2009 Toyota Venza

According to Toyota, its newest production model, the 2009 Venza, is a "crossover sedan" that will "launch a new segment, not just join one." The company must have forgotten that crossovers, including their own RAV4 and Highlander, have been flooding the market for years.

Despite the marketing spin, the Venza is sure to be a strong competitor against the likes of the Saturn Vue, the Dodge Journey, and the Ford Edge. Speaking of the Edge, the Venza's front end looks a lot like a Ford beak turned up at the edges in a smile. Like those American competitors, the Venza has seating for only five passengers. To its credit, though, it is larger and more nicely trimmed than Toyota's Matrix. Think of it as a shorter, sleeker Highlander.

The Venza's maximum towing capacity is 3500 pounds, which is strong for such a vehicle but blurs the separation between the RAV4 and the Highlander, Toyota's car-based SUVs. The well-appointed interior is inoffensive in typical Toyota fashion, but it conveniently adds the utility of the station wagon - whoops, sorry crossover sedan - body.

The Venza, which was previewed by the FT-SX Concept shown at Detroit in 2005 and debuted at the '08 Detroit show, will go on sale in late 2008 with a 268-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 connected to a six-speed automatic. A few months later, a freakishly large 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine will become available, also with the six-speed automatic. V-6-powered cars will ride on twenty-inch wheels, while four-cylinder models will have nineteen-inch rolling stock.

Click the link below for high-resolution Venza images.

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