A road trip is only as successful as the car you’re driving.
A successful road trip is dependent on a few things, like ensuring everyone is entertained and the perfect route is mapped out. However, one of the most important is the vehicle that’s taking you there. So what makes the best road trip car? It has to be comfortable, have options for all passengers and if you have to stop every hour for gas, it’s cutting into your vacation time. We took the 2021 Toyota Venza Limited on a recent 88-mile family road trip to LEGOLAND New York and it proved to be a safe and fuel-efficient option, for both around town and longer drives.
Hybrid is standard, for the win.
For 2021, Toyota released the Venza with a standard hybrid powertrain and a newly designed gorgeous sporty-looking body. Honestly, if you asked me about a Venza 6 years ago, I would have dismissed it because it screamed “mom car,” and even though I’m a mom, that isn’t something that I want my car to reflect. Therefore, back then, this 4-door AWD crossover just wasn’t my cup of tea when it came to looks. Fast forward and the elegant look and feel of the 2021 Toyota Venza is so me, from its gorgeous styling to the money-saving hybrid engine. It’s the car made for families just like mine, especially those who take a lot of road trips. We were happy to put it to the test.
A Must for the Long Haul: The Best Standard Technology
The 2021 Toyota Venza Limited has a lot to offer when it comes to technology that assists you on a road trip. These features are what we loved best during our trip to Legoland:
- Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 – pre-collision system with pedestrian detection: This is great in unfamiliar parking lots and new places;
- Blind spot monitor with front and rear parking assist with automated braking: this one is great on the highway of course, but it also will help to apply the brakes if the system senses that you’re about to hit something;
- Lane departure alert with steering assist: This may be the most relaxing feature for long-haul drivers. Just set the cruise control and lane departure assist helps to keep you in your lane so you can relax your hands and focus on the road and traffic;
- Lane tracing assist: this keeps you centered in your lane and it’s great when other drivers are not so centered, the road curves or simply, giving you the comfort of keeping your distance from other cars on the highway;
- Full-speed range adaptive cruise control: We’ve come to love ACC and now, when traffic comes to a halt on the highway, so does the car; when traffic resumes, so does the car;
- Road sign assist: Another great road trip feature, it reads the road signs and lets you know when the speed limit changes, when approaching a stop sign and more. It’s so helpful when you’re driving unfamiliar roads (or, even familiar ones).
Passenger Comfort Matters on the Road
The best road trip vehicle is one that helps the driver and passengers stay comfortable. The Venza Limited model that we test drove has features that ensure this. The head-up display (HUD) kept my eyes are always where they needed to be: on the road. The 12.3” color touch screen offered uncluttered visualization of our current music selection, destination, climate control, and more. I love that I was able to hook my phone up to use Apple CarPlay. No iPhone? No worries, it’s also equipped with Android Auto.
We headed up to Goshen, New York on one of the hottest days of the year. It was nearly 90 degrees, and the UV index was at 9. Cabin comforts like dual climate control meant none of us had to fuss over who is too hot or too cool; we were able to adjust the temps to suit our needs. My husband and I were a bit spoiled with our heated and ventilated seats, which are available for front passengers only (sorry, kids).
But this may be the most impressive thing: The Venza has a sun roof that can switch from frosted to clear glass with the push of a button. It can block out the sun’s brightness and harmful UV rays. If you have little ones, you’ll love it too. Why? This panoramic roof This can come in handy when on the road during your little ones’ nap times. The panoramic sunroof is in the top favorite features in the Venza.
Lots of charging options keep everyone happy
My 10-year-old is obsessed with playing Roblox, so she brought along her iPad to keep herself entertained during the drive. Did I mention it was a surprise trip? Yeah, she didn’t know where we were going. So her having her iPad helped prevent her from asking us “Where are we going?” a thousand times. Thankfully, the Venza is equipped with 4 USB charge ports (two 1.5 AMP front, two 2.1 AMP rear), which meant I didn’t have to worry about her iPad dying. And we didn’t have to fight over whose device can charge first.
In addition to the USB charge ports, I could charge my phone wirelessly using the Qi-compatible wireless smartphone charger. It’s pretty cool! I love when cars have these. It’s great for the times you forget your charging cord or when the USB ports are occupied.
Great space for 4, but not as much for 5
Speaking of little ones — the rear seat was great for my 10 year old; she was comfortable and had lots of leg room. And, it was fine for the baby’s car seat, which was easy enough to install and didn’t impact the front passenger seat. But when I had to sit in the backseat for part of our trip back home – because the baby just wouldn’t have it any other way– it was tight. I was a bit uncomfortable sitting in the middle seat next to an all-in-one car seat. For reference, I am 5′ 3″, and my knees nearly hit the rear console. However, when sitting in the rear passenger outboard seats, I had room.
What We Loved
- Sporty body
- Fuel efficiency
- Live view digital mirror
- Panoramic sunroof
- Head-up display
- Multiple charging options for the driver and passengers
- Integrated backup camera with projected path and backup camera washer and dynamic gridlines
- Bird’s Eye View Camera with Perimeter Scan; overhead 360-degree view in low-speed Drive and Reverse, and curb view
- LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) – Includes lower anchors on outboard rear seats and tether anchors on all rear seats – easily accessible
- SofTex seats are easy to clean
Considering the Toyota Venza? What you should know
The 2021 Toyota Venza uses a 2.5-liter four-cylinder gas engine and two electric motors (one dedicated to charging) to power the ECVT engine. Although it has a sporty look, there’s only 219 horsepower under the hood.
We drove the premium model with an MSRP of $43,100, which is $3,300 more than the Venza LE (base model). This upgrade includes:
- Advance technology package – $725
- Head-up display
- Hybrid system indicators
- Rain-sSensing variable intermittent windshield wipers
- Toyota care complimentary maintenance plan for 2 years/25,000 miles
- Star Gaze fixed panoramic roof – $1,400
Knowing when you’re expected to come out of pocket for maintenance and repairs is one of the most important factors when purchasing a vehicle. It’s impressive that the Toyota Venza offers:
- Toyota care complimentary maintenance plan for 2 years/25,000
- Basic limited warranty – 3 years/36,000 miles; powertrain limited warranty – 5 years/60,000 miles
- Hybrid battery warranty – 10 years/150,000 miles
The 2021 Toyota Venza is For You If…
The Toyota Venza is the perfect crossover hybrid vehicle for you if you are someone who is looking for an affordable vehicle that looks sporty and has a luxury feel. I suspect Toyota Venza drivers love new technology and would prefer to not have to pay more for it. They like nice things but are budget conscious and always on the road. This fuel-efficient hybrid is perfect for this type of driver. Whether they’re in their single in their mid-’20s or young parents with one to two children.
With 176 miles driven during this road trip, we barely used a half tank of gas. That’s impressive. The Venza boasts an average of 40 city/37 highway/ 39 combined mpg. This fuel efficiency makes it an ideal choice for long drives.
And with lots of interior comforts and luxuries, the Venza was perfect for a surprise (or not…) trip upstate.
Disclosure: Toyota provided me with the Venza to test for my review. All opinions are my own.