2009 Toyota Venza AWD V6

I'm amazed at those who criticize domestic automakers for building too many SUVs and crossovers. As Rusty said, Toyota's lineup is chock full of them already, and apart from looking like a rotund Camry, I'm not sure what exactly the Venza brings to either Toyota's portfolio or this segment in general.

The interior may look quite nice, but as Phil noted, it lacks the typical Toyota refinement we've all come to respect. The grained plastics are nice to look at, but they're remarkably hard to the touch. I counted quite a few notable panel gaps around the center console, which, although it offers quite a bit of storage, is somewhat awkward to use. I've no idea why designers felt the need to put an unusable storage bin next to the shifter, or why it doubles as a secret passage for cords leading to the 12-volt outlet hidden beneath the cupholders. And perhaps it's just me, but should a $36,000 vehicle have such a fuzzy headliner? Our $18,000 Honda Fit doesn't.

With the smooth 3.5-liter V-6 underhood, the Venza drives quite well, but I can't see myself looking elsewhere for a similar vehicle. The Ford Edge is certainly a competitor, but I'd be remiss not to cross-shop within Toyota's own lineup: the Highlander isn't that much bigger, yet offers enough space and seating for seven passengers.

Evan McCausland, Web Producer

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