Your eyes do not deceive you, it is essentially a rebadged Toyota Harrier.
America really loves its SUVs, as evident by Toyota USA announcing the launch of the new Toyota Venza over there. Thus bringing their total SUV count in their lineup to 8.
Eager-eyed readers though may have already recognised the familiar looking Venza. As disregarding the different model badging, the Venza is basically a Japan-spec Toyota Harrier underneath. With all that talk about Americans paying a premium for JDM cars, here is one that is legally able to enter the US, even without it being more than 25 years old.
Sitting between the RAV4, RAV4 Prime and the Highlander in the Toyota range stateside, the Venza is there to fill a very tiny niche in the market. What that niche is however, is hard to tell.
As previously mentioned, the Venza is essentially a left-hand drive Harrier. It is even built in the Takaoka plant in Japan as the new Harrier before being shipped to the states. So unsurprisingly, underpinning the Venza is the same TNGA-K platform as seen on the latest Japanese-spec Harrier.
In terms of powertrain options, it comes as a surprise to no one that the Venza is to use the same engines as the Harrier. That being said, the only engine choice available for this American-spec Japanese SUV is the hybrid 2.5 litre four cylinder. Mated to 3 electric motors, this powertrain combination yields an adequate 219 hp.
More impressive however would probably be the fuel consumption figure of an estimated 39 mpg (16.6 km/l) and the fact that all Venzas sold in the US comes with all wheel drive as standard, thanks to those electric motors.
The exterior design and interior design too is a copy-paste job from the Harrier. Toyota, rather cunningly is using the same trick what Honda did with the Jazz in the States, by selling it under a different name. Toyota too have been guilty of this with the Scion FRS and Toyota GT86, so it is not a new trick even to them.
All snide remarks about confusing names aside though, the Venza is quite a looker both inside and out. No one can deny that the Venza is a curvy, shapely SUV, with more swooping lines than its more boxy stablemates like the RAV4. On the inside too, the Venza is nicely appointed. The dash design is the usual modern Toyota fare with the 12.3 inch touchscreen infotainment system and the 7 inch multi-information on the instrument cluster.
There are also some premium toys for the buyer who is more generous on the options list, with a 9 speaker, 12-channel JBL sound system and the Star Gaze electrochromatic panoramic glass roof amongst the many many items on the list.
In terms of safety, this mid-sized SUV comes with Toyota’s Safety Sense 2.0, thus bringing with it the usual active safety items like the pre-collision system, radar-guided cruise control, lane departure assist, automatic high beams, road sign assist and the blind spot monitor to name the few standout features.
Back to the question of who this Venza is for. Well, the only reasonable explanation would be that this Japanese SUV is for the people who liked the Lexus RX but can’t get one anymore.
On sale in early September, the Venza name is unlikely to make it far from the States. The body shape though may make an appearance here in Malaysia in the form of the latest generation Toyota Harrier, replacing the third generation one that was on sale here since 2017.
More information can be found in the press release below:
With a striking new debut, Toyota is breaking the sameness barrier in the midsize two-row crossover utility vehicle (CUV) category. The all-new 2021 Venza delivers an intuitive driving experience with smooth acceleration, predictable handling, and low noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH), all wrapped in a sophisticated design. Set to his dealerships by early September 2020, the 2021 Venza will have a starting manufacturer estimated retail price (MSRP) of $32,470 for LE, $36,000 for XLE and $39,800 for Limited (excluding the delivery, processing and handling (DPH) fee of $1,175).
The all-new 2021 Venza comes equipped exclusively with the Toyota Hybrid System II powertrain and advanced Electronic On-Demand All-Wheel Drive. Along with comfortable urban and highway performance, Venza is expected to have impressive fuel efficiency, with a preliminary manufacturer-estimated 39 MPG combined fuel economy.
The 2021 Venza, which will be assembled at the Takaoka Plant and arrives in Toyota dealerships this summer, is built around a version of the Toyota New Global Architecture K platform that underpins some of the company’s sedans and crossovers. As such, Venza delivers the best of both worlds: sedan-like driving comfort and CUV versatility.
The 2021 Venza offers ample room for five in a highly manoeuvrable package. A host of tech-focused features are available, including a 12.3-inch touchscreen display with nine JBL speakers, 7-inch multi-information display (MID), digital rear-view mirror, and 10-inch colour Head-Up Display. Other available features include a Star GazeTM fixed panoramic glass roof, a first-ever for Toyota, and heated and ventilated front seats that set the stage for true, graceful grand touring.
In addition to exemplary collision protection provided by the TNGA-K platform (projected to achieve top NHTSA safety ratings), the 2021 Venza comes standard with Toyota Safety Sense (TSS 2.0), a comprehensive suite of active safety systems that includes:
- 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)
Pre-Collision System with Daytime/Low-Light Vehicle and Pedestrian Detection, plus Daytime Bicycle Detection, offers automatic braking capability should the driver not react in time in an emergency situation. Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) with Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA) is standard on all grades, while XLE and Limited add Front and Rear Parking Assist with Automated Braking (PA w/AB).
