The 2023 Toyota Venza lineup includes a new Nightshade model, based on the Venza XLE trim level. (Toyota)

The 2023 Toyota Venza lineup includes a new Nightshade model, based on the Venza XLE trim level. (Toyota)

2023 Toyota Venza adds Nightshade model with blackout exterior

A darkened grille, wheels, door handles and accents give the new trim level a distinctive look.

Toyota’s mid-size two-row Venza SUV adds a new Nightshade trim level to its 2023 lineup, inserted between the XLE and Limited models in the pricing structure.

Along with the entry-level LE, Venza now offers four trim choices, and every one of them comes standardly equipped with the Pacific Northwest’s popular combo of a hybrid powertrain and all-wheel drive.

Venza’s exterior is styled with flair. The theme carries over into the interior, where high-quality materials and tasteful design dominate. Upscale comfort and convenience features are plentiful. The Venza comes close to Lexus-level caliber.

The new Nightshade model is based on the XLE, dolling it up with blackout exterior trim for a distinctive appearance. Wheels, door handles, grille and other pieces are black. Exterior colors are limited to Celestial Black, Wind Chill Pearl, and Ruby Flare Red.

The Nightshade also offers Star Gaze, Toyota’s name for a panoramic sunroof with electrochromic glass that switches from transparent to frosted modes within one second at the touch of a button. A power sliding solid shade is included for times when complete overhead light blockage is preferred. The fun and trippy Star Gaze roof is a $1,400 option.

The 2023 Toyota Venza XLE includes a 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen perched above the center stack. (Toyota)

The 2023 Toyota Venza XLE includes a 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen perched above the center stack. (Toyota)

For 2023, the XLE (including the Nightshade) gets an infotainment upgrade to a huge 12.3-inch horizontally oriented multimedia touchscreen, the automotive equivalent of a home theater. It’s perched atop the center stack and reaches dramatically higher than the upper dash. Included are a six-speaker audio system, SiriusXM satellite radio, and wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility.

Venza’s four-wheel-drive hybrid system has a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine teamed with three electric motors. The group operates fluidly, delivering a decent 219 horsepower and excellent fuel economy: 40 mpg city, 37 mpg highway, and 39 mpg combined. And it isn’t a fuel snob. Regular-grade gas is fine.

Venza has seating for five, though not in the most expansive of circumstances. Three well-nourished adults in the back seat would be pushing it. Two would do well, but issue-prone folks might still grouse about the legroom. In any case, Toyota’s comprehensive efforts with insulation ensure everyone inside the Venza is sheltered from road, wind, and engine noise.

Pricing for the 2023 Toyota Venza starts at $35,455 including a $1,335 destination charge.

The Toyota Venza two-row mid-size SUV has seating for five. The new Nightshade model is shown here. (Toyota)

The Toyota Venza two-row mid-size SUV has seating for five. The new Nightshade model is shown here. (Toyota)


Base price, including destination charge: $40,790

Price as driven: $42,190

Mary Lowry is a member of the Motor Press Guild and a member and past president of the Northwest Automotive Press Association. She lives in Snohomish County. Vehicles are provided by automotive manufacturers as a one-week loan for evaluation purposes only. Manufacturers do not control content of the reviews.

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