My first thought as I sat behind the wheel of the Toyota Venza and looked around was something along the lines of, "Where did all this cheap plastic come from?" There's a surprising amount of hard plastic within reach of the driver, and yet the top of the dashboard is soft. Perhaps this is an example of Toyota's to maintain profit margins.
I know the Venza is targeted at the Ford Edge and the Nissan Murano, but the entire time I spent behind the wheel I kept thinking that a Subaru would do a better job of being what this Venza is trying to be. The Subaru Forester is similar in price and fuel economy but offers more utility. Maybe I'm missing the mark completely here, but I'd much rather have a Forester, which weighs some 500 pounds less, than the few extra inches of overall vehicle length that the Venza offers.
The Venza will probably prove to be a reliable vehicle with strong resale value, but those qualities do little to make me want to drive one.
Phil Floraday, Senior Online Editor