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  • Writer's pictureCory Fourniquet

Venza Reborn

This week, Japanese automaker Toyota announced a couple new products via their virtual showcase in lieu of in in-person launch. The first product announced should come as no surprise to anyone that it is of the crossover SUV variety.

Toyota announced Monday its plans to bring the 5-passenger midsize Venza crossover back into production, reviving a nameplate that was discontinued in June of 2015.

In a world obsessed with crossovers, Toyota aims to break the mold on the mid-size segment...

This is no ordinary 5-passenger crossover. No, indeed every model has been #Hybridified (a term coined by Matt in our latest podcast episode). This is no standard hybrid either, this is part of a unique, standard electronic on-demand AWD system in which the front wheels are driven by an internal combustion engine and two electric motors and the rears are left to work with a third on-demand electric motor.

The internal combustion engine resting under the hood is a 2.5L DOHC four-cylinder with variable valve timing working in conjunction with the aforementioned electric motors to produce a total system output of 219 hp while yielding and estimated 40 MPG on certain models. The system uses Toyota's newly adopted lithium-ion batteries to help keep things moving.

The 2021 Venza, like its departed forbearer, rides on a modified TNGA-K platform, or in layman's terms it is a modified Camry. This means it should ride well, be quiet and comfortable, and be a steady rock for many many miles. Much like many of the newer hybrids on the performance market, the hybrid system in the 2021 Venza is not just about hypermiling fuel efficiency, it is also about driving precision and perhaps a bit of fun. In fact, up to 80% of the driving force of the vehicle can be shifted to the rear wheels when needed, aiding with wheel-slip on a brisk takeoff or while cornering. Not that you will be hitting the track in your mid-size crossover, but if you did the system would help reduce under-steer and pilot you effortlessly around any corner.

The hybrid system uses a differential torque pre-load function, which enhances acceleration and deceleration controllability when starting off or cornering on normal or slippery roads. The feature also helps enhance steering performance at higher speeds, straight-line stability and controllability on rough roads.

But you don't buy a family-hauler like this to race around hairpin turns or drag from stoplight to stoplight. You buy a vehicle like this to cruise, either running errands around town or hitting the highway for a family road trip. That is where the 2021 Venza shines. If you can get past the flating tablet jutting up from the center-stack, this is a very attractive interior with contrasting colors, materials, and stitching. Engineers were more focused on the experience of the cabin than they were on hitting certain benchmark numbers, and it shows in the clean lines and the calming effect of the cabin.

Standard and optional interior goodies include, but are not limited to:

  • 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity.

  • 9-speaker JBL audio system with rear subwoofer and 1,200 watts of power

  • a NEW and innovative Star Gaze (TM) fixed panoramic glass roof that can electronically switch from transparent glass to frosted modes within one second for an open and airy feeling in the cabin.

  • 10-inch color heads up display for projecting vital information to the driver without the need to take eyes off the road.

  • Digital rearview mirror to help see "through" all the luggage you have packed for your family's long vacay.

  • Bird's Eye view camera to allow you to see all around your Venza when maneuvering in and out of tight spots.

  • Hands free liftgate that can operate with a kick of your foot under the rear bumper.

  • 8-way power seats with driver ingress/egress assistance

  • Heated and ventilated front seats with a feature pulled from the Lexus division:

    • S-FLOW directs air conditioning only to occupied seats, to help reduce unnecessary energy consumption.

  • 8 airbags

  • As well as a suite of safety features Toyota dubs TSS 2.0, or Toyota Safety Sense

    • Pre-Collision System with Daytime/Low-Light Vehicle and Pedestrian Detection, plus Daytime Bicycle Detection (PCS)

    • Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC)

    • Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist (LDA w/SA)

    • Automatic High Beams (AHB)

    • Lane Tracing Assist (LTA)

    • Road Sign Assist (RSA)

Interior volume measures 36.3 cu. ft. behind the second row, no word yet on the carrying capacity with the second row folded flat, but Toyota points out that the lithium-ion battery necessary for the hybrid system fits conveniently under the second row of seats, saving room for more gear in the process.

Toyota also sends the 2021 Venza out the door with a 36-month/36,000 mile basic warranty. This "new-vehicle warranty applies to all components other than normal wear and maintenance items. Additional 60-month warranties cover the powertrain for 60,000 miles and against perforation from corrosion for 60 months with no mileage limitation. Hybrid-related components that require repairs needed to correct defects in materials or workmanship are covered for 8 years/100,000 miles, whichever comes first from original date of first use when sold as new. The HV battery is covered for 10 years/150,000 miles, whichever comes first, and is transferrable across ownership.

The 2021 Venza also comes standard with ToyotaCare, a complimentary plan covering normal factory-scheduled maintenance, for two years or 25,000 miles, whichever comes first, and 2 years of Roadside Assistance, regardless of mileage," according to the press release.

If you want to hear Matt and Cory sound off about the new Venza, as well as other car news and topics, be sure to check out the episode featuring this breaking news on their podcast.

You can also read more from Toyota themselves by clicking here.

Until next time...bye!

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