2023 Toyota Venza XLE Nightshade

The Venza represents a compact hybrid crossover, featuring seating for five passengers and standard all-wheel drive. It competes with vehicles such as Toyota’s RAV4, the Subaru Forester, and the Honda CR-V in the market.

DESIGN

Toyota’s hybrid crossover, the Venza, offers three variations: LE, XLE, and Limited. These models showcase a distinct design that distinguishes them from other Toyota counterparts such as the 4Runner and RAV4, which are recognized for their more angular look. The Venza’s design includes a roofline reminiscent of a coupe and an interior that exudes sophistication, featuring a dash wrapped in high-quality synthetic leather for a premium feel.

In 2023, Toyota introduces the Venza Nightshade Edition, which is based on the XLE trim. The XLE already offers an array of impressive features, including a 12.3-inch Toyota Audio Multimedia touch screen, two USB C ports, a fourth-generation Qi wireless charger, front and rear parking assist with auto braking, a seven-inch multi-information display (MID), and the Smart Key System. It also includes standard Venza LE features like Toyota Safety Sense 2.5, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Automatic High Beams, and rear seat minder.

The Nightshade Edition distinguishes itself with a set of unique exterior colors, such as Celestial Black, Wind Chill Pearl, and Ruby Flare Red – the color of the vehicle we had the chance to test. This edition stands out with its stylish black accents, both on the exterior and interior.

A notable change in the Nightshade Edition is the replacement of all chrome trim elements with sleek black-painted parts. This includes the front grille trim, mirror caps, door handles, shark fin antenna, rear badges, and rocker panels. To further enhance its appearance, buyers can opt for the optional black-painted roof rails.

Chrome details with a smoky appearance enhance the lower sections of both front and rear bumpers. Gloss black paint now coats the standard 19-inch multi-spoke wheels. LED fog lights come as a standard feature on regular XLE trim Venzas, ensuring better forward visibility. For those seeking an open-air experience, there is an optional Star Gaze panoramic roof to consider.

In the Nightshade Edition, the XLE retains its standard interior, featuring an eight-way power driver’s seat adorned with sleek black trim. For enhanced comfort, buyers can opt for heated and ventilated front seats, along with the advanced S-Flow air conditioning system technology.

Specifically targeting occupied seats, the cooling air system is conveniently controlled through the capacitive controls on the 12.3-inch screen. Although the standard eight-speaker sound system is impressive, those seeking a premium audio experience can opt for the optional JBL Premium Audio System.

This upgraded system boasts nine speakers, a rear subwoofer, and a 12-channel 1,200-watt amplifier.

A defining aspect of the Venza is its spacious interior, offering 28.8 cu-ft of cargo room with the seats up and expanding to 55.1 cu-ft when the rear seatbacks are folded down. To safeguard your belongings and maintain privacy, a tonneau cover can be conveniently stored under the cargo area deck.

PERFORMANCE

The Venza stands out from the RAV4 Hybrid by providing a distinctively comfortable and laid-back driving experience, in contrast to the adventurous and rugged feel of the RAV4. While both vehicles share many components and features, the Venza sets itself apart by prioritizing comfort and refinement as its defining characteristics.

Every Venza is equipped with a hybrid system that combines a 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder engine with three electric motors, providing an impressive peak power of 219 horsepower. When driving in EV mode, the Venza moves almost silently, with a seamless transition to the 4-cylinder gas engine during intense acceleration, thanks to the electric motors’ abundant low-end torque, reducing the need for excessive force.

Owners of the Venza Nightshade will find the vehicle’s fuel efficiency to be remarkable, reaching 40 mpg in the city, 37 mpg on the highway, and 39 mpg combined with its 2.5-liter I-4 engine.

Prioritizing comfort, the Venza excels on the road by providing a smooth and relaxing ride. Toyota has dedicated significant effort to create a tranquil cabin, featuring well-padded front seats that contribute to the overall comfort, resulting in effortless long journeys. Achieving a perfect balance in size, the Venza facilitates hassle-free parking and maneuvering.

Moreover, AWD is a standard feature across all Venza models, courtesy of an electric motor positioned on the rear axle, which enhances handling confidence and provides ample grip. Notably, the braking system deserves praise as it avoids the lurching or uneven sensations sometimes experienced in certain hybrid vehicles that utilize regenerative braking for charging purposes.

With a strong focus on safety as a family vehicle, the Venza comes equipped with standard Safety Sense 2.5+. This extensive suite incorporates crucial features such as pre-collision with pedestrian detection, Dynamic radar cruise control, Lane departure alert with steering assist, Lane tracing assist, Road sign assist, and blind spot monitor, instilling a profound sense of security and protection for all occupants.

VERDICT

During our week-long test drive, we had the opportunity to experience the Toyota Venza, priced at $38,930 MSRP, with the total cost amounting to $41,665.

Competition

In the competitive compact crossover segment, the Toyota Venza demonstrates its prowess, particularly when compared to the popular Toyota RAV4.

While sharing a similar structure, the RAV4 distinguishes itself with a more rugged appearance, improved handling, and a strong emphasis on off-road capabilities, positioning it as a tough rival.

Among the noteworthy competitors, the Subaru Forester excels in off-road performance and offers excellent value.

On the other hand, the Chevrolet Blazer shares some design elements with the Venza but leans towards a sportier image, enhancing its appeal in the market.

Both the Honda CR-V and Ford Escape feature hybrid powertrains, yet they are unable to match the Venza’s luxurious appeal, making the Toyota vehicles the clear winners in this comparison.

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