
The Venza first debuted in 2008 as a crossover alternative to the popular RAV4 SUV, but was discontinued in 2015. It’s a sleeker five-passenger vehicle that sits between the RAV4 and Highlander in size, with 1,027 litres of cargo space behind the second row of seats (the RAV4 has 1,065 litres of space back there). The lithium-ion battery for the Venza’s hybrid powertrain is stored beneath the rear seats, so cargo space is unaffected.
It will be sold only as a hybrid, powered by a 2.5-litre inline-four engine supplemented by three electric motors, creating up to 219 hp. Toyota says average fuel consumption will be as low as 5.9 L/100 km. AWD is standard, using a dedicated electric motor to power the rear wheels, which in turn can provide up to 80 per cent of the total driving force.
The intention of the Venza is to provide a sedan-like driving experience to an SUV’s practicality. Toyota says the ride will be very smooth, with selectable Normal, Eco and Sport drive modes. The cabin is also claimed to be very quiet, with sound insulation specially designed to minimize outside noise at the same frequencies as human speech.
There will be three different trim levels. They all include the driving assistance of Toyota Safety Sense 2.0, which provides active cruise control at all speeds, a pre-collision avoidance system with pedestrian and bicycle detection, and lane departure alert with steering assistance. A blind-spot monitor with cross-traffic alert will also be standard.
A new optional innovation will be a fixed panoramic glass roof that switches almost instantly between clear and frosted glass with the press of a button. There will also be a digital rearview mirror available in the standard windshield mirror, first seen on Cadillacs and now an option on several brands, which uses a camera to show an image on the mirror of behind the vehicle.
Toyota also announced that an all-new fourth generation of the Sienna minivan will be sold only as a hybrid vehicle, powered by a 2.5-litre inline-four engine that makes 243 horsepower and consumes a claimed average of 7.9 L/100 km of fuel. Its optional AWD system is similar to that in the Venza, using a dedicated electric motor to power the rear wheels and putting up to 80 per cent of the driving force to the rear when needed.
Unusual for a hybrid, the Sienna will be capable of towing up to 3,500 lbs, and will offer both a tow hitch and a 1,500-Watt inverter for powering camping equipment.
The Sienna can be optioned to be one of the most luxurious minivans on the market. It can seat either seven or eight people, depending on the trim level, and the second row of seats slides 63.5 cm forward or back to create leg room. Top-end editions include reclining seats with ottoman leg rests, as well as a vacuum cleaner and a fridge.
All Siennas include Toyota’s Safety Sense 2.0 driver’s assistance as standard, as well as a blind-spot monitor and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for hands-free connectivity to smartphones.
Toyota says the design of the new Sienna was inspired by the sleek efficiency of Japan’s bullet trains, with a boldly sculpted body surface that moves away from the boxy look of most minivans. There’s even an XSE trim level with 20-inch wheels and “aggressive” bumpers that Toyota says “looks like it was born on a race track.”
No prices have yet been announced, but the current, non-hybrid Sienna begins at an MSRP of $35,750 and rises to $51,865.
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