REVIEWS: 2009 Toyota Venza AWD

May 29, 2009
0905 08 Z+2009 Toyota Venza 4 Cylinder AWD+profile
If anyone spots a Venza in my driveway - one actually owned by me, not borrowed - please shoot me. This Toyota has the sex appeal of a turnip and far less sporting character than the little red wagon I admired as a 4-year-old. The high beltline, the é ride motions, and the boring-at-all-costs attitude is more than I can stomach. Also, I detected a few poor trim fits inside which makes me suspicious that Toyota has relaxed its supreme quality standards. I must, however, admit that the Venza is a perfectly suitable transpo-appliance for Joe and Jane Blow who motor through life in a trance. It's affordable, fairly roomy, probably safe, and capable of mid-20-mpg fuel economy. Since it wears a sombrero badge, durability is practically guaranteed. So if these qualities appeal to you, be my guest, but do me a favor and keep your Venza out of my sight.
Don Sherman, Technical Editor
0905 07 Z+2009 Toyota Venza 4 Cylinder AWD+center Stack
Wow. I thought I didn't care for the milquetoast Venza and its further crowding of Toyota's lineup, but I don't feel nearly as negatively about this vehicle as Mr. Don Sherman. I mean, at least this Venza wears an extremely attractive coat of gold umber mica paint. It still resembles an uglified Ford Edge, though, particularly from the front.
Like Sherman, I, too, noticed poor panel fits and cheapish materials in a couple places, particularly in the radio/HVAC center stack, but I've noticed occasional slipping quality standards in Toyota products for a couple years now.
I expected the four-cylinder Venza to be interminably slow, but it seems capable of keeping up with grandma-footed traffic, so long as Joe and Jane Blow floor the accelerator frequently (which I doubt they will). When I first tried some acceleration runs with the Venza, I was impressed by how quick it felt, considering the low horsepower and high weight. However, upon further review, I think my initial impressions stemmed more from the big four-cylinder's loudness than the Venza's actual swiftness.
I know that this vehicle is far from fast, but I was still alarmed by the brakes' engagement only after the pedal is depressed a couple inches. Also, I found the driver's seat to be too flat in both padding and in positioning. I guess Toyota just assumes that most Americans bring along plenty of padding in their bottoms.
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor
0905 05 Z+2009 Toyota Venza 4 Cylinder AWD+front Passenger Interior
My feelings about the Venza are not nearly as visceral as Don Sherman's. His reaction to its utter lack of personality is understandable, but for me, that translates into a feeling of indifference rather than hostility. Buyers of the Venza aren't going to care - or probably even notice - if their vehicle has a four- or six-cylinder engine. And that'll be all right, because this four-cylinder, while not exactly a powerhouse, has sufficient oomph to merge onto the highway at the proper speed and tootle along to the grocery store, the weekly bridge game, or the garden store to pick up a flat or two of spring flowers. The priorities of the Venza owner will be reliability, ease of operation, and sufficient space for carting things and people - and in all those areas it gets a passing grade. Its higher step-in height and larger carrying capacity make it the logical next vehicle for the current Camry owner.
Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor
0905 09 Z+2009 Toyota Venza 4 Cylinder AWD+front Three Quarters View
We already drove a six-cylinder Venza a few weeks ago, so my main interest in this four-cylinder model was whether we would feel deprived by the omission of two cylinders. And I didn't. The four-cylinder Venza comported itself perfectly well in city and freeway driving, and I suspect most owners would be happy enough with the four rather than the V-6. Not only is the four-cylinder cheaper to buy, of course, it gets better fuel economy but doesn't at all feel like a wheezy, underpowered engine. If you're considering the Venza, you certainly ought to take both models for a test-drive. Rest assured, you won't run into our tech editor, Don Sherman, at the Toyota dealership doing the same thing.
Joe DeMatio, Executive Editor
0905 01 Z+2009 Toyota Venza 4 Cylinder AWD+rear Three Quarters View
2009 Toyota Venza 5-Dr SDN AWD
Base price (with destination): $27,425
Price as tested: $34,284
Options:  
Comfort Package: $2,{{{100}}}
Leather seating surfaces  
4-way Power front passenger front seat with lumbar support  
Driver and front passenger seat multi-stage seat heater  
Satin mahogany wood-grain-style interior trim  
Leather-wrapped steering wheel  
Leather-wrapped shift knob with satin  
Mahogany wood-grain style inlay  
Color-keyed foldable power heated outside mirrors and windshield wiper de-icer  
Voice-activated touch screen DVD: $2,590
Navigation system with JBL synthesis  
Surround sound AM/FM 4 disc in-dash CD changer with integrated satellite radio, MP3/WMA playback capability  
Hands free phone capability and music streaming via Bluetooth wireless technology and 13 speakers  
Panoramic glass roof with front: $1,050
Power tilt/slide moonroof  
Floor mats &cargo mat: $269
Cargo Net: $49
Wheel locks: $81
Fuel economy: 20 / 28 / 23 mpg (city/hwy/combined)
Engine:  
Size: 2.7L 4CYL DOHC w/ Dual VVT-i
Horsepower: 182 hp @ 5800 rpm
Torque: 182 lb-ft @ 4200 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed auto ECT-I w/ sequential shift
Weight: 3944 lb
Wheels/Tires: 20 x 8-in aluminum wheels
  P265/65R18 AL2 Tires
0905 02 Z+2009 Toyota Venza 4 Cylinder AWD+rear Three Quarters View

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