Toyota Audio on the Big Screen
The 2021 Venza offers cutting edge entertainment and connectivity through intuitive and versatile Toyota audio systems. Audio Plus is standard on LE and XLE and includes an 8-inch touchscreen. Premium Audio with Dynamic Navigation and JBL is optional on XLE and standard on Limited and features a stunning 12.3-inch touchscreen display with controls that can be switched between driver or front passenger operation.
In addition to AM/FM radio, Toyota audio systems serve up a full roster of connectivity tech, including Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa compatibility, Bluetooth wireless technology, and more. Apple CarPlay includes access to Siri, while Android Auto users can access Google Assistant.
All Venza grades come with SiriusXM All Access 3-month trial Satellite Radio and HD Radio along with Toyota Remote Services trial subscriptions. Available dynamic navigation features enhanced 2D landmark display, land guidance display, and freeway exit display. All Venza models will come equipped with Toyota Safety Connect with a one-year trial subscription.
The standard 6-speaker audio with 4-channel amplifier provides clean, powerful sound for all types of music. Fervent music lovers will want the sonically gorgeous JBL Premium Audio System with 9 speakers, including a rear subwoofer, powered by a 12-channel, 1,200-watt amp – the most powerful system launched in a Toyota to date. It was designed exclusively for Venza with unique speaker architecture and tuned to the specific cabin space.
Visibility Through Technology
Venza’s top innovation is literally found on top of the vehicle. In a first for Toyota, the 2021 Venza offers an available Star GazeTM fixed panoramic glass roof. The Star GazeTM electrochromic glass technology allows drivers to switch from transparent to frosted modes within one second using the ON/OFF button. In the frosted mode, Star GazeTM brightens the interior while reducing direct sunlight, giving the cabin an even more open, airy, and inviting feeling.
Visibility-enhancing technology surrounds the driver. The Venza LE grade features a 4.2-inch color MID, while XLE and Limited grades receive a 7-inch color MID. In either display, a Hybrid System Indicator shows the driver system output and regeneration status to encourage eco-driving habits. As used on other Toyota hybrid models, the display suggests the optimal acceleration amount for eco driving and provides a game-like scoring function for the driver.
An available 10-inch color Head-Up Display projects vital information at eye level, including speedometer, hybrid system indicator, and TSS 2.0 functions.
The available digital rearview mirror with HomeLink universal transceiver on the new Toyota Venza helps the driver see what’s behind the vehicle. If rear passengers or luggage in the cargo area are blocking the view behind, a flip of a switch on the digital rearview mirror instantly provides the driver with a wide, unobstructed view from a rear camera. The mirror also reduces glare from headlights. To further aid outward visibility, the Limited grade comes standard with Bird’s Eye View Camera with Perimeter Scan, which provides a panoramic overhead view of the vehicle’s surroundings.
The standard backup camera features projected path and dynamic gridlines, while an available rear camera cleaning system sprays washer fluid to clear away water droplets, mud, snow, and snow-melting road treatments from the lens. A standard hands-free power liftgate can be set to lock automatically upon closing. For additional convenience, XLE and Limited grades come standard with a Smart Key System that works on all five doors.
Toyota made “hybrid” synonymous with high fuel efficiency more than 20 years ago with the first Prius. The Venza brings the number of Toyota Hybrids available to 10 – Mirai makes it 11 electrified vehicles – for 2021, more than any other brand.
The new-generation Toyota Hybrid System in the Venza combines a high-efficiency 2.5-liter DOHC four-cylinder engine with three electric motors in a highly compact system. The gas engine employs 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 (electric water pump, electric thermostat) and a fully variable oil pump further help improve engine efficiency.
The proven tech seamlessly delivers 219 total system horsepower and a projected preliminary manufacturer-estimated 39 combined MPG. As with all Toyota hybrids, the feeling of everyday acceleration and responsiveness is heightened by the way the electric motor boosts low-speed torque. The hybrid system optimizes the level of electric motor assistance and gas engine RPM without the engine running at high revs. Engine speed is synchronized with vehicle speed, yielding effortless and quiet acceleration. Venza’s hybrid system adopts a newly-developed lithium-ion battery to enhance performance and size and weight.
Selectable NORMAL, ECO and SPORT driving modes let the driver tailor the Venza’s performance personality. SPORT mode improves and sharpens throttle response, making fuel efficiency more fun. ECO mode changes the throttle and environmental logic to help the driver focus on maximizing mileage from the fuel and battery, while NORMAL mode is ideal for everyday driving. Additionally, EV mode allows electric-only driving at low speeds for short distances.
