When We last saw the Toyota Venza it was a much different offering. Designed to be a comfortable crossover for empty nesters, the Venza’s sales reflected this with that version performing well below Toyota’s expectations of 75,000 to 100,000 sales per year. However, going full circle can sometimes be a good thing and Toyota is aiming to achieve just that with the 2022 Venza. This iteration of the Venza appears to have alot of the core attributes down, but are they all enough to finally make it a sales winner?
Venza Styling Goes In Radical But More Aerodynamic Direction
The current generation model first made its appearance back in 2021 and as a result, the 2022 model arrives with no major changes to the formula. That’s a good thing since this iteration of the Venza has styling that’s far more memorable than its story predecessor. While the look itself is not as practical as boxier offerings, the Venza still has a distinct flair to it with the headlights doing a pretty good impression of a Lexus product from some angles. The small front grille wraps both ends of the front together but the large intake underneath does remind us of a bottom-dwelling catfish and it jars with the rest of the theme.
The side profile is slightly sportier than some of its rivals, but the stroke of the pen is limited to a bold character line that runs along the upper half of the Venza to the rear. Here, the taillights are swapped out for a slender lightbar arrangement and it does a good job injecting some sci-fi charm into the Venza’s looks. It also serves as a prominent divide line between the upper and lower sections of the liftgate and as a result, it can look a bit awkward from some angles. Limited models like our example add more chrome and replace the halogen fog lamps with LED foglamps.
Venza Interior Delivers Sustainable Luxury
Before we get into some of the cool features that define the Venza’s cabin, we might as well address the white elephant in the room, roominess. When we slipped inside our tester, we expected it to have room that would be above the smaller RAV4 SUV. However, longer exposure revealed that the cabin is actually less spacious than the RAV4. Both passenger room and cargo space is less and taller occupants will be cramped in the rear seats.
With that out of the way occupants will still find that the Venza can carry a decent amount of stuff and the technology on the Venza will undoubtedly be the thing that turns heads the most. The Venza’s dashboard has a clean ergonomic design and some of the knobs and switches were replaced with haptic feedback controls though thankfully, the knobs and dials were retained for key things like the climate control and other features. The Venza is the first Toyota to offer an electrochromic roof and while a few McLaren models beat Toyota to the punch in this regard, it still manages to leave an impact on Venza owners and does a good job keeping the sunlight out on sunnier days. A digital rearview mirror also comes along for the ride and Toyota claims that the seats in our tester are actually made out of a leather substitute to promote sustainability.
An 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system is standard on the Venza but buyers looking to go bigger will have to go to either the XLE or a range-topping model like our Limited example to get access to the bigger 12.3-inch screen. Both screens come with standard Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa capability but navigation and the beefier JBL Premium Audio system can only be obtained with the bigger screen.
Venza’s Hybrid Lifestyle Aims To Create Balance
Toyota engineers knew that range anxiety is still a concern for buyers of pure EV vehicles, and that’s why they opted to make the Venza a hybrid-only offering. All Venza models are powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder which is then mated to three electric motors. The combination allows the Venza to wield 219 hp and the setup also allows the Venza to have standard all-wheel drive with two of the motors powering the front wheels while the rear motor powers the rear wheels.
In theory this would give the Venza a performance edge, however, in practice we were underwhelmed by the driving experience with our tester making the dash to 60 mph in a sluggish 7.6 seconds with acceleration feeling restricted by the fuel mileage focused engine tuning. The CVT also plays a role in this as well, but the EPA does say that the Venza is capable of achieving 40 mpg in city driving and 37 mpg in the freeway which is double what you find in the Honda Passport and the Ford Edge. Handling in the Venza won’t set the world on fire, but urban dwellers will be pleased with how well it handles tight urban commuting as well as longer jaunts to the outskirts of town.
Braking here is smooth and stable and in our time with it, the Venza’s regenerative braking wasn’t too intrusive which is a plus for some green vehicle buyers that might otherwise be bothered by that tendency. That said, the Venza lacks the dynamics that are often seen in other SUVs (hybrid or otherwise) and Toyota is hoping that the Venza’s futuristic technology will help win them over.
Pricing for the 2022 Toyota Venza is largely a simplified affair with the model being divided into three trim levels the base $32,890 LE, the mid-level $36,425 XLE, and the range-topping $40,380 Limited model. Our Limited came peppered with a light helping of options which helped nudge the final sticker to a final figure of $43,720.
In contrast, the Ford Escape and the Honda CR-V both have base prices firmly in the $26,000 range and they also offer a more traditional driving experience. The Escape also offers both a traditional and plug-in hybrid version but it does suffer from questionable interior quality and lacks some of the Toyota’s futuristic tech. The CR-V on the other hand is a much closer rival to the Venza, especially as a hybrid. The CR-V’s design is more conventional-looking and the interior is on par with the Toyota’s. A base Touring Hybrid is also slightly less expensive at $37,400 but the Honda’s infotainment system doesn’t have the Amazon Alexa capability to go along with its Apple CarPlay and Android Auto moves.
The 2022 Toyota Venza may seem like a CUV entry that’s on the outside looking in at first glance, but once you get a chance to analyze the fine aspects of the Venza’s personality there are plenty of things to like about it. The electrochromic roof is a novel conversation starter that helps remove a bulky window cover while the impressive degree of sustainable materials allows the Venza to firmly cash in its green credentials. Here’s hoping that it can win over customers in a rapidly tightening sales race in the utility segment.
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.