Review: 2022 Toyota Venza Limited is the best car they make
Attractive? Check. Hybrid economy? Check. Surprisingly nice interior? Check.
2022 Toyota Venza Limited review with The Road Beat.
Words and pictures by Mitchell Weitzman.
What is it?
Toyota brought back the Venza name last year, with the original and awkward Camry-meets-SUV fusion mess having been canceled back in 2015. It's back, closely related to the RAV4 Hybrid, and it's probably the best overall vehicle Toyota currently makes. Like a quality, authentic burrito (no, I'm not talking about Chipotle here), the ingredients inside come together in a capably congruous concoction that will stimulate most appetites. It won't light the world on fire - it's not a burrito served wet with all the gooey melted cheese on top - but this is a simple creation that works well in any environment.
The Venza, especially in its high-spec Limited trim, has all the goods that the casual buyer (the target market for a vehicle like this, remember) could and would want. Most Toyota designs are hit or big misses, but the Venza is a thoroughly attractive car, with smooth curves and tapered ends. It's decidedly upscale in appearance and reminiscent of a Lexus, except the Venza is prettier than any SUV Lexus currently makes. The style continues inside with swooping lines meeting soft, quality leather and touch points. The switchgear is typical Toyota-cheap, and the infotainment screen looks a little dated, but this interior is built to a higher standard than the related RAV4 Limited. Comfortable, too.
Of course, like other Toyotas and rivals, there's lots of equipment onboard, like heated and cooled seats, a big sunroof, Apple CarPlay, a bird's eye view camera here, head-up display, and lots of safety features. Not unique among the class, but still worth noting for those wanting their transportation feature-laden. The total cost as-tested for this loaded Venza Limited is $44,655.
Another highlight is the Venza's outrageously good fuel economy. Averaging 35 MPG during my week with the Venza is a terrific achievement for a vehicle of this size, and serves testament to how far hybrid technology has come. For those weary of charging an electric car, the Venza comes across as an understandable and faithful compromise to those not ready to devote their life to the plug.
Now, the Venza is highly boring to drive, lacking enthusiasm whichever direction you point. While this is a negative to myself, this is a plus point to Toyota's customer base; They're not looking for excitement, they're looking for comfy and reliable transportation. When looked at from this accurate perspective, the Venza is perfect. The main positives are that it's comfortable, fuel efficient, and easy to drive. It does drive straight, with no wandering on the highway, and the steering is light and responsive enough, and the car even goes most directions you ask; It's the ideal Toyota.
Like I said, the Venza is a bore on the road, so don't buy one to drive with any level of intent and aggression. As a car to just hop in and drive to everyday destinations, it works stupidly well. There are some minor drawbacks worth pointing out, though. On the inside, the placement of the start/stop button is bad, coming across as a complete after thought. I am convinced that the engineers made the entire car and then realized their grave mistake of not including one. "How do we start it?" "Uhhhh, about that." So, awkwardly placed in a space-stealing storage cubby was obviously the only remedy. Wireless phone charging is done in the same place, and it can be tricky to slide your fingers in this space and grab your phone, too.
Acceleration is not noteworthy, taking a smidge over eight seconds for a 0-60 MPH run. That's faster than a VW Tiguan at least, but a RAV4 Hybrid is a few tenths quicker with an identical powertrain. Speaking of the RAV4, the Venza is smaller on the inside, with rear seat and cargo storage suffering a disadvantage. Now, the back seats are still more than suitable for adults, but they just don't possess the same abundance as its stablemate. Out back, the roofline slopes downward on the Venza for improved looks, but this does compromise the cargo volume. A big enough vehicle? Yes, but smaller than alternatives. Price also rises for the modest luxury the Venza has, with a marginally higher cost than a comparable, but less upscale RAV4 Hybrid Limited. Honda's CR-V Touring Hybrid costs nearly $5,000 less. Interior isn't as nice, and the economy falls slightly short, but the savings are considerable for those not wanting a Toyota.
Some other thoughts that affect all Toyotas, not just the Venza, is a an all-too busy digital instrument cluster. There are numbers and figures scattered all about in front of you, which is completely unnecessary. Not everyone is a computer-builder who actively monitors the temps of all 16 individual CPU cores along with fan speed and GPU percentages. No, we don't need all that here. A simplification would bring a more pleasing look ahead. The fuel gauge, together with its range readout, is also inaccurate, predicting a mere 400 miles of total driving from a full tank, when it should bring an easy 500 miles when averaging 35 gallons on a 14.5 gallon tank. That's just simple middle school math. C'mon.
Toyota's radar cruise control continues to be too intrusive and eager to hit the brakes sharply while also consistently driving 1 MPH under my set speed on the freeway. Oh, and I had a bizarre incident where the Venza's brakes intervened because of a predicted collision that was so far away from happening I'm surprised the car behind me didn't rear end me. Must've been a fluke, because this has never happened in any Toyota prior let alone repeated in this Venza. The car also temporarily cut power so that I couldn't accelerate for a few moments after.
I really do think this is Toyota's best current offering. It's stylish, has an upscale interior, great economy, and it drives exactly like a Toyota should. Unless you're wanting to maximize space, I'd choose the Venza over a RAV4 Hybrid any day. Other hybrids from competing brands can't seem to match Toyota when it comes to fuel economy from their own hybrids. I point out a number of small details that could and should be improved, but the core values of what people are looking for in a car, the Venza nails it.
2022 Toyota Venza Limited
As-tested price: $44,655
Pros: Stylish inside and out; great economy
Cons: Smaller than a RAV4
Verdict: Toyota's unexpected star vehicle