Toyota expands hybrid lineup with Venza 2021 crossover

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The Toyota Venza 2021 arrives in Canada this summer.

Mark Richardson / The Globe and Mail

After an absence of five years, the compact Toyota Venza crossover will return to the Canadian market in August. This is a brand new five-seater, roughly the equivalent of the RAV4 SUV in size, and will be sold only as a hybrid with all-wheel drive.

The Venza is built on the same platform as the RAV4, Toyota Canada’s best-selling vehicle, but it is intended to be a little more upscale. It also shares the same hybrid powertrain as the RAV4 hybrid. In Japan, where it will be built, it is already sold as the Harrier and with a conventional gasoline engine based on the Corolla engine, but it is not considered to be powerful enough for North American tastes – the hybrid engine. gives it 219 hp and a towing capacity of 1,750 lb

“We have repeatedly said that by 2025 everything in our range will have an electrified option. In some cases, that means vehicles that are only available in an electrified version, “said Stephen Beatty, vice president of corporate affairs for Toyota Canada. Toyota also claims that 25% of its global sales in 2025 will be hybrid.

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The Venza has high-end interior finishes, which makes it look more like a Lexus.

Mark Richardson / The Globe and Mail

“The whole range is busy making this generation change towards electrification. If we bring something a little more upscale to this particular product segment, we want to give it the technology it deserves, the power it needs and the fuel economy. ”

The average fuel consumption would be 5.9 L / 100 km. The RAV4 hybrid has an average declared consumption of 6.0 L / 100 km, with ratings of 5.7 and 6.3 for city and highway driving.

Toyota stopped selling the Venza in 2015 because the US market preferred RAV4 and Highlander SUVs. It has always been a popular vehicle in Canada, surpassing even the largest Highlander, but Canadian demand alone was not enough to justify its construction. Toyota must sell at least 50,000 units worldwide of any consumer model to justify its existence, and this was not the case. The only other market for Venza was Russia, where it was also overshadowed by SUV sales.

Now, however, Toyota believes that a new market exists for a high-end crossover. The new Venza may be the same size as the RAV4 – it has 38 liters less rear cargo space, but varies only a few millimeters, if at all, in specification – but looks and looks more like a Lexus.

The interior dimensions are similar to those of the RAV4, with which the Venza shares a platform.

Mark Richardson / The Globe and Mail

“In recent years, the tastes of American buyers seem to be catching up to Canadians,” says Beatty. “You see an increased demand for all-wheel drive. You are seeing increased market interest in this space (five-passenger crossover). If you think about the popularity of the RAV4 hybrid for us, then have another similarly sized model that is fully hybrid but a little more upscale in terms of vehicle features and equipment, we think it’s a great one. opportunity. ”

The Venza is aimed at drivers who prefer the dynamics of a sedan to an SUV, although the height, width and wheelbase are almost identical to those of the RAV4 hybrid. The hybrid’s electric motors increase torque at low rpm and the all-wheel drive uses a dedicated electric motor to power the rear wheels when needed.

There are Normal, Eco and Sport electronic drive modes that adjust the throttle response and the shifting feel of the continuously variable transmission. An EV mode keeps the Venza at only electric power, but its range is only a few kilometers, intended for maneuvers in parking lots and similar uses.

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The Venza will have an electric mode only with a very limited autonomy.

Mark Richardson / The Globe and Mail

There is no price announced for the Venza yet, but it’s safe to assume it’ll cost a little more than the RAV4 Hybrid, which currently has an MSRP starting at $ 32,350 and is $ 42,790. .

“It’s a little more elegant and the feature sets are a little more upscale than the RAV4,” said Vinh Pham, director of product planning at Toyota Canada. “It is the quality of the tactile finish of the material. You will see that we have wrapped the dashboard in front of the passenger in soft-touch materials; the center console has many more elegant finishes. It is a combination of style, design and premium feel. ”

The central display touchscreen measures 12.3 inches in diameter on the two tallest versions of the Venza, compared to a maximum of 8 inches for the RAV4, while the front and rear LED indicators are standard. A small spray washer cleans the rear view camera lens outside the trunk, while an additional camera behind the rear window sends a large, clear digital image of the rear view to the mirror mounted on the windshield , if selected.

Then there is the “Star Gaze” panoramic roof, currently only available in the top-end Venza, which can be set to “clear” or “frosted” at the touch of a button. Both settings provide full UV protection. If it turns out to be popular, expect to see this as an option on many other Toyota and Lexus in the future.

Toyota says it has no plans to produce a plug-in hybrid version of the Venza – yet. He is waiting to measure the popularity of the RAV4 Prime plug-in, whose sales will start in July, before considering it.

There will be three distinct trim levels of the Venza, varying in amenities and standard features. All will have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. All will also have a pre-collision detection system that can react at any time to day bikes and pedestrians. Long list of standard driver assistance aids include active cruise control at all speeds, lane departure warning with steering assistance, automatic high beams and blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert. Premium Venzas will offer automatic parking assistance in the front and rear.

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Mark Richardson / The Globe and Mail

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