Review: 2013 Toyota Venza LTD AWD

Monday October 14th, 2013 at 11:1010 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

Hypes: More Useful Than a Swiss Army Knife
Gripes: Would-be Wood, Infuriating Customization Menu

Contrary to popular belief, “Veni, Vidi, Venza” does not mean “I came, I saw, I conquered” but “you asked for it, you got it, Toyota.” The Venza is Toyota’s gift to the family, a composite sedan, station wagon, and minivan offering seating for 5, or up to 70 cubic feet of storage with the back seats folded flat. In top line LTD trim, it lavishes enough nice touches to be confused with a Lexus. But it does so at the un-Lexus like base price of $38,870. Although our test Venza’s bottom line was burdened by an unnecessary $1,819 “Rear Seat Entertainment” system, its all-in total of $42,288 still constitutes a bargain for such wraparound family utility.

Though you could bargain hunt an all-wheel-drive, 181hp, 4 cylinder Venza for just $29,150, the 268hp AWD V-6 is the only one you’ll want to drive. The 3.5 liter engine strikes a good compromise between power and efficiency, returning 25 MPG on highway jaunts, and 21 MPG overall. Option your Venza with the bargain priced $220 Tow Prep Package (available only on the V-6), and you’ll add an engine oil cooler, oversized radiator fan, and heavy duty alternator which yield a tow rating of 3,500 pounds. Because the 6-speed automatic transmission is electronically controlled, you can select a gear range and hold the engine in its powerband without upshifting. If you’ve ever towed a loaded trailer over the Sierras, you’ll know how nice that feature can be.

The 60/40 folding rear seats retract with just the pull of a chairside lever. Doing so opens up a wealth of interior storage room that makes toting unwieldy objects a snap. For example, the rear threshold’s low height facilitates loading and unloading take-alongs like a mountain bike. No need to remove a wheel from the bike, nor hoist and bind it to a cumbersome roof rack. Just compress the springs of the removable privacy screen, stow the tubular screen behind the front seats, and you’ve got unlimited access to the Venza’s copious interior storage locker. Dark tinted privacy glass keeps prying eyes off your cargo.

The LTD’s standard 20 inch alloy rims, fitted with 245/50R20 Michelin Latitude tires, endow this crossover with a decidedly truck-like stance and appearance. The upside of the generous rubber allotment is impressive handling stability generated by unusually large contact patches at all 4 corners. The downside of the Venza’s stance is that it’s almost impossible to see anything to the front, sides or rear when you’re parking. The standard Backup Camera, which displays its video on a 6.1 inch dash screen, helps locate potential casualties to the rear. But the side view mirrors convey so little information about obstacles next to, or in front of the Venza, that you’ll find yourself bouncing off curbs you never saw.

The Venza’s interior could stand some refinement. The multiple bins dotting the console between the front seats are duplicative and cheap looking. Despite investing 30 minutes into reading the owner’s manual, I could never figure out how to stop the driver’s seat from sliding backwards every time I turned the Venza off. There are 2 different sources of menu customization available through dash buttons, with no apparent logic determining which button controls which series of features. Despite all the possibilities I never found the key to deselecting the annoying seat slide. On any Lexus, this is a 5 second deselection process.

In sum, the Venza offers such an array of travel possibilities that it will ping your sweet spot over and over. It’s easy to live with this mega- hauler because it looks like a beefy sedan but behaves like a brutish truck. Charming but butch, the Venza makes a lot of sense.

Toyota Venza LTD AWD

  • Engine: 3.5 liter V-6, DOHC with DUAL VVT-I
  • Horsepower: 268 hp
  • Torque: 246 lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 18 MPG City/25 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $42,288
  • Star Rating: 7.5 out of 10 Stars

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Toyota Halts Sale of 8 Models

Wednesday January 27th, 2010 at 9:11 AM
Posted by: Derek

Toyota logo

Updated Jan. 28

Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc. is telling dealers to suspend sales of eight models, and halting production of those models, after a recall to correct a problem that could cause the accelerator pedal to stick.

