Wheel Woman: Getting Zen in the 2021 Toyota Venza

I’m taking the Zenza to get groceries!

Not a typo. Zenza was the nickname I gave to the 2021 Toyota Venza during my week in the hybrid tester.

Just looking at the Venza gave me a sense of peace and calm, as if I’d been practicing Zen meditation. I couldn’t go far in the stylish crossover, thanks to Covid lockdown in Nova Scotia, but many spins around the block had me feeling all omm.

You may not realize the first generation Venza had been discontinued with still so many on the roads – a testament to the staying power of Toyota vehicles. I must admit I never really liked the looks of the first Venza, built from 2008 until 2017, on the Camry platform.

The 2021 Venza, now riding on the same chassis as the RAV4, changed that opinion. More streamlined, less bulbous, the new Venza, with its sleek light bar across the rear, is elegant and pretty, especially adorned in Ruby Flare Pearl paint.

 

2021 Toyota Venza Limited (Photo: Garry Sowerby)

 

The word ‘Venza’ was said to be a mix of ‘venture’ and ‘Monza’. Strange to name a crossover (or was it a wagon?) after a famous Italian racetrack but, omm, just let it go.

The ads back then for the U.S.-built Venza proclaimed: “You’re more than One Thing. So is Venza”. Venza is now built in Japan and is only available as a hybrid-electric, making for a tranquil driving experience. Comfortable seats add to the spa-like feeling.

And that Star Gaze Panoramic Roof!

The roof is made of electrochromic ‘smart’ glass, which is many layers of ultra-thin coating that tint when a voltage is applied to the glass. As ions and electrons transfer from one layer to the next, the glass darkens. Removing the voltage returns the glass to its clear state.

How many times did I press that button in the 2021 Venza? I loved the ambient glow created by the frosted glass, like the first-class cabin of a Boeing 787 Dreamliner. A lot of science behind that fancy party trick.

 

 

Our Venza tester was in Limited trim which includes top-of-the-line tech like pedestrian and bicycle detection, a 1200-watt JBL Audio System with a 12.3-inch touch screen and soft-touch capacitive switches on the control panel (a bit finicky and not as intuitive as knobs).

 

 

The Limited trim also provides a 10-inch head-up display, digital display rear view mirror, illuminated front scuff plates and rain sensing wipers.

Powered by Toyota’s hybrid-electric powertrain, a 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine and three electric motors mated to a continuously variable transmission (not too droney) make 219 horsepower. The new Venza claims best fuel-efficiency in the mid-size two-row crossover segment.

 

2021 Toyota Venza (Photo: Garry Sowerby)

 

The 2021 Venza is a fine example of Toyota’s intention to offer Canadians an electrified option of every model it sells by 2025.

My only complaint: More compartments to store stuff. Toyota typically excels in this area, so I was surprised to not find all the usual nifty little spaces to put phone, keys, you know, stuff.

But maybe stuff is overrated. Omm, just let it go.

 

Lisa feeling all zen with the 2021 Toyota Venza (Photo: Garry Sowerby)

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