The Venza, like many new-age crossovers, makes a lot of sense on paper but leaves us scratching our heads trying to figure out its real-world advantages. Toyota says the Venza caters to drivers who want "the value and reliability of a Camry, the comfort and upscale refinement of an Avalon, and the utility and functionality of a Highlander" in one stylish, sporty package. To our eyes, the attempt to combine all these traits results in a rather awkwardly styled Camry wagon with high sills and a jacked-up ride height. Nevertheless, the Venza offers carlike agility and some SUV functionality. Its 268-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 performs the same way it does in Toyota's other vehicles, providing smooth, relatively economical motivation. There's a four-cylinder for about $2000 less, but we'd recommend saving money elsewhere, especially since the four offers only a marginal fuel economy advantage. A power-operated tilting-and-sliding panoramic sunroof is optional, as are a thirteen-speaker JBL sound system and a backup camera. The Venza also has the technological niceties families expect these days, including standard iPod connectivity and Bluetooth. V-6-powered Venzas sport standard twenty-inch wheels (a Toyota first), proving that you don't have to buy a sports car or a big SUV to roll like a late-'90s rapper.
Drive: Front-wheel, 4-wheel
Trim levels: LE, XLE, Limited
Body style: SUV/crossover, 5-passenger
Engines: 2.7L I-4, 182 hp, 182 lb-ft
3.5L V-6, 268 hp, 246 lb-ft
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Passenger volume: 108.0 cu ft
CApacities: Towing 1000-3500 lb; cargo (rear seats up/down) 34.4/70.1 cu ft
The Venza carries over unchanged for 2012 save for new trim-level designations.
Front, side, side curtain, and driver's knee air bags; ABS; traction and stability control; and a tire-pressure monitoring system are standard. A backup camera is optional.
EPA Fuel Economy
All: 18-19 mpg city/25-26 mpg highway
- Drives like a car
- Crossover cargo capacity
- Smooth powertrain
You Won't Like
- Not very exciting to drive
- Frumpy styling
Strong versatility, weak styling.
If You Like This Vehicle
- Ford Edge
- Honda Crosstour
- Nissan Murano
- Subaru Outback