There's no denying it. The Venza is one of the most attractive vehicles Toyota makes.
There's not a bad angle to this five-seat crossover---not a bad line anywhere. It looks like it was designed by Italians.
And that's the problem---as I noted in my review of the Venza when it first returned to the market in its second-generation body almost two years ago, form doesn't follow function here.
All U.S.-market Venzas are hybrid gasoline/electric with 219 system horsepower. The fuel economy numbers are strong---40 miles per gallon city, 37 highway.
Trouble is, that power output is identical to the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, which is 200 pounds lighter---and thus, quicker. Dealing with less weight, the RAV4 Hybrid also delivers better fuel economy (by a sliver)--41 city/38 highway. And, as I mentioned in my review of the 2021 Venza, the RAV4 Prime plug-in will blow the Venza's doors off with its 302 combined horsepower and deliver an EPA-estimated 39 for both city and highway, not counting the 39 miles of pure electric driving it gets per charge.
Why all these comparisons to the RAV4? After all, the Venza is a bigger vehicle, right? On the outside, yes. But there is slightly less room---both passenger and cargo---in the Venza than there is in the RAV4.
Our tester is the top-of-the-line Venza Limited. Base price $40,380. But the RAV4 Limited Hybrid starts at $38,075. And the hot-rod RAV4 Prime SE starts at $40,300, though the top-of-the-line XSE begins at $43,625. Still, $3,245 more (MSRP---today's dealer markups are out of control and unpredictable) for 302 horsepower and 39 miles of pure electric range per charge isn't out of line. Basically, the Venza may be great looking, but its got some strong competition from inside the family. You do get a lot for your money with the Venza Limited. Standard equipment includes Toyota's comprehensive Safety Sense 2.0, a nine-speaker JBL premium audio system, navigation, heated and ventilated power front seats and a heated steering wheel.
Our test vehicle has extra-cost options: $750 for the Advanced Technology Package (head-up display with speedometer and hybrid system indicators, and rain-sensing wipers), $425 for the premium Ruby Flare Pearl paint, $1,400 for a fixed panoramic glass roof, $11 for a soft portfolio to hold the owners' manual, $65 for wheel locks and $294 for the Preferred Accessory Package including the all-weather cargo liner.
With $1,215 delivery, processing and handling fee, the as-tested price of the 2022 Toyota Venza Limited is $44,515.
Perhaps most frustrating is that the Venza was launched during the pandemic. Supply chain issues and limited stock have people buying whatever's available that most closely fits their needs and wants, so there's no straightforward way to tell if the Venza has a following that chooses its undeniable style over the RAV4's slightly better practicality and performance.