Road Test: 2023 Toyota Venza Limited

The previous generation of the Toyota Venza, which was discontinued and recently re-introduced, never really impressed me either with its looks or how it drove.

But the reborn Toyota Venza has completely flipped the script on me.

2023 Toyota Venza Limited
2023 Toyota Venza Limited

Offered now only as a hybrid model, the five-seater has a much more elevated design, nice cabin, and a rather enjoyable driving experience.

This new version has been on sale for a few years now, but I recently got behind the wheel of a 2023 model. It is offered in three trims: LE, XLE and the Limited we tested.

The starting price for the LE is $40,050, while the Blueprint-coloured ride I drove was priced at 52,913.20.

2023 Toyota Venza Limited

In Limited trim, it comes standard with a 12.3-inch multi-information display, eight-way power adjustable front-row passenger seat, head-up display, digital display rear view mirror, the Bird’s Eye View Camera with rear camera washer, Star Gaze fixed panoramic glass roof with frost control, illuminated front scuff plate, and rain sensing wipers.

2023 Toyota Venza Limited

Powertrain: There is but one powertrain option on the Venza, and thankfully it’s a decent hybrid setup.

It features a 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine with Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive, which is mated to an ECVT gearbox. The setup is good and delivers the power when needed with no fuss.

Power numbers for the all-wheel drive Venza are okay at 219 horsepower and 163 pound-feet of torque.

2023 Toyota Venza Limited

I was able to come pretty close to the estimated fuel economy numbers for the Venza, which is rated at 6.1 litres per 100 kilometres. My average was 6.4 L/100 km, which is not bad at all.

Exterior:  I found the 2023 Venza to be a nicely styled vehicle – and it certainly drew in some eyeballs, with at least one passer by commenting on how much better this looked than the previous Venza.

He is not wrong.

The model now has some pretty nice lines and a sculpted body, featuring a tapered roofline. The rising belt line of the Venza draws the eyes toward the back and the thin wraparound taillights.

2023 Toyota Venza Limited

Up front, it has LED headlights and a full-width LED light bar embedded in the grille. The large black lower portion of the grille is perhaps something I would give a second thought to, though.

The 19-inch alloy wheels are ok, but I feel there is room to spice things up a little bit on that front as well.

Interior:  The Venza cabin is quite spacious and comfortable. It also feels airy thanks to the light gray materials throughout, which also elevate the interior’s overall feel in my opinion.

It is also awash with natural light thanks to the large Star Gaze fixed panoramic glass roof.

2023 Toyota Venza Limited

I quite liked the layout of the controls and screen in the dash, with neatly organized buttons under the central screen. Speaking of the screen, there are only a few physical buttons with everything else being controlled through the touchscreen.

The seating, covered in Softex, is comfortable and for 2023, the Venza now offers an eight-way power adjustable front row passenger’s seat as well as the driver’s seat. Heated seats are standard on all Venza models, while the top two trims also feature ventilated seats.

Rear passengers have a generous amount of legroom available to them. The cargo space is also a good size and features a tonneau cover to keep items out of view.

2023 Toyota Venza Limited

Infotainment: The Limited trim comes with an upgraded 12.3-inch screen for the infotainment system.

For 2023, the Venza is equipped with an all-new technology package that incorporates wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay into a new Toyota Multimedia system interface.  The new setup should be familiar to anyone with a smartphone, with many of the same gestures being used to control functionality of the system.

The Limited trim also features an upgraded JBL audio system with nine speakers.

2023 Toyota Venza Limited

Overall, I appreciated the user friendliness of the infotainment system.

Drive: The Venza is a competent city driver and also feels confident on the highway. While the power numbers might not inspire much in the way of driving excitement, the overall experience behind the wheel is more than satisfactory.

The all-wheel drive system on the Venza defaults all power to the front wheels, but can move up to 80 per cent of power to the rear wheels when needed thanks to a dedicated rear-mounted electric motor.

Toyota says this helps the Venza benefit from improved handling and stability when accelerating and taking corners.

2023 Toyota Venza Limited

While I never really pushed the Venza hard into any corners, the steering response was good and the overall feel of the ride for passengers was good.

Conclusion: The Venza has come a long way from the last generation and the 2023 model is much improved. It does face off in a category that seems to have new entrants almost yearly competing for market share, so it will have its work cut out for it to carve out some of that despite all the improvements.

2023 Toyota Venza Limited
Price as tested: $52,913.20
Freight: $1,930.00
Configuration: Front engine/All-wheel drive
Engine/transmission: 2.5-litre 4-cylinder with hybrid synergy drive/ ECVT
Power/torque: 219 horsepower/ 163 lb-ft of torque
Fuel (capacity): Regular (55 L)
Combined fuel economy ratings (L/100 km): 6.1 L/100 km
Observed fuel economy (L/100 km): 6.4 L/100 km
Warranties: 3-years/60,000 km (basic)
Competitors: Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Tucson, Lexus NX, Toyota Rav4
Website: Toyota Canada

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