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Sibling rivalry: 2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid vs. 2021 Toyota Venza Hybrid

Which hybrid Toyota compact SUV is right for you?

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If you’re in the market for a fuel-sipping compact SUV, Toyota has a pair of siblings buyers should definitely shortlist: the 2021 RAV4 Hybrid and all-new 2021 Venza. Both offer room for up to five passengers across two rows of seats, all-wheel-drive, and gas-electric hybrid powertrains.

Last seen in 2015, the new 2021 Toyota Venza shares a platform and hybrid powertrain with the RAV4 Hybrid. But the all-new, 2nd-generation Venza distinguishes itself with upscale styling inside and out, more standard technology and features, and some options that are not available on the RAV4 at any price.

The RAV4, most recently redesigned in 2019, was Canada’s best-selling SUV in 2020. Unlike the Venza that comes exclusively with a gas-electric powertrain, you can opt for a gas-only RAV4 or the new plug-in electric Prime model with up to 68 kilometres of electric driving range. 

Read on to find out which of these hybrid Toyota compact SUVs is right for you.

 

Price

The 2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid has a starting Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price of $32,950 CDN for the base LE AWD trim. If you want to try and match much of the equipment that comes standard on the Venza, the topline RAV4 Hybrid Limited AWD starts at $43,350 CDN.

The better-equipped 2021 Toyota Venza starts at $38,490 CDN and tops out with the $47,690 CDN Venza Limited.

Winner: 2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

 

Interior 

As the Venza and the RAV4 Hybrid ride on the same platform and share an identical wheelbase dimension, they have a similar exterior footprint, other than the Venza's greater overall length. 

The two crossovers are very similar in terms of interior space, too. The slightly taller and shorter RAV4 offers more front and rear headroom and an additional 243 litres of cargo space behind its rear seats over the Venza's 816-litre capacity. However, the Toyota siblings diverge from there. 

With its better-insulated interior and use of high-quality materials and soft-touch surfaces, the Venza comes off more like something from the Lexus luxury lineup than a mass-market offering. At the same time, the more mainstream RAV4 Hybrid offers more room. 

The Venza comes standard with an 8.0-inch infotainment display and offers a 12.3-inch display as an option. The RAV4 comes standard with a 7.0-inch screen and offers an 8.0-inch screen as an option. 

And in a first for Toyota, the Venza also offers an optional electrochromic glass roof panel that can change the glass's opacity at the touch of a button, plus other optional features like Head-Up Display, Digital and Display Rear View Mirror, a feature you won't find on any RAV4.

In the end, if you want more room, it’s the RAV4. More luxury? Go Venza.

Winner: Tie

 

Performance & Fuel Economy

Both of these hybrid Toyota compact SUVs are very impressive in the powertrain department. Sharing so many nuts and bolts, it's no surprise the RAV4 Hybrid and Venza offer similar performance and fuel economy numbers. 

Each hybrid SUV uses a 2.5-litre 4-cylinder gas engine plus a pair of electric motors generating a combined 219 horsepower and 163 pound-feet of torque (Toyota only publishes the gas engine's torque output), matched to a continuously variable automatic transmission.

Due to the RAV4 Hybrid weighing 65 kilograms less than the 1,745-kilogram Venza, it scores marginally better fuel economy estimates: 5.8 litres per 100 kilometres in the city, 6.3 highway and 6.0 combined; the Venza's estimates are 5.9/6.4/6.1, respectively.

Despite a nearly identical engineering sheet, one difference between these Toyota siblings Canadian drivers can appreciate can be found in the AWD systems. The Venza can send up to 80% of its power to the rear wheels to help prevent front wheel slip, while the system in the RAV4 Hybrid only sends up to 50% of power to the rear wheels.

Winner: Tie


Ride and Handling

On pavement, where the majority of compact SUV buyers spend their time, the Venza excels. Toyota's engineers went to serious lengths to make the Venza a much more comfortable and cosseting machine than the RAV4, with extra sound deadening material in the wheel arches, engine bay, and headliner. The Venza’s steering is precise with good feedback, and Toyota has done an admirable job of blending regenerative and standard braking for a seamless application of stopping power.

Off the road, like a gravel cottage lane or a snowy trail to a ski hill, the RAV4 Hybrid is the better choice, mainly due to its 205-millimetre ground clearance—11 mm better than the Venza.

Winner: 2021 Toyota Venza

 

Safety

Both the 2021 RAV4 and 2021 Toyota Venza come standard with Toyota’s suite of driver assistance features. Known as Toyota Safety Sense, it includes pedestrian detection, automatic high beams, adaptive cruise control, road sign assist, and other features.

Winner: Tie

 

Overall Winner: 2021 Toyota Venza

Objectively, the score between this pair of Toyota hybrid compact SUVs ended up in a tie. But we don’t do ties, here at KBB.ca. 

If a low price, maximum passenger and cargo room , and light off-road capabilities are your main objectives when shopping for your next hybrid compact SUV, the 2021 Toyota RAV4 is an easy pick. 

However, if your wallet is big enough, with more standard and optional features, a more refined interior and on-road driving experience, we’d recommend the new 2021 Toyota Venza.

 

Specs

2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

2021 Toyota Venza

 

Engine

2.5-litre I4 + Electric Motors

2.5-litre I4 + Electric Motors

Horsepower

219 hp @ 5,700 rpm (Combined)

 

219 hp @ 5,700 rpm (Combined)

 

Torque

163 lb-ft @ 3,600-5,200 rpm (Gas only)

163 lb-ft @ 3,600-5,200 rpm (Gas only)

Transmission

Continuously variable automatic

Continuously variable automatic

Fuel Economy

6.0 L/100 km (5.8 city, 6.3 hwy)

6.1 L/100 km (5.9 city, 6.4 hwy)

Warranty

3 years/60,000 km

3 years/60,000 km

Max Seating Capacity

5

5

Curb Weight

1,680 kgs

1,745 kgs

Wheelbase

2,690 mm

2,690 mm

Overall Length

4,600 mm

4,740 mm

Width

1,855 mm

1,855 mm

Height

1,701 mm

1,675 mm

Headroom, Front

992 mm

980 mm

Headroom, Rear

1,015 mm

937/991 mm

Legroom, Front

1,040 mm

1,040 mm

Legroom, Rear

960 mm

960 mm

Cargo Volume, Behind Rear seats

1,059 L

816 L

 

Towing Capacity

794 kg (1,750 lb)

794 kg (1,750 lb)

Ground Clearance

206 mm

 

195 mm

 

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