Practicality before beauty.
The Venza is, in essence, a crossover of a crossover. The idea, in Toyota’s words, is to combine “the value and reliability of a Camry, the comfort and upscale refinement of an Avalon, and the utility and functionality of a Highlander.” 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. A 2013 face-lift has cleaned up the busy, in-your-face grille, at least. If you can get beyond the styling, the Venza does offer carlike agility and some SUV functionality, but we’re not entirely satisfied with either. Its 268-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 performs the same way it does in Toyota’s other vehicles, providing smooth, relatively economical motivation. You can get a Venza with a four-cylinder engine for about $2000 less, but we’d recommend saving money elsewhere, especially since the four-cylinder offers only a marginal fuel-economy advantage. A power-operated tilting-and-sliding panoramic sunroof is optional, as is a backup camera. The XLE and the Limited get Toyota’s Entune touch-screen infotainment system, and technological niceties like iPod connectivity and Bluetooth are standard across the line. V-6-powered Venzas sport standard twenty-inch wheels, proving that you don’t have to buy a sports car or a big SUV to roll like a late-’90s rapper.
new for 2013
The Venza receives a slightly more becoming grille for 2013. Inside, a touch-screen radio display is now standard, and Toyota’s Entune infotainment system is standard on XLE and Limited models and available on the LE.
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.
Drives like a car
Crossover cargo capacity
Drives like a boring car
Base Price Range: $28,510–$39,680
DRIVE: Front-wheel, 4-wheel
TRIM LEVELS: LE, XLE, Limited
BODY STYLE: SUV/crossover, 5-passenger
ENGINES: 2.7L I-4, 181 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