By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.3
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)
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 21 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