By KBB.com Editors
Call it a crossover or even a Camry wagon, but just don't call it nothing new. The 2009 Toyota Venza sits squarely in-between the automaker's best-selling Camry Sedan and Highlander SUV, borrowing elements from both. The result is a vehicle that has plenty of room for five, is easy to get in and out of, has respectable fuel economy and possesses the ground clearance of a much taller vehicle. While the Venza isn't the first – nor will it be the last – car to blur the lines between segments, it certainly offers a well-rounded package at a great price that would suit most people's needs. In a growing and increasingly popular vehicle landscape that includes the Nissan Murano, Ford Edge and Mazda CX-7, the Venza shines with a healthy roster of standard equipment, a competitive price, and Toyota's reputation for quality and stellar resale value.
If you're a fan of the Camry but want a more commanding view of the road, the Venza deserves your attention. Perhaps even more importantly, the low step- and load-in heights help to make getting people and stuff in and out of the car a more pleasant – and back-friendly – experience.
The 2009 Toyota Venza is a vehicle for those who want a little more utility than a sedan can offer, but don't need the abilities of a full-blown SUV. Throw in a great resale value and competitive pricing, and the Venza is all the more enticing.
Driving Impressions On city and highway roads, the Venza performed much as we expected it to: not quite sedan soft, but not quite SUV harsh, either. The attention-getting 19- and 20-inch wheels,...as expected, add some noticeable road feel and road noise, but overall the vehicle is a smooth operator, and the new in-line 4 traversed some rather steep hills without too much gear searching or audible strain. Although some sportier driving made it apparent that the Venza is not meant to be thrown around curves, we think that most buyers will be perfectly pleased with the way theirs handles around-town jaunts. Driving dynamics aside, we spent some time in both rows of seats and found them all to be comfortable and spacious enough to accommodate a vehicle full of adults or older children, so much so that we'd never object to spending a long road trip in the second row.
Integrated Sliding Center Console
This unit is comprised of a set of cupholders and a padded arm rest that slide independent of each other, opening up 14.7 liters worth of storage space. This space also hides the auxiliary input jack cable, which can be left in the console or fed into an mp3/phone holder situated in the center stack.
Low Step-in Height
For those who have more difficulty than most getting in and out of a vehicle, having a low step-in height certainly makes things look a little more gracious.
Spacious is certainly the word that comes to mind when thinking about the Venza's interior. With only two rows of seating, Toyota was able to offer an impressive 70.1 cubic feet of cargo space in the rear. Up front, a sliding center console makes storing things a breeze; simply move the sliding cupholders back, and access to a large storage space that can accommodate a purse or several portable electronics opens up. An auxiliary input jack also lives in this space, and the cord for it can be snaked up to feed into an mp3/phone holder right on the center stack for easy access.Exterior
While there are glimpses here and there of the Camry-esque styling that so many Americans love, the 2009 Toyota Venza is definitely more dramatic in its styling. The large, wraparound grille and standard 19- or 20-inch wheels give the vehicle a solid, bold look, while the 8.1-inch ground clearance (the same as on the Highlander) gives drivers a little more confidence on the occasional unkempt road. Despite the Venza's high seating position, it has a low step-in height, making it easier to maneuver people and stuff in and out of the vehicle, a plus for those who often take more than themselves for a trip around town.
The 2009 Toyota Venza is offered in one well-equipped trim. Inside, standard equipment worth mentioning includes audio, climate and cruise controls on the steering wheel, a 3.5-inch multi-function display, dual zone automatic climate control, a sliding center console with mp3 holder, tonneau cover, auxiliary input jack, and six-disc in-dash CD changer with integrated satellite radio and six speakers. Outside, integrated fog lights, a chrome exhaust, color-keyed spoiler and 19-inch (20-inch on the V6) wheels can be seen. To keep all occupants safe and sound, seven airbags, stability/traction control and anti-lock brakes are standard fare.
The Venza's numerous options are available regardless of engine choice or drive configuration. While most are packaged together, the most noteworthy include leather seating surfaces, push button start, backup camera, HID headlamps with Automatic High Beams and a power hatch. Those who like to feel the sun on their shoulders can opt for the panoramic moonroof, while those who enjoy listening to music may enjoy the JBL Synthesis surround sound system with six-disc in-dash CD changer, Bluetooth streaming audio capability, satellite radio and 13 speakers. This system is also available with a voice-activated touch-screen DVD nav system, although only with a four-disc CD changer.
