2009 Toyota Venza

John Stewart

Venza buyers will have a choice of two engines, each backed by six-speed automatic transmissions, and front-wheel drive (FWD) or all-wheel-drive (AWD). The V-6's peak torque, 246 lb-ft, comes at 4700 rpm. As a result, it is the engine you'd choose should you need to tow a trailer. This is the same engine as in the Camry, but the Venza is about 400 pounds heavier, which makes it a tad less responsive off the line but more stable and substantial at speed.

We also had the opportunity to drive the Venza with the standard engine, a 2.7-liter four-cylinder. We didn't notice much performance drop-off in ordinary driving, although the four-banger gives up 86 hp to the V-6. Peak torque, 182 lb-ft, arrives at 4200 rpm. With slightly taller gearing, the four-cylinder Venza isn't horribly slow when it comes to acceleration, but the chief advantage of the 2.7 is its fuel economy. In front-wheel-drive trim, the four-cylinder Venza will deliver 21 mpg city and 29 mpg on the highway, according to preliminary estimates, compared with 19/26 mpg for the V-6. The 2.7-liter engine isn't available in the Camry, but it does appear in the Toyota Highlander SUV. It's a PZEV/SULEV-II powerplant, which means it's about as clean as an internal-combustion engine can get.

The Venza's "on-demand" all-wheel-drive system is similar to that currently used in Toyota's RAV4 and Matrix. The key point is that it can distribute power in a 50/50 blend, front to rear, which is optimal when road surfaces get seriously slick with ice or mud. Most of the time, the vehicle will operate primarily in front-wheel-drive mode, biasing power to individual wheels when slip is detected. The AWD system adds about 175 pounds to the vehicle, cuts mileage by about 1 mpg, and adds a degree of complexity with an extra driveshaft and CV joint. It also increases the Venza's price by $1450. However, in locales that are subjected to four seasons of weather, we'd consider it worth the investment.

New Car Research

our instagram

get Automobile Magazine

Subscribe to the magazine and save up to 84% off the newsstand price


new cars

Read Related Articles