To be honest, I totally forgot the Toyota Venza existed. Toyota had the first-gen, which was pretty much a tall wagon, and then I thought they had just discontinued the name and let it sail into the sunset. It turns out they did discontinue it in 2015, but it has returned 100% new for 2021. It’s smaller, more efficient, and overall a much better car.
I think the best way I came to describe the 2021 Venza was beige, but Toyota does beige very well. On top of actually being painted beige, or “Platinum Glow” as Toyota calls it, the Venza just does not have a ton of styling outside of the really impressive color. The only two distinctive features of the car seem to be the front grille with its hybrid badge and then the heckblende taillight that stretches across the entirety of the back of the car. In general, the car does not attract a lot of attention but that made it a perfect companion on the near 1000 miles road trip I undertook in the week I had it. While nobody notices your near $40,000 car, neither do any police officers as you zoom along your way.
The interior on the Venza is upscale but after having been in a Lexus RX, not quite to the Lexus level. This particular model was optioned with SofTex, a synthetic leather, which was soft and felt durable. The wood-like trim and higher-end plastics were nice enough to make me feel like I was in a more expensive vehicle. As far as tech and features, the 12.3-inch touch screen for the infotainment has managed to be one of my favorite Toyota infotainment systems I have used in a while. The radar cruise control worked as expected and the heated and ventilated seats were a nice surprise. Overall, the Venza is a nice place to be and for the price, a surprising deal.
The 2nd generation Venza is quite a bit smaller inside than the past generation Venza, but it also targets a different demographic. This is supposed to be roughly the same size as a Rav4 but in a nicer package. I can tell you it can hold a duffel bag, a pillow, a hockey bag, and a hockey stick but that’s about all I attempted. It seats five, but who needs more? The fuel economy is similar to the Rav4 Hybrids and I was even able to make it from my home just south of Nashville, TN to Greeneville, SC without stopping. That’s over 350 miles and nearly 6 hours of driving, much more time than most people would consider reasonable for a straight shot.
While again, not as incredibly smooth and vibrationless as a Lexus RX, the Venza held its own, and after half a day without stopping I did not find myself in any discomfort or annoyance with the car. The actual driving of the Venza is as beige feeling as the exterior is looking but to be fair, that is the point. Acceleration happens eventually and the steering does not inspire confidence but it’s comfortable when road tripping or commuting alike and that’s all that matters to a buyer of this car.
Overall, I surprisingly found myself liking the Venza. No, it was not a fun sports car or an off-road beast but it was exactly what I needed that weekend and it was something I could see owning as a daily driver that could also be used for road trips. For under $40k, it’s a great vehicle and a perfect way for most people to get from Point A to Point B. Not bad for a car I forgot existed.