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2021 Nissan Murano vs. 2021 Toyota Venza: Which Is Better?


Both the 2021 Nissan Murano and the 2021 Toyota Venza make do with a single engine choice. So for the midsize crossover shopper, let’s see which is better.

Quick Facts

  • Toyota Venza returns for 2021 as a hybrid compact crossover.
  • Both offer great standard safety features and a single engine choice with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).
  • Nissan Murano holds a maximum 74 cubic feet of cargo.

2021 Nissan Murano

2021 Nissan MuranoBase price: $33,605 / Read our 2021 Nissan Murano review 

What we like: V6 power; standard safety features; ample passenger space; premium vibe

What we would change: Single engine/transmission choice; big rear blind spots; CVT can drone; resale value; towing limited to 1,500 pounds

Overview: In a segment where a number of midsize crossovers try to cram in three rows, Nissan wisely went with two in the 2021 Murano, and we applaud that choice, because the Murano has plenty of space for rear-seat passengers and useful cargo capacity, with 37 cubic feet available with the seats in place and 74 with them folded. Even better is that the cabin is comfortable and cosseting, with an unexpectedly premium feel. Power comes from Nissan’s excellent V6, which gives the Murano plenty of oomph when needed, although the CVT can drone when pushed hard. Handling is also so-so, with the Murano focusing more on comfort than sportiness through the turns. One thing we don’t like about the Murano is that its high waistline and thick rear pillars lead to poor rear visibility, but fortunately standard safety features include Nissan’s Safety Shield 360. This includes rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot warning, and automatic emergency braking, among other things. Base features also include dual-zone climate control and an 8-inch touchscreen and 6-speaker stereo. Resale values are about average.

What’s new for 2021: With an emphasis on safety, this year the Nissan Murano includes Nissan’s Safety Shield 360 suite of active safety features, as well as new rear emergency braking. Other than that, the Special Edition package replaces the previous SV Premium package, and new paint colors include Scarlet Ember Tintcoat, Magnetic Black Pearl, and Boulder Gray Pearl.

Features and technology: With only one engine and transmission choice, the 2021 Nissan Murano also only includes four trim levels. The base S is well equipped, though, with dual-zone climate control, push-button start, an 8-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, and a 6-speaker AM/FM/CD Bluetooth audio system with both USB and Aux inputs. As mentioned above, Nissan’s Safety Shield 360 comes standard, including rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning and, new for 2021, rear automatic braking. 

The next up is the SV, which adds power front seats, adaptive cruise control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and wood interior trim. Top is the SL, which brings heated leather front and rear seats, 20-inch wheels, a navigation system, a Bose 11-speaker audio system, an around-view camera system, and 20-inch wheels. The top Platinum has semi-aniline leather seats with diamond quilting, a dual-pane moonroof, ventilated front seats, and NissanConnect services, which allows the Murano to be controlled remotely (such as locking it) from your phone.

What does the future hold: Our big complaint about the 2021 Murano is the large rear three-quarter blind spot, so we would like to see that fixed in a redesign, but other than that,  we’d like to see the CVT tuned to be a bit less drone-y. Find a 2021 Nissan Murano for sale 

2021 Toyota Venza

2021 Toyota VenzaBase price: $33,645 / Read our 2021 Toyota Venza review

What we like: Fuel economy; good standard safety features; standard all-wheel drive

What we would change: Single engine choice; no plug-in hybrid; limited cargo space; negligible off-road capability

Overview: When we last saw the Toyota Venza several years ago, it was a boxy wagonlike thing, but in keeping with the times, it returns for 2021 as a hybrid-power midsize crossover, roughly between the smaller RAV4 and the three-row Highlander. Its hybrid drivetrain comes from the RAV4 hybrid, and in this case powers all four wheels. It’s not a thrill ride, but the electric motors provide a good boost of acceleration when necessary. Steering is precise and the brakes are strong. The interior isn’t the most exciting thing, but the seats are comfortable, with 8-way power adjustment and decent space. Cargo space is smaller than average, however, with 28.8 cubic feet behind the rear seats expanding to 55.5 with them folded. Standard features are good, and include Toyota’s Safety Sense 2.0 suite of active safety features, including lane departure warning and a pre-collision system. Also included are an 8.0-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa compatibility. Options include a glass roof that can switch from transparent to frosted at the touch of a button.

