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2021 Toyota Venza Hybrid Test Drive Review

The Toyota Venza is back - now as a mid-size crossover based on the popular RAV4 and only  available as a hybrid. Is this your next vehicle? In this video we take a closer look to see if this new Venza captures the same magic as the original.

Even though it's based on the compact RAV4, this new Venza is classed as a mid-size crossover due to extra 6-inches in length. It competes with other two-row crossovers like the Honda Passport. However, given the styling and features, we think it also competes with upmarket options like the Mercedes GLC. Pricing on the new Venza starts at $33,645. The model we're testing today is a mid-range XLE which starts at $37,175.

Exterior view of the 2021 Toyota Venza on a highway

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Under the hood is Toyota's latest hybrid powertrain tech. This includes a 2.5-liter gas-powered engine connected to two electric propulsion motors for a combined output of 219 horsepower. The only transmission option is an electronically controlled continuously variable unit. All-wheel drive is standard. EPA rates this setup at up to 40 miles to the gallon city, and 37 on the highway.

Due to the sloped roofline, cargo space is slightly compromised compared to the boxy RAV4. The Venza has 28.8 cubic feet of space. Fold down the second row for up to 69.8 cubic feet of total capacity. The second row accommodates adults comfortably. Up front, the Venza takes a page out of the Lexus playbook, with upscale materials and an attractive design. The seats are power-adjustable, with three stages of heating. Push button start is standard, which silently brings the combined digital and analog cluster to life. Here you can view various options including safety and performance. Toggle drive modes for better response or to save on fuel. There's also an EV mode, but with a small battery, it's only really useful in parking lots.

Our Venza XLE featured the available 12.3-inch infotainment system. This included excellent navigation with voice control. The driver can customize the layout to their liking. Plug in a mobile device for Android Auto or Apple CarPlay comparability. The number of standard advanced safety features Toyota includes is impressive: Rear view camera with tracking guides and cross-traffic alerts, blind spot monitoring, collision mitigation with bike and pedestrian detection and full speed adaptive cruise control with steering assist.

Exterior shot of the 2021 Toyota Venza in a driveway

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Exclusively sold as a Hybrid in North America, the 2021 Venza is a quiet and capable option to gas-powered crossovers. Power comes on quickly, thanks to the electric motors ability to provide 100% torque at 0 RPM. Compared to the original Venza, last offered in 2015, this new Venza is no comparison. It's taken a bit of a step up in tech and comfort.

Like the RAV4, the Venza's all-wheel drive system is provided through the use of dedicated electric motor powering the rear wheels. That means there's no physical connection front-to-back. This improves economy, while at the same time providing an all-wheel drive system that is more capable than you might expect. We find that it handles most service roads and trials with ease.

The new Venza is a great option for families that are looking for something a bit more luxurious than a RAV4, but don't want to commit to something as big as the Toyotas' 3-row Highlander. Of course, the only way to know if the Venza is right for you is to give a test drive at an AutoNation dealership near you.

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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.