By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating:
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.
With no third-row seat, the Venza is at a distinct disadvantage against such competitors as the Chevy Traverse, Hyundai Veracruz, Honda Pilot or Mazda CX-9. Those impressed by maximum fuel economy will find the Subaru Outback bests the Venza by a wide margin.
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 Venza Lover (WI) on Friday, May 17, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 55,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Lots of space and Cupholders"
Cons: "Cloth seats are hard to keep clean"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Everyone loves this car! I am regularly carpooling with 5 adults and the Venza is complimented over and over for the space and ride. Thank you for inventing this wonderful vehicle!"
By SoonerFan (OK) on Tuesday, April 30, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 31,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Drives great. Good gas mileage. Lotsa leg room."
Cons: "Rides rougher than other cars in this category."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I love the interior of this car. It has lots of leg room for all passengers - even in the back seat. It has wonderful features, lots of pep and our mileage averages about 23 mpg. Our only complaint is that the ride is not as smooth as other cars in this category. The navi is great, but it's positioned so that it has a glare when backing up - which makes the backup camera hard to use."
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By McPiggy (OK) on Monday, April 29, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 30,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Excellent reliability"
Cons: "I haven't found any yet!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I am still loving my Venza after almost 4 years on the road. I am thinking of a newer model, but I have had such a great experience with this one, it almost seems like I would be betraying the one I have! I was one off the very first Venza owners in my area and when mine was new, people stared everywhere I went. I would leave stores only to find small groups of total strangers circling my bronze beauty in the parking lot. People were not shy in asking if I liked it, or if they could see the interior, and I was happy to talk about it and show it off. Now, I see Venzas all over my town and like to think that I helped set the trend for the Venza frenzy in my area. This is hands down the best vehicle, in all categories, that I have eveer owned. And even better...mine is 4 years old and its current value is only 2000 less than what I paid for it. WOW, you should test drive a Venza now!"
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful
By Cherry Pie (MO) on Monday, March 25, 2013
I owned and sold this car
Reason: Bought the new 2013 Venza - My approximate mileage is 77,000
Pros: "Sexy, fun to drive, Classy, holds its value"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I absolutely loved my 2009 Venza. I put 77,000 miles on it in 4 years still looks new inside and out. I bought the top of the line 6 cyl AWD Blizzard White. The only thing this car didn't have was seat memory for different drivers.Lots of room and lots of class. I went in for an oil change and ended up with the new 2013 Blizzrd white again!!! Limited addition I will pick it up Wednesday and can't wait to drive it home. This car never missed a beat in all the snow the midwest had this year. I averaged about 26 miles per gallon which is not too bad for a car this size. The only reason I traded was because i drive a lot and after 90,000 miles cars loose value, so I needed to make a choice to keep it or trade while it was still worth a good amount. We were able to trade for a great price so I will start a new love affair with the next one. I highly recommend this vehicle for young and old. It is an SUV but it drives like a car. This one has the seat memory too!!! So this car really has it all now! Classy!!!!!"
7 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By Ronn (VA) on Sunday, March 24, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 100overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive, the JBL system rocks ! smooth ride"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Love my new Venza. This makes my 8th Toyota, and I just traded the 2008 Highlander Limited for this crossover. While I loved the Highlander, it was a little big, and I wanted something more sporty looking. The Venza is sharp looking....I have the Golden Umber Mica color which is really beautiful on this car. I have had many comments on the color already ! While some have complained about the road noise and bumpy ride, I can tell you that just isn't so. The ride is smooth and very quiet.....just as quiet as the Highlander...easier to drive ! Get one and enjoy !"
9 people out of 10 found this review helpful
By BigD (NY) on Thursday, March 07, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 5,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "good looking, reliable, fun to drive"
Cons: "mpg, wind noise, harsh ride, dash fit/finish,"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6
"After almost 5,000 miles, I have to agree that most of the attributes that are pointed out in the cosumer reviews both good and bad are accurate: On the plus side, you get a great looking vehicle that's generally well made; doors shut with a satisfying whump, sheet metal seams are tight, nice features, like power lift gate, homelink, memory seats back up camera and nav. The ride on relatively smooth roads is rock solid and the V-6 and 6 speed transmission are well matched and provide ample power. The Venza is not promoted as a sport wagon but it's quick and nimble and actually kind of fun to drive. The seats are comfortable and the back seat is extremely roomy. Rear doors open about as wide as I've seen any rear doors open. If you don't want to be driving the same car everyone else is driving Venza sightings while not rare are far less frequent that Highlanders, Rav4's, 4runners or even FJ Cruisers. On the negative side, the power seats need more adjustabilty, down and back. The power slider on the passenger side only moves back and forth; unacceptable in a car with a $36K MSRP. Turn signals do not have the lane change feature that allows you to hit it once for a three or so flashes; annoying. More annoying is that the directionals won't click off after the more gradual turn on to an entry or exit ramp. That coupled with the fact that the click sound is soft and dead, easily masked by music or road noise, added with the fact that I hold the wheel at a point that blocks my view of the flasher means that I frequently find myself driving for extended distances with my turn signal on! There's too much wind noise from the mirrors. In some cross winds I find myself checking windows even still, thinking one has to be open a bit. There's also a fair amount of road noise and what really shocked me was the first time I drove over recently salted roads. The salt thrown up from the rear tires and hitting the wheel wells sounded like gravel shaken inside an empty coffee can. While it handles surprisingly well the 20" tires make for a jarring ride over rough pavement; very trucklike. The rear camera is a nice idea but clouds and blurs from moisture running down the lift gate and there's no rear sensors. And then there's the dashboard. I didn't inspect it closely (I guess i presumed certainly things are a given) as the overall look is nice, clean and functional if not elegant. The fit is simply substandard. The seams, and there are lots of them, around the vents and speaker grills are uneven and gapped. The dash is a soft touch material but with a wierd grainy texture like you might find in vinyl siding. And the biggest disappointment to date is the mileage. Granted I haven't done a ton of highway driving but I'm averaging less than 18 mpg: had I known I wouldn't have considered the Venza. The 2013 Venza received a mild cosmetic makeover; the first since introduced in 2009. If Toyota is interested in keeping this model in the lineup they need to go much deeper with the modifications. As it stands, the Venza is fast, relativley fun, good looking and practical but the cons are considerable, so much so that if given a chance, I am not sure I would buy it again."
15 people out of 19 found this review helpful