What’s new for 2021: Everything, as the 2021 Venza represents a brand-new model.

Features and technology: Keeping things simple, the 2021 Toyota Venza comes with a single engine/transmission choice and in three different trim levels. The base LE trim has an 8-way power driver seat, hands-free liftgate, and an AM/FM sound system with six speakers, an 8.0-inch touchscreen, and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto/Amazon Alexa compatibility. Also included are Toyota’s Safety Sense 2.0 suite of active safety features, all-wheel drive, and a back-up camera.

Next up is the XLE, which adds a 7.0-inch instrument cluster and a Smart Key system, and on top is the Limited, with heated and ventilated front seats and a 12.3-inch touchscreen. Options across the range include the above-mentioned panoramic glass roof, heated and ventilated front seats, a 12-speaker 1,200-watt JBL premium audio system, a surround-view camera, and a 10-inch color head-up display.

What does the future hold: As the Venza is brand-new this year, we don’t expect much to change too radically, with possibly some new paint colors and the addition of new safety tech features. Find a 2021 Toyota Venza for sale 

Murano vs. Venza: Strengths comparison

Murano Benefits: More power; cargo space; more luxurious interior

Venza Benefits: Fuel economy; outward visibility; reputation for quality

2021 Nissan Murano vs. 2021 Toyota Venza: Which is better?

We are big fans of both the RAV4 and the Highlander, and we can definitely agree that the 2021 Toyota Venza is a vast improvement over its predecessor. However, its big selling point here is fuel economy, and unless that’s highest on your list, then we feel the 2021 Nissan Murano is a better choice. It’s nicer inside, it has considerably more cargo space, it’s roomy and comfortable, and it’s more powerful. Find a 2021 Nissan Murano for sale or Find a 2021 Toyota Venza for sale 

2021 Nissan Murano 2021 Toyota Venza
Popular Powertrains
Engine 3.5-liter V6 2.5-liter I4 + electric motor
Horsepower 260 hp @ 6,000 rpm 219 hp @ 5,700 rpm
Torque 240 lb-ft @ 4,400 rpm 163 lb-ft
Transmission CVT CVT
Fuel Economy 24 mpg (20 city/28 highway) 39 mpg (40 city/37 highway)
Also Available n/a n/a
Specs
Basic warranty 3 years/36,000 miles 3 years/36,000 miles
Powertrain Warranty 5 years/60,000 miles 5 years/60,000 miles
NHTSA Overall Safety Rating not rated not rated
Max Seating Capacity 5 5
Wheelbase 111.2 inches 105.9 inches
Overall Length 192.8 inches 186.6 inches
Width 75.4 inches 73.0 inches
Height 67.8 inches 65.9 inches
Turning Diameter 38.7 feet 36.1 feet
Headroom, Front 39.9 inches 38.6 inches
Headroom, Rear 39.8 inches 39.0 inches
Legroom, Front 40.5 inches 40.9 inches
Legroom, Rear 38.7 inches 37.8 inches
Shoulder Room, Front 59.5 inches 57.4 inches
Shoulder Room, Rear 58.9 inches 56.9 inches
EPA Passenger Volume 108.1 cubic feet 98.3 cubic feet
EPA Cargo Volume 37.0 cubic feet 28.8 cubic feet

Doug Lloyd
Doug Lloyd is an author specializing in comparison tests. A veteran of the automotive press world, Doug started at Sports Car International and Vintage Motorsport magazines and has worked at both Porsche Panorama magazine and Edmunds.com. Doug is also a jazz piano player and a composer for television.

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