Ten years ago, when we bought a Toyota hybrid product, we were driving a particular vehicle in the eyes of those around us. With the Venza 2021 utility vehicle, Toyota shows that today this type of mixed engine has become the norm.
If this view seems new to you, on the contrary the name Venza should sound familiar to you. Resulting from the contraction of ” Venture ” and of ” Monza ”, This neologism designated another Toyota product sold from 2009 to 2016; a model which, like the new one, had an “in-between” vocation.
The then Venza was used as a bridge between the Camry sedan and the Highlander utility. Consumer reluctance towards it, however, convinced Toyota to withdraw it from the market after a few years. At the time, a utility of this size was believed to have had three rows of seats. The Highlander was therefore sufficient for the task.
As utilities have entered the market, consumers have developed new tastes. At least, that’s what the current proliferation of SUV subcategories suggests. Because now, there is indeed a niche of mid-size utilities that only have five seats, no more. While the old Venza only had the Ford Edge and Nissan Murano as rivals, the new model faces a wider range of competitors. I am thinking, for example, of the Chevrolet Blazer, the Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport, the Honda Passport and even the Subaru Outback. At the very least, the Toyota has something to distinguish itself with its standard hybrid powertrain; an ordinary hybrid system, and not pluggable like that of the new RAV4 Prime, it should be specified.
Still very new
The Venza 2021 is still new to our market. Made in Japan, it made its Canadian debut last September. Within the Toyota range, it now bridges the RAV4 and Highlander, two models with which it shares its platform. By its appearance, its extensive endowment and its meticulous finish, it can however also replace certain luxury models, starting with the Lexus NX. Comparable in size and slightly more expensive, the latter is manufactured by Toyota on a separate platform.
The NX range offers, among other things, a hybrid version, the NX 300h, which uses an engine similar to that of the Venza. Both have a 2.5L 4-cylinder thermal engine. In each case, this Atkinson cycle engine is mated to a continuously variable automatic gearbox, as well as three electric motors: a motor that recharges the engine. battery, another which helps drive the front wheels and a third which takes care of the rear wheels. Because the 2021 Venza has four-wheel drive (a reactive or “on-demand” type system, if you prefer).
Photo: Guillaume Rivard
In the case of the Venza, the electric motors are powered by a new model of 0.9 kWh lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery known to be efficient and compact. The NX Hybrid has a slightly larger 1.6 kWh nickel metal hydride (NiMH) battery. Compared to the ordinary NX, its trunk has a useful volume less than 2 to 5%, depending on the use made of it.
Such a small capacity battery does not allow the Venza to cover great distances in electric mode, as a RAV4 Prime can. At the most, it can cover a kilometer without the intervention of the heat engine, and again, when the conditions are very favorable. But the purpose of an ordinary hybrid powertrain is quite different.
It essentially aims to substantially reduce fuel consumption compared to an equivalent model powered only by a heat engine. For example, while the Lexus NX 300 equipped with the 2.0L 4-cylinder turbo has an average fuel consumption of 9.7 L / 100 km, according to EnerGuide, the new Venza has a much lower average of 6.1 L / 100 km (in winter driving we got 7.0 L). No need, either, to install an electric terminal to recharge the battery of this vehicle, since this operation is carried out while driving, without intervention of the driver.
In Canada, Toyota offers three levels of staffing for this utility. The entry-level LE model is well-equipped with, among other things, heated front seats, an infotainment system compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a wireless charging system for cellphones. The mid-size XLE provides richer equipment as suggested by its JBL 1,200-watt 9-speaker hi-fi system with 12.3 ” touchscreen (the LE has an 8 ” screen), as do the 19 “alloy wheels that replace the 18” LE wheels.
The top-of-the-range Limited model offers, for its part, exclusive equipment which assimilates it to Lexus products such as its 10-inch head-up display (really very effective), a digital interior rear-view mirror, illuminated door sill plates. front, rain-activated wipers and an overhead viewing system with rear-view camera washer. Its endowment also includes a fixed panoramic glass roof called Star Gaze, which is equipped with an electrochromic system to control its opacity instantly. Its operation is impressive!
The interior is spacious, especially for the rear seat occupants, and the bucket seats are tight and comfortable. The finish is impeccable and the soundproofing effective. As for the controls gathered in the central part of the dashboard, as for the screen, they are all tactile. This design, which requires more attention from the driver, also requires a good period of acclimatization.
The Venza is also popular with its large convertible trunk, which hides practical storage space under the rear part of its floor. On the other hand, regulars of the old Venza may regret to learn that this new model is not designed to pull a trailer. The manufacturer makes this clear in the owner’s manual. The old Venza had a towing capacity of up to 1,585 kg (3,500 lb) when it was equipped with the 3.5L V6. Today, the buyer who wants the same can turn to the Highlander Hybrid. .
In video: what you need to know about the 2021 Nissan Venza