By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.4
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 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)
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."
15 people out of 28 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