The mainstream mid-size crossover market is already a heated one, filled with plenty of offerings including the Ford Edge, Chevy Blazer, Honda Passport, Nissan Murano, Jeep Grand Cherokee, and Volkswagen Atlas Cross. But now, one more rival has emerged – the all-new 2021 Toyota Venza.
The Venza nameplate was discontinued back in 2015, but it has now returned as a mid-size, two-row crossover utility vehicle that will once again slot between the RAV4 and Highlander in Toyota’s lineup.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about the reborn Venza is the fact that it’s only available with one powertrain option – the Toyota Hybrid System II, which is coupled with Toyota’s Electronic On-Demand All-Wheel Drive. The hybrid system consists of a 2.5L DOHC four-cylinder engine paired with three electric motors. The vehicle is expected to return up to 40 miles-per-gallon combined.
The gasoline engine employs a Variable Valve Timing-intelligent system by Electric motor (VVT-iE) on the intake camshaft, and VVT-i on the exhaust camshaft. A variable cooling system comprised of an electric water pump, and an electric thermostat, plus a fully variable oil pump further help improve engine efficiency. Total horsepower comes in at 219, and Toyota touts the Venza’s ability to maximize acceleration thanks to its electric motors, which are designed to boost low-end torque.
Meanwhile, the Ford Edge is available with a pair of internal combustion engine options – the ubiquitous 2.0L EcoBoost I-4 that produces 250 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque, and the 2.7L EcoBoost V6 in the Edge ST, which produces 335 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque. Both of these powertrains are backed up by Ford’s eight-speed automatic transmission.
In terms of overall size, the Venza is a bit small compared to its rivals, including the Ford Edge. In fact, it shares the same 105.9-inch wheelbase as the compact RAV4, while being 5.7 inches longer for a total length of 186.6 inches. Cargo space is even more sparse, with just 36 cubic-feet in the back, which is two less than the RAV4, though the two share identical rear-seat space.
By comparison, the Edge is 188.8 inches long and rides on a 112.2-inch-long wheelbase, making it quite a bit larger than the new Toyota entry.
The biggest difference between the RAV4 and the Venza is the quality of the interior materials. The Venza features a premium, upscale exterior and interior design, along with a slew of up-level equipment including a large 12.3-inch touchscreen display, a digital rearview mirror, a heads-up display, and a panoramic glass roof with a “frost control” feature.
The 2021 Toyota Venza goes on sale exclusively in the U.S. this August. Pricing hasn’t yet been announced, but we imagine that it will start out somewhere in the mid-$30,000 range. Overall, the new Venza is an interesting rival for the Ford Edge, with its clean styling, impressive efficiency, and premium features, though it is smaller than the Edge.
It remains to be seen how the new Venza will ultimately fare with such big deficiencies in terms of power output and cargo capacity.