The Toyota Venza has returned after a several year absence. But while the original Venza was a segment blurring entry that straddled the line between a traditional car and a SUV before it was unceremoniously discontinued in 2015, this chapter of Venza aims to push its SUV lineage more into the spotlight, while also doubling down on its green credentials at the same time.
Sharpness and Aggression Define Venza Styling:
The original Venza’s styling could be best defined as a bland mixture of styling elements, with the overall look having about as much consistency and excitement as a brand of plain flavored oatmeal. That changes with this new model which blows that notion out of the water, and brings a new styling language that is sharper and much more aggressive than ever before. There is some Highlander DNA baked in here, but the aggression is turned up a few notches with sharp looking headlights, a sleek looking front grille, and a massive lower intake that makes it look like an aggressive predator. The Venza shares its underpinnings with other Toyota offerings, with the familiar TGNA-K platform promising to deliver sharper driving responses just like it does in other models like the Highlander and the RAV4. The rear fascia is more futuristic in appearance with a unified light bar going from end to end as well as a prominent scallop section that splits the upper and lower portions of the rear. The Venza lines up perfectly with other mid-size two row SUV entries including the Ford Edge, Honda Passport, and the Chevy Blazer. As a result, the styling lies somewhere in the middle with the Venza definitely getting a leg up on the Honda and the Ford in this regard.
Futuristic Interior Sets The Mood:
The high style motif of the exterior also makes its way to the interior, with the Venza adopting several distinct touches to get itself noticed. The blue and brown colors here do a good job catching our attention, and the rest of the interior design keeps up the pace. The center stack is the most radical design that we have seen yet in a Toyota offering, with the infotainment system actually eschewing a traditional volume knob, and instead embracing touch capacitive controls. An eight inch touchscreen infotainment system with traditional controls is standard equipment on LE and XLE models, but buyers that go towards the XLE trim will be able to opt for a bigger 12.3 inch infotainment screen which is standard issue on the Limited model.
Regardless of screen size, Toyota has added standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability as well as Amazon Alexa with the software appearing to be the same type that is also used on the fore-mentioned Highlander. The company is also proud of its panoramic sunroof. The glass itself is an electrochromic panel that can either be transparent or frost depending on the kind of experience that the driver wishes to enjoy. When the glass is “frosted” the glass reduces transparency which can help make the interior cooler as well as reduce glare. The instrument cluster is not entirely digital, but depending on trim, buyers can get either a 4.2 inch digital display or a bigger 7.0 inch display. Ahead of that is an optional 10-inch heads up display, while the rear view mirror can be made into a camera mirror. Like other rear camera mirrors, the idea here is to help improve visibility especially if the back is full of cargo.
The navigation system is good at showing turn b turn directions, but it also has a second purpose, with the system analyzing driving and road conditions to help with optimizing the charging for the battery. Select the Predictive Efficient Drive function, and this is taken up a notch, with the system learning your repetitive routes and help predict when and where the vehicle is likely to slow down. After it learns that, it can then guide you on optimum pedal release timing as well as tips to reduce energy consumption. The Venza also steals a page out of Lexus’s playbook, and comes equipped with the brand’s S-FLOW technology. S-FLOW is designed to direct the air conditioning to only the occupied seats which reduces the amount of energy being taken by the climate control system especially when paired with the optional heated and cooled front seats.
Toyota has loaded the Venza with a full suite of standard safety equipment which includes items such as adaptive cruise control, lane centering technology, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert. Pricing has not been released as of yet, but we expect the final figure to land closer to rivals like the Ford Edge and the Honda Passport with base models starting in the low $30,000 range and higher trims going over the $40,000 mark. Toyota claims that the Venza will begin hitting dealerships some time in August, with the full roll out expected to be completed towards the start of the new year.
Carl Malek has been an automotive journalist for over 10 years. First starting out as a freelance photographer before making the transition to writing during college, his work has appeared on numerous automotive forums as well as websites such as Autoshopper.com.
Carl is also a big fan of British vehicles with the bulk of his devotion going to the Morgan Motor Company as well as offerings from Lotus, MG, and Caterham. When he is not writing about automobiles, Carl enjoys spending time with his family and friends in the Metro Detroit area, as well as spending time with his adorable pets.