Powering the Venza is either an all-new 182-hp 2.7-liter in-line four cylinder or a 268-hp 3.5-liter V6, also used in the Camry and Highlander. Both engines come with standard six-speed automatic transmissions that offer uphill/downhill shift logic to minimize gear hunting. Those who do more highway driving should opt for the in-line 4; rated at 29 mpg in FWD guise, this engine is the more financially sensible choice. However, if having AWD would better suit your commute and weather needs, you'll be happy to know that choosing this system will only penalize you by I mpg with either powertrain choice.
2.7-liter in-line 4
182 horsepower @ 5800 rpm
182 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/29 (FWD), 20/28 (AWD)
268 horsepower @ 6200 rpm
246 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4700 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/26 (FWD), 18/25 (AWD)
By 5 Cousins on Thursday, October 23, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 25,700overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Reliable, easy access, comfortable ride"
Cons: "Gas mileage & sight lines need improvement"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I love the easy access getting into & out of my Venza & how comfortable it is to ride in. It has plenty of room for passengers front & back. Putting items in & taking them out of the hatch is easy, too. It performs very well, has a lot of pickup even for a 4 cylinder & hugs the road well. However, the gas mileage (22-23 mpg) needs to be improved as do the sight lines & the location of the gear shift."
16 people out of 29 found this review helpful
By Jarad on Tuesday, October 21, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 15,100overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "good sturdy vehicle. tail gate lift works well."
Cons: "no backup sensors. backup camera image is poor."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6
"Bought this model before the backup sensors and side view mirrors had additional small mirrors to see along side the vehicle. Back up camera image on front dash is pretty bad during the day. Newer models may be better."
2 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By Perfect family crossover on Tuesday, October 07, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 43,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Comfortable and spacious"
Cons: "Wide turning radius. Watchout for Recalls"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"We have a 2009 Venza w/43k miles, the convenience package and JBL sound system. My husband bought this car pre-owned in 2011 with 17k miles on it. I was resistant to this car as our family car - the commercials showed only retirees enjoying it. But it is so spacious and comfortable. Fits two full-size convertible carseats with room for an adult to fit relatively comfortably - save for sitting in the rear with two toddlers. When my 16-month old niece visited we were able to fit in a third full-size convertible carseat on the rear bench! The reclining rear seats also allow the the girls to nap more comfortably in their carseats without their heads rolling about. At 5'8, the leg and hip room are unmatched! As for reliability: within the first year of ownership there were two recalls. The first left me and my oldest daughter stranded at Target with the engine dead, the brake pedal completely depressed and the car not able to be taken out of Park. When AAA arrived, the car was lifted on the bed of the tow truck and brought back to the dealership. It was a brake-sensor recall. The next time the check engine light came on, I immediately brought it to the dealership - yet another recall. At the same time my husband had been bringing in is 2008 Tundra in for some recalls as well. At that point I was ready to abandon the Toyota brand all together. But my husband still had faith and insisted that both Toyotas were worth fixing and keeping. Thankfully, since those first two incidences, I have had no trouble from the Venza. We do our routine maintenance, and keep up on the latest recall info from Toyota. Overall it's been a great car."
9 people out of 12 found this review helpful
By Trisha on Friday, September 19, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 42overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "great looks, lots of power"
Cons: "lousy placing of windsheild wipers"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I love the power it has. The all wheel drive is one of the best. I live on the coast and driving on the beach in the sand it does wonders!The only complaint I have is the ground clearance could be slightly higher.I love the gas mileage at 23 mpg for an AWD.One other complaint is the way the wipers are set up. It's very confusing & I've had my car for 2 yrs and I still get it messed up.It's a 2012 with 42,000 miles so that shows how much I like it"
14 people out of 26 found this review helpful
By Straticus on Thursday, September 18, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 18,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"Very comfortable to ride in, especially during long trips. Outstanding interior versatility and carrying capacity. Excellent exterior design. Powerful engine. Steering is dead and unresponsive when cruising on interstate. Nudging the steering wheel doesn't work--you have to "tug" it--very irritating. Ride in town is choppy--20" wheels will do that, but I thought the Toyota suspension engineers would have figured that out by now. Transmission is okay most of the time, but it sometimes cannot figure out what gear to be in at very low speeds and simply hums for a short while until locking up--another irritation. Nav screen is washed out by sunlight about 75% of the time. Needs to be reconfigured to a vertical position. Overall, my wife loves the vehicle, but I am a bit disappointed in it overall for the reasons stated. I thought Toyota would have sorted out these types of things given its reputation for quality and market position."
4 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By BJ on Tuesday, August 26, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 28,334overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "All around drivable."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This has been a very reliable car. Easy to enter/leave. Mileage good, but less than rated. The interior space is roomy, and attractive. If I were doing I over again I would buy it."
16 people out of 24 found this review helpful