By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating:
With the 2012 Toyota Venza wagon, Toyota combines some of the best attributes of an SUV with the handling and visual appeal of a sporty sedan. Departing from the usual tall and lean SUV look, the Venza is visibly wide in its stance, with big wheels and an imposing grille. This design creates a cavernous interior as big on hip and shoulder room as it is head and legroom. Blurring the line between station wagon and SUV makes it a bit difficult to pinpoint the 2012 Toyota Venza wagon's competition. Its wagon-like styling and available all-wheel drive (AWD) would seem to put it in the same league as the Subaru Outback, while its long and wide body might better be compared to the Honda Crosstour or even the Nissan Murano. To keep everyone happy, Toyota offers the Venza in a number of flavors, ranging from a simple 4-cylinder front-wheel-drive (FWD) version to a loaded V6 AWD model.
If you're of the mindset that a big car is always safer than a small one, you'll feel at ease behind the wheel of the 2012 Venza.
The 2012 Toyota Venza doesn't come cheap and doesn't offer a third-row seat. Those wanting more passenger room should look to the Hyundai Veracruz or Mazda CX-9, while those seeking better fuel economy might prefer the Subaru Outback or Kia Sorento.
The 2012 Toyota Venza wagon is offered in three trims this year, a change from last year's single trim offering. LE and XLE trim levels will be offered with a choice of 4- or 6-cyinder engines, while the Limited is available only with the V6; all versions offer the choice of front drive or all-wheel drive (AWD).
Driving Impressions While the 2012 Toyota Venza's ride is not quite as soft as those of the Toyota Avalon or Camry, it's far from abrupt. The Venza's ride remains comfortable so long...as the roads are smooth. However, road irregularities are quickly picked up by the large wheel/tire combo and transmitted to the cabin. Interior noise levels were also a bit higher than we expected, again perhaps owing to the big tires. If you settle for the 2.7-liter inline 4, you'll get an engine that delivers adequate acceleration and passing power and relatively good fuel economy. However, we think most people will want the added power of the V6; it not only increases the 2012 Toyota Venza's ability to pass and merge, it performs better when teamed with the AWD system. The big Venza's chassis is not tuned for razor-sharp handling, a fact we experienced first-hand while rounding corners at higher speeds. Still, we think that most buyers will be perfectly pleased with the way the Venza handles around-town jaunts. As for long-term driving, we found both front and rear seating positions offer excellent comfort and support, with lots of room in the back to stretch out and get comfy.
Integrated Sliding Center Console
Comprised of a set of cup holders and a padded arm rest that slide independently of each other, the center console provides up 14.7 liters 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 been alone in the rain with arms full of groceries, the power liftgate can be operated with a simple push of a key fob-mounted button.
The 2012 Toyota Venza's interior is big in all directions. Comfortable seating choices include cloth or leather upholstery (trim dependent), heated front seats and a power driver's seat with power lumbar support. With no third-row seat to take up space, the Venza offers an impressive 70.1 cubic feet of cargo space, while figures for head, leg and hip room are all near the top of the segment. The large, clever sliding center console can accommodate all manner of items, from purses to tablets. Optional features to make the interior more luxurious include a huge panoramic glass moonroof and a JBL audio system. Pet-friendly accessories include a rear liftgate pet ramp, booster seat with harness, pet buckles and rear-seat zipline-style harnesses.Exterior
Of all of Toyota's current designs, the 2012 Venza wagon is one of the most daring and original. Standard 19- or 20-inch wheels are definitely uncommon in this segment and contribute to the Venza's good handling and assertive looks. We like the color choices Toyota offers on the Venza, which stand in stark contrast to the boring silver, gray and off-white hues all too common these days. With 8.1 inches of ground clearance, the 2012 Toyota Venza can pretty much tackle the deepest snow drifts while still maintaining its composure in the turns. However, despite its height, the Venza wagon still requires minimal effort stepping in or out, a fact that makes it decidedly easier to load in kids, groceries or whatever else goes inside the Venza's generous interior.
The 2012 Toyota Venza wagon is offered in three well-equipped trims: LE, XLE and Limited. Inside, standard equipment worth mentioning includes dual-zone climate control, 8-way power driver's seat, 3.5-inch multi-information display, tilt/telescopic steering wheel with audio controls, AM/FM/CD with Bluetooth phone connectivity and streaming music, a USB port and power operation of the windows, locks and mirrors. The XLE adds leather seating, a 4-way power passenger seat, anti-theft alarm, heated front seats, Smart Key with push-button start, power rear liftgate and a rear backup camera. The top-of-the-line Limited adds navigation, HID headlamps, a 3.5-liter V6 engine and a JBL 13-speaker Synthesis audio system. All Venzas have Toyota's comprehensive Star Safety System, which includes Enhanced Vehicle Stability Control, Traction Control, Anti-lock Brakes, Electronic Brake-force Distribution, Brake Assist and Smart Stop Technology, plus seven airbags.
The 2012 Venza's options are bundled into trim-specific packages. The LE Convenience Package adds a power rear liftgate and rear backup camera, while the LE Preferred Package brings a panoramic glass roof. The XLE Premium Package adds the panoramic glass roof, JBL audio and satellite radio, while the Navigation Package adds voice-activated DVD touchscreen navigation and a rear backup camera.
Powering the 2012 Toyota Venza wagon is either a 182-horsepower 2.7-liter in-line 4-cylinder or a 268-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine. Both engines come with a standard 6-speed automatic transmission that offers uphill/downhill shift logic to minimize gear hunting. Those who do more highway driving should opt for the inline 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 the V6 will result in only a small fuel economy penalty.
182 horsepower @ 5,800 rpm
182 lb-ft of torque @ 4,200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/27 (FWD), 20/25 (AWD)
268 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm
246 lb-ft of torque @ 4,700 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/26 (FWD), 18/25 (AWD)
The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the 4-cylinder 2012 Toyota Venza LE starts just over $28,000, while the V6 LE is right around $30,000. All-wheel drive will add about $1,500. The XLE starts around $30,500, while a fully-loaded AWD Limited will be around $40,000. These prices put the Venza right in the MSRP range of the Nissan Murano and Ford Edge and significantly higher than the Subaru Outback 2.5i and Mazda CX-7. However, prices can vary due to market conditions and location, so be sure to check out the Fair Purchase Price on kbb.com to see what others are paying for the Venza in your area. Given Toyota's better-than-average resale values as a whole, we expect the Venza to do quite well over time, outperforming the Murano, Edge and CX-7, and equaling the Subaru Outback.
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