The Toyota Venza rides and handles like a car, but offers the cargo space of an SUV. It's more utilitarian than an ordinary car, yet it's smaller and lower than an SUV. Venza comes with premium equipment and attributes normally associated with SUVs.
The Venza is built on the Camry platform, and made in the same plant in Georgetown, Kentucky. But the Venza is more than an upscale, contemporary rendition of a Camry station wagon. The Venza is more original than that, and more functional, loaded with a mix of highly evolved features and fresh design ideas. Venza compares most closely with the Honda Accord Crosstour.
It's essentially a tall car, with a roomy, cleverly designed interior, that can handle the hauling tasks that make SUVs a popular choice. It's a family car, a good daily runabout that's easy to drive and park. And it's highly useful, for moving people, pets and grocery-getting. We found it spacious and comfortable.
Venza is available with a 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine or a 3.5-liter V6, both backed by a six-speed automatic transmission. It's available in all-wheel-drive (AWD) and front-wheel-drive (FWD) configurations.
The four-cylinder makes 182 horsepower and 182 pound-feet of torque and gets an EPA-estimated 21/29 mpg City/Highway. The V6 is rated at 268 horsepower and 246 pound-feet of torque and is rated at 18/25 mpg with all-wheel drive.
Venza was launched as a 2009, and the only changes for 2010 involve the audio system. 2010 Venza models come with iPod connectivity, a USB port, and Bluetooth.
On the road, the Venza feels like a car. It rides smoothly and quietly and steers easily. We were impressed with its stability on slippery roads, whether equipped with all-wheel drive or not. Although there are some SUV attributes, such as the higher seat height and a high degree of cargo versatility, from the driver's seat you'd swear you were in a four-door sedan.
The 2010 Toyota Venza comes with choice of four-cylinder ($26,275) or V6 ($28,100). All-wheel-drive is available for either ($1450). Four-cylinder models ride on P245/55R19 tires on 19-inch, 10-spoke aluminum wheels; V6 models upgrade to P245/50R20 tires on 20-inch, five-spoke wheels.
Standard equipment includes cloth upholstery; dual-zone automatic climate control with air filter and second-row vents; cruise control; AM/FM audio with XM satellite radio and six speakers; six-disc CD changer with MP3/WMA playback, iPod connectivity, a USB port; Bluetooth; tilt/telescopic adjustable steering wheel with integrated audio controls; dual vanity mirrors; power windows with auto up/down function and jam protection on all four doors; cargo tonneau cover; rear personal overhead lamps; 14-degree rear seat recline; rear spoiler; and one-touch levers to fold the rear seats forward from the cargo area. Also standard are multi-projector-beam headlamps with auto on-off; integrated fog lamps; power outside mirrors; UV reduction glass windshield; privacy glass on two rear side windows and back window; variable intermittent windshield wipers; rear window intermittent wiper; remote keyless entry system; carbon fiber interior trim; overhead console with map lights; center console with sliding cover and armrest; three 12-volt auxiliary power outlets.
Options include navigation system ($2,590), JBL Premium Audio ($1,090), panoramic sunroof with tilt-and-slide forward section ($1,050), and rear-seat DVD entertainment ($1,680).
The Leather Package ($1600) includes leather-trimmed seats, shift knob, and steering wheel with satin-mahogany wood-grain style trim and a four-way power passenger seat. The Security Package ($570) features a backup camera and anti-theft alarm. The Convenience Package ($860) adds a power rear lift gate and Smart Key. The Lighting Package ($815) adds HID headlights and automatic high beams. The Tow Prep Package ($220) includes an engine oil cooler, heavy duty fan, and larger alternator.
Safety features include seven air bags and active headrests (front); Hill-Start Assist Control. Toyota's Star Safety System comes standard and includes Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) and Traction Control (TRAC) systems with a cutoff switch, plus Antilock Brake System (ABS) with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist. A tire-pressure monitor system and child protector rear door locks are standard.