By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.2
Slotting between Toyota's best selling Camry Sedan and its Highlander SUV, the 2011 Toyota Venza is part crossover, part wagon and part family sedan. Unlike many compact crossovers, the Venza's wide body creates a spacious interior with plenty of room for five passengers and their gear. Long rear doors make for hassle free entry and exits (not to mention securing in place those bulky child safety seats) and the Venza's impressive ground clearance and available all-wheel drive helps it traverse deep snow with ease. Because it blurs the line between wagon and SUV, the Venza can be cross shopped against a number of competitors including the Nissan Murano, Mazda CX-7 and Subaru Outback. Its choice of four or six-cylinder engines, along with a healthy roster of available equipment, give the Venza a leg up on many challengers, as does Toyota's reputation for quality and stellar resale values.
If you're a fan of vehicles that offer a commanding view of the road, but no fan of high step-in and loading heights, the Venza will sufficiently satisfy your needs. With the interior quality and detail of the most lavish Camry, the Venza will also satisfy your need for comfort and luxury.
Outside of a simplified option package list, there are no major changes for the 2011 Toyota Venza.
Driving Impressions Not quite sedan soft, but not quite SUV harsh, either, the Venza performed much as we expected on both city and highway roads. Although most felt the Venza to be...a smooth operator, some of our editors did feel the stylish 19- and 20-inch wheel/tire combo creates some noticeable road noise and telegraphs road imperfections to the passenger compartment. While the 2.7-liter in-line four easily tackled some rather steep hills without too much gear searching or audible strain, the more robust V6 is definitely the engine you'll want. During some sportier driving moments, the Venza's chassis made it apparent this is not a vehicle meant to be driven aggressively around curves. Still, we think that most buyers will be perfectly pleased with the way the Venza handles around-town jaunts. As for long term comfort, our staff found both rows of seats to be comfortable and spacious enough to accommodate a vehicle full of adults or older children, so much so that no one riding in the second row ever complained after a long road trip.
Integrated Sliding Center Console
Comprised of a set of cup holders and a padded arm rest that slides independently of each other, the center console provides 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.
Power Rear Liftgate
Helpful for anyone who's ever found themselves alone in the rain with two arms full of groceries, the power liftgate can be operated with a simple push of a key fob mounted button.
The Venza is as big inside as it appears outside. Seating is offered in either a breathable soft cloth or available leather, the latter heated, while the driver is treated to an eight-way power adjustable seat with power lumbar support. Because there is no third-row seat, the Venza offers an impressive 70.1 cubic-feet of cargo space. Head, hip, leg and shoulder room are all excellent, and the Venza's sliding center console can accommodate all manner of gear, from a large purse to a plethora of portable electronics. A set of sliding cup holders allow easy access to the console, which also houses an auxiliary audio input jack and a small pass-through allowing a cord to attach to your device when the lid is closed.Exterior
Despite glimpses of Camry styling peppered all about the Venza's exterior, the overall design is one of the most daring to come from Toyota in a decade. The Venza's standard 19- or 20-inch wheels, wide wrap-around grille and stunning paint color options give the vehicle a bold, solid presence, while its impressive 8.1-inch ground clearance makes traversing unruly surface a bit more reassuring. Contrary to the Venza's imposing height, the vehicle's low step-in height makes it decidedly easier to load in kids, groceries or whatever you need to place inside the vehicle, another plus over some crossover SUVs.
The 2011 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, iPod connectivity, tonneau cover, Bluetooth, 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 and traction control, and anti-lock brakes are standard fare.
Unlike some competitors that bundle high-end options only with their V6 models, the Venza's numerous options are available regardless of engine choice or drive configuration. The most noteworthy packages include leather seating surfaces, push button start, backup camera, HID headlamps with Automatic High Beams and a power open/close hatch. 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, while those who like to feel the sun on their shoulders can opt for the panoramic moonroof. Also available is a voice-activated touch-screen DVD navigation system, although it only offers a four-disc CD changer.
Powering the Venza is either a 182-hp 2.7-liter in-line four cylinder or a 268-hp 3.5-liter V6 engine. 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 27 mpg in FWD guise, this engine is the more financially sensible choice. However, if having AWD or the need to tow 3,500 pounds is a priority, you'll be happy to know that choosing this system will only penalize you by one 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: 21/27 (FWD), 20/25 (AWD)
268 horsepower @ 6200 rpm
246 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4700 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/26 (FWD), 18/25 (AWD)
By Straticus on Thursday, October 09, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 18,500overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Well built; comfortable; great exterior design"
Cons: "Nav screen washout; heavy steering"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I submitted a review of our AWD 2012 Venza Limited a few weeks ago, and was a bit down on steering, transmission, and navigation screen placement--nothing terrible about these items, just irritating. My wife and I were subsequently involved in a major accident on the Interstate when another driver, talking on a hand-held cell phone, did something incredibly stupid in heavy, high-speed traffic with the result that we hit him at about 65 mph. We struck the right rear corner of his vehicle with the right front corner of our Venza. The impact with him and subsequently with the guardrail were terrific. Seat belts and shoulder harnesses saved all three of us. Air bags didn't deploy due to the angles of impact. I wrote this follow-up to my previous submission because I wanted to extoll the fact that the Venza is built like a tank. After over $10,000 in repairs, the vehicle looks and drives like new--I hope that continues. The important points are that there was no intrusion into the passenger compartment, and the frame was not bent or damaged even though right front suspension and axle components had to be replaced. Also, three weeks driving a intermediate rental SUV made me better appreciate the overall qualities of the Venza! Sorry for such a long review. I thought it might be useful for some of you contemplating another vehicle."
15 people out of 19 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."
5 people out of 8 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"
9 people out of 19 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."
2 people out of 2 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."
12 people out of 20 found this review helpful
By JD on Friday, August 22, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 49,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Lots of room, nice looking car"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I've owned this 2010 since new, has 49,000 miles. Got a great deal on it. I use it to drive to Florida and back to Colorado each year. Very comfy for up to 5 passengers. Can take four golfers with clubs. I get many remarks about classy style and smooth ride. My sister and a neighbor like it so much they both bought one. V6 AWD great in snow with plenty of power for the mountains. Over the road get 21-25 mpg, around town get 20 mpg. Reliable, with no issues so far. Might buy the next gen when it comes out."
2 people out of 4 found this review helpful