2011 Toyota Venza

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Flash Drive: 2009 Toyota Venza

This 2009 review is representative of model years 2009 to 2014.
By Staff of MSN Autos

While Toyota seems to have a car for every segment of the market, apparently there was still space for one more. The Venza is a crossover that leans more toward being a station wagon than an SUV. Even so, it features a wide, spacious interior with plenty of room for rear-seat passengers and cargo. The vehicle's low roof might impede the entry of some larger items you want to haul, however. Quality materials in and out give this compact ute an up-level feel. Plus, there is plenty of power on tap, but you need a heavy foot to find it — I thought there was a 4-cylinder engine under the hood until I pressed down hard on the go pedal resulting in impressive acceleration. Handling is reasonable in most situations. The vehicle's 2-ton curb weight becomes quite noticeable when cornering. Overall, the Venza is a nice entry, but not necessarily a standout in a crowded crossover market. – Perry Stern

The new Venza reminds me a lot of the Lexus RX350. It has similar dimensions, a similar-powered motor and similar towing capability. However, the new Venza gets better gas mileage and is more affordable. Yes, you give up some prestige by not owning a Lexus. However, the Venza provides great value in the crossover segment. The exterior is modern and sleek, but I did not like the supersized Toyota logo on the front grille. Like the Lexus, you will not be disappointed with the attractive interior, which feels roomier than the Lexus. The trunk is spacious, and with the rear seats folded down, stowing sporting gear like skis or bikes is easy. The ride in the Venza is smooth, and the engine delivers 23 mpg in mixed driving. Priced in the low $30,000 range, the Venza is a great example of more for less. – Joe Chulick

Essentially a Camry wagon dressed up to look somewhat like an SUV, the Venza does everything you need from a family vehicle, but with little engagement or emotion. Big wheels and tires and a high seating position give the driver a good view of the road to the front, but the sloping roofline, high beltline and narrow side windows make it difficult to see out the rear. The backup camera screen is so small that it doesn't help a lot. The 3.5-liter V6 engine delivers plenty of power combined with a 6-speed automatic transmission, but it takes some extra effort with the throttle pedal to get all the horsepower. City fuel economy is close to 20 mpg — good, but not stellar. The interior is thoughtfully laid out and the materials give a quality feel. Bottom line, this vehicle does everything well, but will leave driving enthusiasts a little flat. – Mike Meredith

I loved the Toyota Venza! It's spacious, steers well, and accelerates briskly enough for a family car, looks great and gets reasonable fuel economy. To my eyes, it looks like a Toyota Camry station wagon, but it is actually based on the Toyota Avalon, which explains the 20-inch wheels needed to maintain the right sense of scale. Those big wheels can make the Venza feel a little strange when making sharp turns, as it feels big. Yet it also feels nimble, in a weird kind of way. Inside, it's a straightforward Toyota family car, with some nice little touches like the easily folding rear seats, which invite you to overlook the fact they don't fold flat. Overall, having recently stepped out of the truly great Ford Flex, I found the Venza just a tiny bit disappointing, but then "as tested" the Venza was about $10,000 less. In spite of the great competition in this segment, the Venza is very good car that lives up to the high expectations we all have for a Toyota Camry wagon. – Paul Hagger

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BB01 - 7/29/2014 10:39:58 PM