By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating:
During another era the 2013 Toyota Venza might well have been called a Camry Liftback. With today's Venza Toyota incorporates a crossover utility's higher seating position and good outward vision with expressive sheetmetal, an aggressive footprint, generous cargo capacity and a choice of two powertrains. And it puts the end result, the 5-door Venza, in the same showroom as another Camry-based SUV, the Highlander. There are, of course, options beyond its own showroom; shoppers will find Nissan's Murano and, more recently, the Dodge Journey offering similar fare. If looking for a "soft-road" option it's an embarrassment of riches.
If you enjoy the utility and versatility of an SUV while preferring the car-based platform of the crossover SUV, the Venza will provide a credible menu of platform and features, along with its own, singularly stylistic agenda.
A prospective customer might find Toyota's 2013 Venza falling into a middle ground, neither fish (an upright, practical SUV) nor fowl (the wished-for aggressive sports sedan or hatch).
The 2013 Toyota Venza's enhanced exterior styling (Toyota's descriptive) includes a new upper and lower grille, fog lamps and taillights. With a new 19-inch wheel design and three new exterior colors (Attitude Black, Cypress Pearl and Cosmic Gray Mica), your neighbor with the '12 will probably wish he had waited. The 3-trim-level strategy (introduced last year) continues, albeit with updated option packages.
Driving Impressions In the time-honored tradition of offering a car-based platform powered by car-based drivetrains while suffering from SUV-induced weight, those opting to equip their 2013 Toyota Venza with Toyota's DOHC inline-4...will learn to be patient when merging onto a freeway. Check the V6 box and you'll immediately benefit from more horsepower, torque and refinement. Both engines, notably, hook up to 6-speed automatic transmissions and operate on regular unleaded gasoline. The power rack-and-pinion steering is reasonably well connected, as is the all-independent suspension. One negative associated with the Venza's generous rubber – in either 19-inch or 20-inch sizes – is the harshness transmitted to the interior. Were these 17-inch or 18-inch tires more road irregularities would be absorbed by the tire/wheel combo, and less would be transmitted into your backside. As with most Toyota vehicles the overall over-the-road impression is rather benign, but given the long ownership history most Toyota owners enjoy, that needn't be a bad thing.
AVAILABLE ALL-WHEEL DRIVE
It's rare that a manufacturer will offer all-wheel drive (AWD) across the board, often reserving the option – if it is an option – for only the high-horsepower, top-of-the-line trim levels. Toyota provides it throughout the 2013 Venza range, from the base LE, where it can be purchased for around $30,000, to the top-of-the-line V6 Limited.
ONE-TOUCH FOLD-FLAT SEATS
If you use a sport-oriented utility for its utility, there are few things more frustrating than loading gear at the rear hatch only to discover that you can't fold the rear seats from that position. Toyota's 2013 Venza supplies an all-too-logical cure with one-touch fold-flat levers located in the cargo area. It ain't rocket science, but given the feature's relative scarcity (on competitive vehicles) you'd think it was.
The 2013 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 3rd-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. We especially like the 1-touch fold-flat feature for the rear seats. Located in the cargo area, folding either one or both sides is easy and intuitive. Optional features to make the interior more luxurious include a huge panoramic glass moonroof and a premium HDD navigation system with Entune and JBL audio. Pet-friendly accessories include a liftgate pet ramp, booster seat with harness, pet buckles and rear-seat zipline-style harnesses.Exterior
On the street the Toyota Venza is immediately recognizable as something different. In point of fact, it's sufficiently different to be virtually unrecognizable as a Toyota. Its expressive face and flanks are an obvious departure from what is frequently known as "Asian generic," while even its standard rubber – all 19 inches of it – provides the Venza with an athletic footprint. And while its profile allows for a high seating position to better see what's around you, the step-in height remains low, making it far more convenient for smallish adults and the elderly. We like its wide, athletic stance, and applaud the U.S.-based design team for its effort, providing – as it does – the Venza with visual differentiation from both the Camry and Highlander.
All three trim levels offered on the 2013 Toyota Venza provide a comfortable level of accommodation. On the outside that up-market attitude is evident with 19-inch alloy rims and generous 245/55 rubber. Inside, even the base LE offers dual- zone automatic climate control; an AM/FM/CD player with MP3/WMA playback capability, six speakers, auxiliary audio jack, USB port with iPod connectivity and control; and a 3.5-inch LCD multi-information display. Seats are fabric in the LE, while leather covers the seating surfaces in the mid-level XLE and up-market Limited. And all 2013 Toyota Venzas enjoy 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.
For those residing in the Snowbelt, or those in the Sunbelt wanting the assurance of all-wheel drive, Toyota provides all-season traction as an available option on all trim levels and powertrains. In short, if you want to spend under $30K for a base Venza LE, but wish to enjoy the security that comes only with AWD, you can do it. And while the standard 2.7-liter inline-4, available in both LE and XLE trims, is a well-respected powerplant, Toyota's 3.5-liter V6 is (again) available across the board.
Propelling the 2013 Toyota Venza wagon is either a 181-horsepower 2.7-liter inline 4-cylinder or 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 front-wheel-drive (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.
181 horsepower @ 5,800 rpm
182 lb-ft of torque @ 4,200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/27 mpg (FWD), 20/25 mpg (AWD)
268 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm
246 lb-ft of torque @ 4,700 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/26 mpg (FWD), 18/25 mpg (AWD)
The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the entry-level Toyota Venza is just under $29,000; that figure supplies you with a well-equipped Venza LE with 4-cylinder power, front-wheel drive, handling and destination. Add V6 power and all-wheel drive and that LE price rises to just under $32,000. The mid-level XLE Venza begins at just over $32,000, while a fully equipped AWD Limited could easily exceed $40,000. These price points put Toyota's 2013 Venza in the MSRP range of the Nissan Murano and Ford Edge, while being significantly higher than Subaru's Outback 2.5i. However, prices will vary due to market conditions and location, so be sure and reference the Fair Purchase Price on KBB.com to see what other consumers are paying for the 2013 Venza in your area. And given Toyota's better-than-average resale values, we expect the Venza to perform credibly as a used vehicle, outpacing the Edge and Murano while coming close to matching the resale performance of 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!"
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
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