After six years of hiatus, the Toyota Venza is back in the market, this time more competitive as ever because it now a part of the new-generation Toyota Hybrid System. If you are searching for your first car or “other” car, consider this crossover utility vehicle that is nimble, easy to handle, gives you the right height and space, environment friendly and, most importantly, saves you tons of gas money.
“Toyota hybrid models Prius and Prius C are popular with Saipan’s taxi industry because of their superior gas mileage. Now the Venza combines energy efficiency with an elevated fit and finish in a family vehicle,” said AK Saipan vice president and general manager Joel Lesh. “We are proud to support Toyota with the Venza and other hybrid models in the Saipan market. We share Toyota’s vision toward sustainable mobility on the road and beyond.”
According to Atkins Kroll, Inc. sales manager Kevin Barnes, now is the best time for people for consider getting a Toyota Venza hybrid vehicle and the target market is across the board. “With the recent increase in gas prices, a hybrid vehicle will help unburden the load of spending a lot of money on gas. …I have extreme confidence in the Toyota Venza. …The market demographics of this vehicle ranges from young to old individuals or couples because it does a little bit of everything for everybody,” he said.
Toyota Venza has a mileage of 39 miles per gallon for city driving like here on Saipan. Being a hybrid, it is gas-powered and then, at a certain speed, the electric battery will kick in and switch to electric. While the gas power is in use, it charges the electric battery and when the electric battery takes over, it is full. “It is akin to a ‘symbiotic relationship,’ where one feeds the other so one can power up and one can rest,” Barnes added.
The Toyota Venza combines a high-efficiency 2.5-liter DOHC (dual overhead camshaft) four-cylinder engine with three electric motors in a highly compact system. The gas engine employs a Variable Valve Timing-intelligent system that improves performance and fuel economy. For improved engine efficiency, a variable cooling system (electric water pump and electric thermostat) is in place.
Test driving the Toyota Venza around the island was a delight. Since the Venza is a “crossover utility vehicle,” it gives you the comfort of a sedan with a height of a pickup truck and going from Atkins Kroll in San Jose through the backroad was smooth and steady.
On its own, the ‘Toyota Safety Sense (TSS 2.0) is at work as soon as you turn on the engine. I like the Lane Tracing Assist, which tells you the size of the road, the vehicle in front of you, and keeps you centered in your lane.
I was impressed with the Road Sign Assist feature, which tells you the speed limit on that particular road in case you miss the sign on the road. A light in the monitor in front will tell you how slow or fast you can go. From San Jose where the speed limit is 35 mph, it switched to 45 mph when I entered Monsignor Deleon Guerrero Road.
Other TSS features include pre-collision system with daytime/low-light vehicle; a pedestrian detection and daytime bicyclist detection that offers automatic braking should the driver not react in time in an emergency; and a blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert (standard on all grades). Other Venza models—XLE and Limited—also have front and rear parking assist with automated braking (PA w/AB), full-speed range dynamic radar cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assist, and automatic high beams.
The Toyota Venza is also equipped with eight airbags, including side curtain airbags. Toyota’s Star Safety System includes Enhanced Vehicle Stability Control, Traction Control, Electronic Brake-force Distribution, Brake Assist, Anti-lock Braking System, and Smart Stop Technology, giving you an invisible assistant driver whenever on the road.
Visibility-enhancing technology surrounds the driver. The Venza LE grade features a 4.2-inch color MID, while the XLE and Limited trims have a 7-inch color MID. A Hybrid System Indicator shows the driver system output and regeneration status to encourage eco-driving habits in either display. As used on other Toyota hybrid models, the display monitor suggests the optimal acceleration amount for eco-driving and provides a game-like scoring function for the driver.
Going up the hill on Monsignor Deleon Guerrero Road, I challenged Toyota Venza’s responsiveness and the Venza’s hybrid system optimizes electric motor assistance and gas engine without running at high revs, making the uphill climb effortless.
It won’t be a true test drive if I didn’t try driving on dirt roads where you speed up and then slow down for bumps and holes and the Venza’s hybrid system enhances ride comfort by finely controlling the drive torque to suppress pitch under acceleration and deceleration. From Navy Hill down to Puerto Rico, the Toyota Venza’s power handled the downhill drive very well and its torque did not fall short.
The inside is spacious, making for a comfortable drive. Cupholders can accommodate large drink sizes, while the center stack tray can handle the large iPhone models. Door bottle holders can take 24-oz bottles. Venza offers 28.8 cubic ft. of carrying space behind the second row and owners can store the standard tonneau cover in the deck board’s storage space when not in use. The exterior is sleek and has edges at right angles—not too soft or tough, making the Toyota Venza appeal to any age group and looks game for any adventure.
As for maintenance, Barnes said that it will not be an issue with the Toyota Venza Hybrid system. “Our ability to give service gets better and better as each year goes by. We will see less and less maintenance just because Toyota continues to improve and develop its hybrid technology and it has come a long way,” he said. “Toyota commercial hybrid vehicles, including the Toyota Venza, will continue to grow as it is aimed at resolving environmental issues and would benefit anyone that would like to spend less money on gas. …This is ultimately part of the company’s new sustainable development goals by 2030.”