Toyota Venza: Best Car To Buy 2021 nominee

The Toyota Venza returned for 2021 after a six-year hiatus and developed into an all-wheel-drive hybrid crossover finished nice enough to be considered part of the Lexus luxury family. 

Loosely based on the 2021 Toyota RAV4 instead of the Camry-based 2015 model, the 2021 Toyota Venza dons a smoother more suburban style that looks good without trying too hard, the Venza seats five but the coupe-like roofline trims head room in back. Contrast stitching on synthetic leather upholstery looks and feels good, but Toyota limits real leather to the steering wheel and shift knob only. It's smaller than the RAV4, with up to 55.1 cubic feet of cargo room with the rear seats folded flat compared to 69.8 cubic feet in the RAV4.  

Venza uses the RAV4 Hybrid's 2.5-liter inline-4, a version of Toyota's hybrid system employing three motors in all, and a lithium-ion 0.9-kwh battery pack, which is smaller than that in the RAV4. Like other Toyota hybrids, the electric system can power the Venza at low speeds, but for more urgent demands the engine takes over with a groan that only intensifies under a heavier foot. The suspension and ride quality lean towards the Lexus reputation for a calm and quiet cabin with dull steering and soft, compliant handling built for comfort not speed. Its hole card is an EPA-rated 40 mpg city, 37 highway, 39 combined, just 1 mpg shy of the RAV4 Hybrid, which was a Best Car To Buy 2020. 

2021 Toyota Venza XLE - Portland, OR - July 2020

2021 Toyota Venza XLE - Portland, OR - July 2020

2021 Toyota Venza XLE - Portland, OR - July 2020

2021 Toyota Venza XLE - Portland, OR - July 2020

2021 Toyota Venza XLE - Portland, OR - July 2020

2021 Toyota Venza XLE - Portland, OR - July 2020

2021 Toyota Venza XLE - Portland, OR - July 2020

2021 Toyota Venza XLE - Portland, OR - July 2020

Starting at $33,590 including destination, it costs about $4,000 more than the RAV4 Hybrid but comes with larger 18-inch wheels, a larger 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto/Amazon Alexa compatibility, keyless entry, 8-way power driver's seat, and more standard safety features, with blind-spot monitors complementing automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, and more. Additionally, the Venza earned top crash-test ratings from the IIHS and the NHTSA. 

It's a good crossover, and an interesting alternative to the bestselling non-truck in the U.S., the RAV4.

Follow along as we crown The Car Connection's Best Car To Buy 2021 on Jan. 4, and reveal the best vehicles in 15 categories to help you choose the best cars, trucks, and SUVs. Vote for our annual Driver’s Choice awards and tell us what you think is best in every category. We'll also announce the winners from our sister sites, Motor Authority and Green Car Reports. 

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