Tuesday, May 21, 2024

2022 Toyota Venza

Benjamin Yong Darpan, 23 Sep, 2022
  • 2022 Toyota Venza

Electrified comeback

In a bold but not unexpected move for Toyota, the Japanese manufacturer brought the Venza back for a second generation in 2020 with a major twist: the former station wagon slash minivan is now exclusively sold as a hybrid. Oh, and it now looks like a proper crossover as well.

“Toyota Venza reinvents the segment for the modern age with a perfect blend of smart, stylish design, a refined interior thoughtfully appointed with premium materials, and cutting-edge entertainment and connectivity technology,” says Cyril Dimitris, Toyota Canada vice president, in a media release.

The model was actually discontinued in 2015 due to poor sales and the future of the vehicle seemed grim at the time. Perhaps that was reason enough for the brand to shake things up the second go-round. 

First lets address the aforementioned appearance. Yes, the predecessor really was in a unique class blending a couple of form factors. Now though the aesthetic is more mainstream, whether that’s a good or bad thing is up to the buyer to decide. Built upon the TNGA-K platform, the slim LED headlamps and full-width LED taillight bar, sloping roof and large 19-inch multi-spoke “super chrome” two-tone alloy wheels on the Limited grade Darpan evaluated make for quite a handsome product, actually. At 4,740 millimetres long the size is just right. Not too big or small.

Also found on the Limited trim is the Star Gaze fixed panoramic glass roof. A tap of a button switches the electrochromic glass from clear to opaque and vice versa, bathing the cabin in varying amounts of natural light. The display audio infotainment system remains a contentious topic for consumers — I personally find the knob-less 12.3-inch touchscreen a nuisance to tune radio stations, for example, which is a shame because there’s a 1200-watt, nine-speaker JBL stereo wanting to be enjoyed. 

Toyota has gotten pretty good at the partially-electrified powertrain game having perfected it for over two decades now. The 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine and three electric motor setup, mated to an automatic CVT transmission, in the Venza is the same one used in the uber-popular RAV4 Hybrid and outputs 219 net horsepower and 163 lb-ft of torque. And while there is a pure EV driving mode available, the range is miniscule and is only meant for short in-city trips.

Not exactly a performance SUV, the vehicle nonetheless feels zippy enough during acceleration thanks to the electric motor boost. In addition, the aforementioned TNGA-K, utilizing a lot of high-strength steel, combined with the front strut and rear multi-link suspension provide a quiet, stable ride and fairly agile handling experience. 

The company says behind the scenes, Active Cornering Assist (part of the electronically-controlled brake system) engages onboard stability control to reduce understeer during certain cornering situations. A differential torque pre-load function enhances traction and steering control on slippery surfaces as well.

As with all models in the lineup, a robust driver assistance package is standard as part of the Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 suite bundling radar cruise control, lane departure alert, automatic high beams and many more. 

Highlights (as tested)

MSRP: $48,550 

Motor: 2.5-litre four cylinder + three electric motors

Horsepower: 219 @ 5,700 rpm

Torque (lb-ft): 163 @ 5,200 rpm

Gearbox: CVT

Layout: front engine, all-wheel drive

Fuel economy: 8.0 L/100 km mixed city/highway (observed)


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Though smallish in appearance, the inside is quite roomy. Rear seat legroom is decent —— due to a slim seat back design utilizing ultra-light “giga-steel” in its construction — and the cargo area can accommodate 690 litres of stuff when the second row is upright, or 1,422 litres when folded down.

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A 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, is complemented by two electric motors and a 400-volt battery pack. The resulting performance is nothing to scoff at: a total of 375 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque. 

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The level of premium appointments in the interior is absolutely stunning. The cabin in our near grade-topping Sensory tester, slotting under the $67,995 Autograph, was draped in gorgeous melt-to-the-touch Saddle Brown semi-aniline leather with complementary hits of open pore ash wood looking elegant rather than gaudy as the trim sometimes can.

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The most immediately noticeable outdoorsy aspect is the use of copious amounts of black body cladding on the bumpers, wheel arches and side sills. The addition of the off-road-ready armour complements the wind-swept lines of Kodo styling language surprisingly well, particularly in the desert-esque Zircon Sand Metallic paint colour of Darpan’s press loaner.

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The already-excellent Lexus Safety System+ suite of technologies benefits from a few additions such as enhanced camera and radar equipment to help the pre-collision detection spot not just oncoming vehicles but preceding cyclists and pedestrians as well.

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Formerly offering an already healthy range of 335 kilometres on a single charge of the 78 kilowatt-hour high-voltage battery, minor digital tweaks to energy and thermal management ups the number by 24 to a total of 359 kilometres. Owners of 2021 vehicles are also eligible for the upgrade.