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Is the 2021 Toyota Venza Just a 2021 Lexus RX For Toyota Money?

As SUVs become more expensive and equipped, the line between mainstream and luxury models blurs. Nowadays, almost every SUV offers sophistication and comfort, except for Toyota’s off-road lineup, which is still catching up. However, there is a change coming. With this in mind, let’s delve into the question: how closely does the fully loaded Toyota Venza Limited AWD resemble the 2021 Lexus RX?

Is the 2021 Lexus RX better than the 2021 Toyota Venza?

Let’s start by comparing the costs. The fully loaded Venza is priced at $43,100, while the base-model Lexus RX starts at $45,170 and reaches up to $57,210. The price discrepancy begs the question: why is the Lexus so much more expensive?

To begin with, the 2021 Lexus RX has scored well overall on Consumer Reports. The most comparable model to the Venza is the Lexus RX 450H, which features a hybrid powertrain consisting of a 3.5-liter V6 engine and an electric motor. Although it has more power than the Venza, it is not a particularly quick car. However, quickness isn’t the primary objective for these vehicles. Both the RX and Venza impressively achieve high fuel efficiency, with the RX offering 29 mpg and the Venza boasting an impressive 30 mpg.

On the other hand, the Venza earns a close second on Consumer Reports. Powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine coupled with an electric motor that recharges from coasting and regenerative braking, the Venza’s smaller engine does not hinder its performance significantly. It slightly trails the RX with a 0-60 mph time of 7.5 seconds. Additionally, the Venza provides slightly better fuel efficiency.

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Which hybrid performs better on twisty roads?

At this point, the upscale Lexus sets itself apart in the market. Consumer Reports mentions that the Lexus exhibits clumsiness and significant body lean. The steering lacks feedback and feels mushy. When the Lexus was tested on the track, it became evident that it was far outside its comfort zone. Although it never felt unsafe, it reached its cornering limits quite early.

While I haven’t had the opportunity to drive the Lexus, I must admit that the Venza surprised me with its nimbleness and stability in the corners of the Blue Ridge Mountains. However, like the Lexus, the Venza’s steering suffered from a lack of feedback and felt somewhat mushy. Despite Consumer Reports noting excessive body roll, I didn’t experience more than I expected. It exhibited some motion, but I still felt confident taking corners.

The 2021 Lexus RX outshines the 2021 Toyota Venza in terms of interior and ride comfort

What the Lexus lacks in handling, it compensates for with a smooth ride and soft suspension. The RX glides over road imperfections effortlessly, producing minimal noise. The ride is tranquil and peaceful, even at highway speeds. The interior fit and finish follow the same theme, with soft and plush materials used intentionally. Higher trim levels indulge drivers with wood and metal accents, luxurious soft leather, and decorative stitching. This is true luxury, not just an attempt at it.

2021 Lexus RX | Lexus

The Toyota Venza doesn’t offer a harsh ride, but it may surprise you with a bit more jostling when encountering potholes compared to what you would expect from a vehicle that aims for luxury. The ride remains relatively quiet, but the 2.5-liter engine can produce some rasping noise when under power. However, at lower speeds, the subtle whir of the electric motor creates a peaceful ambiance.

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The interior of the Venza appears well-built, featuring plenty of soft surfaces and stylish two-tone leatherette. The large infotainment screen, Star Gaze roof with Frost Control, and vented seats grab your attention, but as you delve deeper, the fanciness starts to fade away. It feels like the Venza is trying to be upscale, but it falls short of truly embodying luxury.

The final verdict

Ultimately, the key difference between these two vehicles lies in how they feel. One feels upscale, whereas the other is genuinely upscale. The Lexus undoubtedly offers a higher level of luxury, and you must be prepared to pay for that added refinement. On the other hand, the Toyota Venza, while not as exciting, manages to scratch that itch for a Lexus at a more affordable price.

So, if you’re looking to save a few thousand dollars but still desire a taste of the Lexus experience, the Toyota Venza might just be the perfect choice for you.

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