The Japanese automaker said the sales suspension includes the following models:

  • 2005-2010 Avalon
  • 2007-2010 Camry
  • 2007-2010 Tundra
  • 2008-2010 Sequoia
  • 2009-2010 Matrix
  • 2009-2010 RAV4
  • 2009-2010 Corolla
  • 2010 Highlander

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The Honda Accord Crosstour's Multiple Personalities

Friday November 6th, 2009 at 9:1111 AM
Posted by: asgruben

2010 Honda Accord CrosstourBy Adrienne Gruben

The 2010 Honda Accord Crosstour is schizo. On the one hand, it is glomming onto the trend that Europe has known forever – 5 door hatches are the most efficient layout, but at the same time, I think the intention was to semi-obscure its hatchiness because looking too much like a wagon is a big Brady Bunch no, no these days—unless you’re a weird sta-wag fetishist. However, isn’t this just the emperor’s new Accord Wagon, with better handling?

I also think Honda was excited by the Crosstour’s hauling capabilities, at least compared to the sedan, but with just 51 cubic feet of cargo space versus the Venza’s 70 cubic feet, it means 1.5 fewer sorority girls will fit back there and that alone might make the Venza more attractive to some, not to mention the fact that the Crosstour goes from 0-60 in just 7.5 seconds, a whopping half-second lower than the Venza. Plus, girls don’t like schizos. Ok, Jennifer Connelly did in “A Beautiful Mind”, but I don’t think she’d be riding in the back of a Honda Crosstour. Or the front for that matter, but I digress. Let’s talk about the basics.

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2009 Toyota Venza Review – We dare you to call it a station wagon

Monday December 15th, 2008 at 6:1212 AM
Posted by: Derek

2009 Toyota Venza
Review and photos by Derek Mau


  • STAR safety system is standard
  • Sharp dressed design doesn’t get lost among the sea of SUVs
  • Voice command options are displayed on the screen so you don’t have to memorize the command prompts
  • You don’t have to buy the expensive navigation system to get the backup camera
  • One-touch auto up/down switches for ALL the windows


  • Electronic Power Steering feels strange. New drivers may need a little time behind the wheel to grow accustomed to the feel.
  • 182 hp 4-cylinder engine has a lot of weight to pull. Even more if you get the AWD version.

Verdict: Dare we call it a station wagon? The Venza is much more than a station wagon or SUV.

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Toyota's Calty Design Research Shows Off The All-New 2009 Venza

Friday August 22nd, 2008 at 6:88 AM
Posted by: Derek

2009 Toyota Venza

Do we really need another crossover vehicle? Well, Toyota seems to think the U.S. market doesn’t have enough good choices. Enter the all-new 2009 Toyota Venza – a stunning combination of style, sport-sedan type of ride and handling, along with the utility of a mid-size SUV. The Venza isn’t quite a stylistic as the BMW X6, nor does it match the X6′s performance numbers. The upside is that you won’t have to take out a third mortgage to afford the Venza.

Since SUVs are passé and the market for large, ostentatious, gas-guzzling urban assault vehicles has fallen out due to high gas prices, can the new breed of crossovers fill the void left open by the SUVs of yesterday? Official news release and a gaggle of photos of the new aspiring sport-crossover from Toyota is after the jump.


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2009 Toyota Venza Points To New Direction for Sporty SUVs

Monday August 18th, 2008 at 12:88 PM
Posted by: Derek

2009 Toyota Venza

Overly ambitious SUVs were the über-cool family transportation choices for the 90′s. Now that we are becoming more socially responsible by choosing right-size vehicles that have a smaller carbon footprint, wagons with the dynamics of a sports sedan and the utility of an SUV are filling the growing demand and are popular choice for young, small families. The difficult decision for young families has always been giving up the sporty lifestyle and trading it in for a lumbering SUV, wagon or minivan. Now there is a new generation of vehicles, such as the VW Jetta Sportwagen, BMW 3-series and 5-series Sport Wagons, and upcoming Audi Q5, which are filling the crossover category with vehicles that emphasize sport over utility. Enter stage right the all-new Toyota Venza. (Video of the all-new Toyota Venza below the jump)


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Toyota Stages World Debut Of All-New Venza At 2008 NAIAS

Friday January 18th, 2008 at 12:11 AM
Posted by: Derek

2009 Toyota Venza

January 14, 2008 – Detroit, MI – Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc., unveiled the all-new 2009 Venza crossover sedan at a press conference here today at the 2008 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). Venza will raise the crossover vehicle to new levels by combining a unique blend of sedan refinement and sport utility vehicle (SUV) functionality.

“The all-new Venza was developed as a vehicle that combines the styling, comfort and fun-to-drive performance elements of a five-passenger sedan with the surprising utility of an SUV,” said Bob Carter, Toyota Division group vice president and general manager. “This winning combination will be ideal for active ‘boomers’ and young couples with small families.” Read the rest of this entry »

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