Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

The 2021 Toyota Venza.

Brendan McAleer/The Globe and Mail

While its ancient Chinese origins are probably apocryphal, “may you live in interesting times” is generally considered to be a curse. The saying seems particularly apt today, when five minutes spent scrolling through social media might well cause the average person’s blood pressure to skyrocket.

As if created as an antidote, the new Toyota Venza has been carefully engineered not to be too interesting to own. There are many more exciting vehicles out there, from rugged SUVs to sport-tuned crossovers, and the new Venza isn’t really trying to compete with any of them. Instead, the Venza aims to be the soft background music to daily life, at which it mostly succeeds.

Let’s begin with the sole powertrain offering, a hybridized 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine. Essentially identical to that found in the RAV4 Hybrid, it produces a total of 219 horsepower and 163 lb.-ft. of torque. The battery pack is a 0.9 kWh lithium-ion unit, and an electric motor is mounted at the rear to provide all-wheel drive.

Story continues below advertisement

Acceleration is acceptably quick but unexceptional. Likewise, the Venza provides average grip and handling characteristics. This vehicle is not one to raise your pulse rate, and in fact, the closely related RAV4 Hybrid feels a bit sportier overall.

The Venza's best angle is its side profile.

Brendan McAleer/The Globe and Mail

Having said that, Toyota’s hybrid system is sufficiently smooth that most shoppers won’t miss the V6 option. Further, the Venza delivered on its stated fuel-consumption targets, hitting a thrifty 6.3L/100kms in mixed use.

Inside is where this new Venza differs the most from the previous version and from the RAV4. It’s less roomy than either, especially in cargo capacity.

The old Venza felt a bit like a Camry Wagon or a Toyota-badged Subaru Outback in that it was an extremely functional vehicle that offered plenty of hauling ability. As such, it was very popular with pragmatic Canadian buyers. The new Venza feels more aimed at the American market, relying on a polished exterior appearance and interior tech to separate it from the RAV4.

The Venza's exterior is sharp and stylish, if somewhat anonymous.

Brendan McAleer/The Globe and Mail

Yet the overall feel of the Venza is not necessarily a luxury experience from a mainstream brand. The seats are slightly more comfortable than in the RAV4, but the larger Highlander’s higher interior trims offer a more impressive experience. If Toyota had managed to marry the Highlander’s trimmings with the RAV4′s size, the Venza might have felt more special.

I also wish Toyota had decided to offer the RAV4 Prime’s 302-hp plug-in hybrid offering as an option on the Venza. That powertrain comes with scorching fast performance and would make the Venza an even more compelling offering for people who want a luxury experience without the badge.

What the new Venza does offer is a reliable, fuel-efficient, fuss-free experience. In appearance, it is the city-slicker cousin to the more rugged-looking RAV4 and comes with upscale features. As a package, it does many things well and will likely be quite successful. However, even in these exhaustingly interesting times, you might be looking for a slightly more interesting drive.

Story continues below advertisement


Looks

The Venza's large front grille will likely be divisive.

Brendan McAleer/The Globe and Mail

Styling is nothing if not subjective. For instance, you may find the Venza’s enormous front grille attractive if you are a marine biologist specializing in baleen whales. Others may not like it to much. The rest of the vehicle plays it safe with a slightly anonymous look. The best angle is the profile.

Interior

The interior is dominated by the central touch screen.

Brendan McAleer/The Globe and Mail

A 12.3-inch central touch screen dominates the dash on higher-trim models, and the Venza has slick black buttons instead of chunky knobs. There’s no haptic feedback, so adjusting the temperature takes more attention away from the road than it should. The gee-whiz feature is a panoramic roof that electronically dims, something normally found only on luxury brands. There’s also a digital rear-view mirror.

Performance

The Venza's hybrid powertrain is consistently efficient and smooth.

Brendan McAleer/The Globe and Mail

Toyota’s hybrid system is one of the best examples of not having to understand a technology to benefit from it. You never have to remember to plug it in or worry about the weather; it simply returns good fuel economy consistently. The Venza may not be a thrill ride, but you can’t argue with its efficiency.

Technology

The Venza comes standard with Toyota's suite of driver-assist technologies.

Brendan McAleer/The Globe and Mail

Standard on the Venza is Toyota’s latest suite of driver assists, which includes lane-keeping, automated cruise control, forward-collision warning, and blind-spot detection.

Cargo

The Venza's cargo capacity is disappointing.

Brendan McAleer/The Globe and Mail

Perhaps the biggest let down on the Venza is its carrying capacity. At 1028 litres, it’s not exactly small, but trails the RAV4 Hybrid by 31 litres.

Story continues below advertisement

The verdict

A sleek, efficient, and undemanding hybrid crossover.

Brendan McAleer/The Globe and Mail

Shopping for a new car? Check out the new Globe Drive Build and Price Tool to see the latest discounts, rebates and rates on new cars, trucks and SUVs. Click here to get your price.

Stay on top of all our Drive stories. We have a Drive newsletter covering car reviews, innovative new cars and the ups and downs of everyday driving. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies