A familiar nameplate returns from the dead.
The first generation Toyota Venza crossover-wagon was sold in the US from 2008 until 2015 and competed directly against the Subaru Outback and gone-but-not-forgotten Honda Crosstour. Skip ahead to today and the Japanese automaker has officially announced the model's US return. Meet the new and reborn 2021 Toyota Venza, a hybrid crossover with wagon-ish styling previewed last month with the unveiling of the nearly identical Toyota Harrier that will be sold in overseas markets.
The new Venza is, once again, a midsize two-row crossover with a touch of wagon thrown into the mix. It's based on the same TNGA-K platform that also underpins the latest generation Toyota Highlander. Toyota emphasizes the new Venza provides a sedan-like driving experience and crossover conveniences. Are raised wagons the new thing? Perhaps.
Toyota told CarBuzz the Venza is about the size of the RAV4, though it's a little longer and is more of a premium RAV4 than a two-row Highlander Hybrid, size-wise.
Toyota's latest styling language is evident on the exterior and should have mass appeal. It comes standard with 18-inch multi-spoke two-tone alloy wheels and optional 19-inch wheels with a chrome finish.
The two-row interior comes standard with an 8-inch touchscreen on LE and XLE trims while a 12.3-inch touchscreen display is standard on the higher grade Limited trim and optional on the XLE. Drivers benefit from either a 4.2-inch or optional 7-inch gauge cluster as well as an available ten-inch head-up display and nine-speaker Premium Audio system and Dynamic Navigation depending on trim. Other standard connectivity features include Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Amazon Alexa, and Bluetooth.
Toyota has fitted the Venza with its first-ever Star Glaze fixed panoramic glass roof with electromagnetic glass technology, enabling occupants to switch from transparent to frosted viewing modes almost instantly with the push of a button. A panoramic overhead view providing Birds Eye View Camera and Perimeter Scan is also standard on the Limited. Toyota claims a total of 36.3 cubic feet of space behind the second row; the lithium-ion battery pack is small enough to fit under the rear seats so it doesn't eat up cargo space.
Only one engine will be offered under the hood: a 2.5-liter four-cylinder paired with three electric motors for a combined output of 219 horsepower. A torque rating was not given but Toyota does state preliminary testing shows a combined 40 mpg combined in LE trim. A CVT gearbox distributes power to an electronic on-demand all-wheel-drive system which distributes up to 80 percent of the power to the rear wheels to avoid front-wheel slippage.
Some standard safety includes eight airbags, traction control, and the Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 suite of active safety systems, which includes automatic high beam assist, full-speed radar cruise control, lane departure alert, and lane trace and road sign assist.
For now, Toyota has not provided us with pricing details and an exact launch date, only that the second-generation Venza will arrive as a 2021 model in late summer 2020. We expect it'll cost somewhere between the RAV4 Hybrid or Highlander Hybrid, so figure around $34,000 - $35,000 to start off.