Using a sequential shifting feature, the driver can “downshift” to increase the regenerative braking in steps, which fosters greater control when driving in hilly areas, for example. As a bonus, the hybrid system enhances ride comfort by finely controlling the drive torque to suppress pitch under acceleration and deceleration.
Magically Reading the Road for Maximum MPG
Venza’s Predictive Efficient Drive (PED) uses the navigation system operation to analyze driving habits and memorize road and traffic conditions to help optimize hybrid battery charging. When the driver selects PED, the system learns repeating routes and is designed to predict when and where the vehicle is likely to slow down or stop. Then, through optimum accelerator pedal release timing guidance, it can help reduce energy consumption.
PED can help optimize battery charging and discharge ahead of hills or traffic congestion. When approaching a downhill section, for example, the system is designed to apply additional engine braking force to more efficiently charge the hybrid battery after the accelerator pedal is released.
Very Smooth, Supremely Confident
The inherent strength of the TNGA-K platform is the extensive use of high-strength steel. This allows front strut and rear multi-link suspension tuning that helps foster handling agility while providing a supple, quiet ride.
Venza’s handling is bolstered by an electronically controlled brake system featuring Active Cornering Assist (ACA), which engages the stability control to reduce understeer in certain cornering situations. The driver feels only the enhanced agility, not the system’s operation.
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.
The 2021 Venza LE rolls on 18-inch multi-spoke two-tone alloy wheels, while XLE and Limited come standard with 19-inch multi-spoke super chrome finished alloy wheels.
All-Wheel Drive at its Smartest
The 2021 Venza comes standard with Toyota’s Electronic On-Demand All-Wheel Drive, a highly efficient system that takes maximum advantage of the hybrid powertrain’s benefits. Instead of using a transfer case and driveshaft to the rear wheels, Electronic On-Demand AWD employs a separate rear-mounted electric motor to power the rear wheels when needed.
It works seamlessly and transparently, preemptively distributing up to 80 percent of driving force to the rear wheels which helps suppress front wheel slip during off-the-line starts. The system also enhances cornering agility by helping to reduce understeer.
Torque distribution varies with conditions, from 100:0 in constant-speed driving to 20:80 on slippery surfaces. Torque distribution can be indicated on the Multi-information Display and audio system screen.
Seats of Comfort and Power
Venza provides exemplary comfort with standard power seats (8-way driver on all grades and 4-way passenger on Limited). The power driver’s seat features an auto slide-away function. During driver entering or exiting, the seat automatically moves to the rearmost position to optimize ingress and egress. When the Venza is started, the seat moves to the last position set by the driver. Venza’s seats are not only comfortable, but stylish, with unique seat bolster stitching standard on the Limited grade.
The Venza’s available heated front seats can be adjusted in three levels. Ventilated front seats are standard on Limited and draw cool air from the air conditioning system into the seat for added comfort.
Venza employs S-FLOW cooling technology that first appeared on Lexus. The system directs air conditioning only to occupied seats, providing comfort and helping to reduce energy consumption. On the Limited and XLE with available 12.3-in display, the climate control system is operated with Intelligent Touch capacitive controls.
For customers who seek premium experiences in a vehicle, keeping unwanted noise out is paramount. The 2021 Venza provides a surprisingly quiet cabin experience. Rather than simply aiming at a “numbers” goal for sound level (decibels), Toyota engineers created a calm atmosphere conducive to enjoying easy conversation or hearing music in cleaner detail.
The high-strength TNGA-K platform is the first defence against noise intrusion, curbing vibration through the steering, floor and structure. Suspension tuning resists road surface disturbances, tire noise is reduced via strategically placed insulation, and an acoustic glass windshield helps minimise wind noise.
That’s just the beginning. Sound-blocking and absorbing insulation and body sealing material are placed throughout the structure, under the carpeting, and above the headliner. The materials and their placement were optimized to minimize noise in the frequencies that typically interfere with conversation.
As one example, the floor silencer pad is one large piece rather than separate segments. As a result, surface coverage reaches about 92 percent. Holes and gaps between parts are filled in with sound-damping material for greater road noise reduction.
Under the hood, sound-absorbing insulation around the engine compartment helps reduce intake noise, helped by the placement of two special resonance chambers that help minimize air intake noise in the 530Hz and 650Hz ranges.
Space for What Matters
The Venza doesn’t take up a lot of space outside yet provides generous space inside. Cupholders can accommodate large drink sizes, while the center stack tray can handle the largest iPhone models. Door bottle holders can take 24-oz bottles.
Venza offers 28.8 cu. ft. of carrying space behind the second row. The lithium-ion battery pack is small enough to be installed under the rear seats, so it does not take up any cargo or passenger space. The standard tonneau cover can be stored in the storage space beneath the deck board when not in use.
The 2021 Venza is equipped with eight airbags, including side curtain airbags. Toyota’s Star Safety System includes Enhanced Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRAC), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist (BA), Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), and Smart Stop Technology (SST).