Some of you may be familiar with the name Venza. It was Toyota's crossover that slotted was bigger than the RAV4 but smaller than the truck-based 4Runner. It was made from late 2008 to 2017 and had no replacement since. Now it's back, and it looks rather familiar.
That's because the all-new and revived Venza is the international version of the Harrier, which also made its premiere this year. Think of the Venza then as a half-step towards the Lexus NX and a RAV4 for grown-ups.
While it's easy to dismiss it as a mere rebadge of a Japanese-market car, there are some key changes. For instance, the Venza is only available as a hybrid, and because it's sold in the US, that means it comes in left-hand drive. Does this mean there's a chance that it will be sold here too?
But first, the car itself. It looks the same as the Japan-market Harrier from bumper to bumper. There are the long, slim headlights and a sizeable lower air intake, which Toyota seems to have a liking for these days. Soft, gentle curves are featured throughout its front and flanks, while sharp lines dominate the rear.
A sleek, rakish roofline adds a bit of flair to the crossover, and, in some ways, it somewhat brings back some Lexus RX elements, even if the two haven't been related to each other in a long time. One defining piece of the design seen on the Venza/Harrier is its high-mounted and slim taillights, which should turn a few heads.
On-board the Venza, it's simply the Harrier's interior with the steering wheel on the left-hand side. Like most new Toyotas, the dash is a two-layer design, but it's more on the curvy side than edgy. A large infotainment screen takes center stage at the top of the dash with its 'floating' design. The center stack, on the other hand, is a particular interest.
Its hexagonal outline has a flowing 'waterfall' design which gives it even more storage space in the middle. There aren’t a lot of physical buttons on the center console and instead feature soft-touch units. Leather can be seen all around the cabin, and even features some woodwork, just like in the Harrier. A panoramic sunroof is optional and features something Toyota calls Star Gaze. This neat sunroof features electrochromic glass technology that allows drivers to switch from transparent to frosted modes within one second using the ON/OFF button.
The Venza uses the same engine tech seen under the hood of the Harrier Hybrid. Its 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine is mated to a pair of electric motors at the front and rear. The result is a combined power output of 222 PS and Toyota reckons the Venza can do up to 17 kilometers per liter in mixed city and highway driving conditions. With the electric motors powering the front and rear wheels, the Venza has, effectively, an all-wheel-drive system.
Let's revisit the question we asked earlier: will it be sold here?
We wish it will be, but the reality is that it's on the slim side. It only has two rows of seats and it's smaller than the Fortuner too. Also, there's the matter of Lexus and the next-generation NX might be based on the Venza/Harrier as well, largely negating the need for the latter in the first place. Still, there's always room for another crossover in Toyota's local line-up, and fingers crossed that we get the Venza or Harrier in one way or another.