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Exterior view of the 2021 Toyota Venza Limited

Typically, automakers seamlessly transition from one generation of a vehicle to the next, bringing out the newest version shortly after discontinuing production of the previous model. With the newest Venza, Toyota did things differently - in more ways than one. It took a long break between the first and second generations. The original Venza ran from the 2009 through 2015 model years; the latest model is all-new for 2021. Version 1.0 offered naturally aspirated gas four- and six-cylinder engines and available all-wheel drive. Its successor comes standard with hybrid power and electronic on-demand all-wheel drive across its LE, XLE and Limited trim levels.

Base prices for the new Venza start at $32,470. I discovered everything the Venza line has to offer behind the wheel of a Venza Limited optioned up with the Advanced Technology Package and the trick new Star Gaze panoramic roof, which raised its price from a starting point of $39,800 to an as-tested price of $43,100.

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2021 Toyota Venza Limited Exterior

Exterior view of the 2021 Toyota Venza Limited

I originally saw the Venza during its online reveal last year. Even through my laptop screen, I could tell it was a looker. There are no bad angles to it. The prominent lower grille makes a bold statement without shouting over the rest of the front end. The grooved single-bar upper grille and blade-like LED headlights flow back to the Venza's windswept sides.

The Venza's profile brought a couple of vehicles to mind - neither of which was the first-gen Venza. Every time I went out to my driveway and looked at my press loaner, I thought about a vintage sports car and a modern British crossover. When Toyota developed the 2000GT back in the 1960s, it used the curvaceous Jaguar E-Type as a visual benchmark and created a visually graceful and distinctive coupe of its own. It seems Toyota did something similar when it started sketching the 2021 Venza's body lines and let the inspiration of the Jaguar E-PACE's pointed greenhouse trim and prominent haunch lines show through the Venza's sheet metal.

Toyota's designers finished strong by giving the Venza its most distinctive feature: a wraparound light bar that spans the hands-free power liftgate and links both slim LED taillights.

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2021 Toyota Venza Limited Interior

Exterior view of the 2021 Toyota Venza Limited

It doesn't take long to spec a Venza Limited to the hilt because it comes standard with almost everything. The front row of the SofTex seats are heated - like the steering wheel - and ventilated. There's no box to check for the nine-speaker JBL audio system, which features a 1,200-watt amplifier and rear subwoofer that pumps out substantial and clear bass. The most distinctive interior feature is the 12.3-inch touchscreen, which provides access to navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa. While I enjoyed the size of the display, I had mixed feelings about the switchgear that came with it. Instead of traditional knobs for the volume, tuning, and HVAC temperature controls, the big screen comes paired with Intelligent Touch capacitive controls. They did give the center stack a sleek look, but I found them to be flourishes just for the sake of tech. Conventional dials would've been perfectly fine. Fortunately, the touchpoints were quick to respond to my requests.

My press loaner had the two options packages available on the Venza Limited. One of them, the Advanced Technology Package, contained a couple of helpful driver aids (I'll cover them in the Safety section below). The other was the Venza Limited's party piece. A lot of vehicles are available with panoramic roofs these days; Toyota's Star Gaze roof is different. When you want to block out the sun, instead of pushing a button to cover the glass with a motorized shade, you press one that instantly makes the electrochromic glass go from clear to frosted.

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2021 Toyota Venza Limited Performance

Exterior view of the 2021 Toyota Venza Limited

All Venza trim levels draw their power from a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter gas four-cylinder engine, 88-kW front electric motor, and 252-volt lithium-ion battery pack. Net output is 219 horsepower. When additional traction is required, the 40-kW electric motor attached to the rear axle comes online to make sure all four of the Venza's 19-inch wheels and Bridgestone Ecopias are turning in the right direction. If conditions call for it, the appropriately named Electronic On-Demand All-Wheel Drive can route up to 80 percent of the Venza's torque to the back end.

There are three major drive modes: Eco, Normal and Sport. I used all three during my week with the Venza Limited, but spent most of my driving time in Normal, which balanced efficiency with performance. Surprisingly, I didn't need to leave the Venza in Eco mode to exceed the EPA fuel economy estimates of 40 city, 37 highway, and 39 combined mpg. I just drove as I normally do and averaged 40.1 mpg over the course of 151.9 miles.

I spent a few of those miles finding a rugged photo backdrop. Given that the Venza is more of an on-road vehicle, I proceeded with caution, especially over the gravel berm at the entrance to the trail area I used for photos. The Venza's 7.8 inches of ground clearance enabled me to go over and across the uneven paths I encountered with ease.

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2021 Toyota Venza Limited Safety

Exterior view of the 2021 Toyota Venza Limited

I had to keep an eye on the Venza's extremities while positioning it for photos to make sure I didn't scrape one of its fenders on scrub brush. I did my best and also got substantial assistance from the standard Bird's Eye View Camera with Perimeter Scan. The Venza's other standard safety features and driver aids, which included the comprehensive Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 bundle, Star Safety System, Digital Rearview Mirror, and Blind Spot Monitor with automated braking, were helpful on paved roads. The Advanced Technology Package's 10-inch color head-up display and rain-sensing wipers kept me informed and, most importantly, allowed me to focus on the route ahead without worrying about looking down at the main gauges or the weather.

The Venza performed well in worst-case-scenario tests, earning a 2021 Top Safety Pick award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and five-star Overall Safety Rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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2021 Toyota Venza Limited Overall

Exterior view of the 2021 Toyota Venza Limited

Toyota used the time since the first-generation Venza to create a stylish all-new hybrid version of it with plenty of tech and achievable fuel economy figures. Check out the 2021 Venza at your nearby AutoNation Toyota dealership.

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Derek Shiekhi | Jun 08, 2021

2021 Toyota Venza Limited Specs


4-door, 5-passenger, AWD


2.5L I4, electric motor
219 horsepower
CVT automatic


40/37 mpg (city/hwy)

NHTSA Safety Rating

★ ★ ★ ★ ★   

AutoNation Drive Test Drive Review: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

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**Based on EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending on specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.