2010 Toyota Venza Road Test Review

John Birchard - CAP staff
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Beneath that chiseled body beats the heart of a Camry?  Or how about a Highlander?  Both are eminently sensible purchases -- solid, reliable motor vehicles.  But both are about as sexy as flowered wallpaper.  Aware of the problem, Toyota turned their California-based Calty Design folks loose on a Crossover Utility and the Venza is the result. 

Unlike the Camry or Highlander, the Venza carries an in-your-face attitude with its exterior styling, from the aggressive grille through its chunky midsection to a carved-from-a-block-of-steel rear. 

The Venza has the high step-in (206-mm or 8.1-inch ground clearance) and seat height of an SUV without the off-road capability.  In fact, when you get right down to it, it's a tall wagon, but don't tell Toyota I said that. 

The Venza comes in only one trim level.  Choose from either front-wheel drive (FWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD) and a 2.7-litre four-cylinder engine (182 horsepower) or a 3.5-litre V6 (268 horsepower).  The base price is $29,310 for the FWD four-banger.  Add about $1,400 if you choose AWD.  The more powerful 3.5-litre version goes for $30,800 and $32,250 with AWD.  Both engines are hooked to a six-speed automatic transmission. 

The Venza interior is a mixed bag.  The main gauges -- speedo, tach, fuel, temp -- are highly readable and attractive.  The centre console offers several cubbies as well as a sliding armrest that covers a deep bin.  The shifter is mounted low on the centre stack and works just fine there.  The look of the woodgrain trim is notably cheesy.  The cloth upholstery is attractive, but its light gray colour could show stains.  In direct sun, the screen for the nav/sound/HVAC systems completely washes out.  Maybe mounting it at a different angle or putting a hood over it might help. 

I often complain about rear seats in a lot of cars, so it's time to offer praise for a change.  The Venza's back seat is BIG, with lots of legroom and space enough to actually accommodate three average-sized humans.  Not only that, but the seatbacks recline up to 14 degrees.  And one more plus: by pulling a lever on either side of the rear luggage compartment, the rear seatbacks flop forward, more than doubling cargo capacity to 1,985 litres (70.1 cubic feet). 

Visibility to the rear is limited by the narrow rear window, due to the Venza's tapering body.  The optional back-up camera is a must with this car, but if you choose the back-up camera without combining it with a nav system, the screen display is very small (not much bigger than the display on a small digital camera). 

In the performance versus fuel economy department, the V6 propels the AWD Venza from 0-100 mph in around 6.7 seconds, which is not too shabby. The I-4 with FWD is more leisurely in acceleration, but scores fuel economy numbers around 10.0 L/100km in city traffic, 6.5 on the road while the V6 AWD produces around 11.5 L/100km in town, 7.5 on the highway. 

Handling and ride are about what you expect from Toyota: average for the former and pleasant for the latter.  The cabin is quiet. 

Toyota calls the Venza, "The car, optimized."  They refuse such nomenclature as "crossover," "SUV," or the dreaded "station wagon."  Be that as it may, the Venza is rather good-looking in an aggressive sort of way, with more personality than the Highlander can muster.  It's a nice compromise for those sick of driving SUVs, but reluctant to give up the cargo space. 

One thing, though: keep a close tab on the options you choose.  My test V6 was outfitted with almost $9,000 worth of add-ons.  Toyota has a nice package in the Venza, but beware the creeping price.

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Crossover, Toyota, 2010, Venza, $30,000 - $39,999,

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page