I am happy to occasionally forgive awkward styling for highly functional interiors or to forgive a compromised interior for a stunning exterior design. The Porsche Panamera looks awkward in the metal but makes sense once you sit in the back seat. A more affordable Chevy Camaro looks great but has some functional downfalls. Somehow Toyota created a rather large vehicle that neither looks great nor offers any breakthrough interior comfort.
I was not easily able to get in or out of the Venza while wearing boots appropriate for the recent dumping of snow we received. Once I did manage to finagle myself into place, I could hardly reach the knob to tune the radio without leaning forward and towards the passenger seat. Why in the world does the radio slope up and away from the driver? Every other automaker seems to have figured out it makes more sense to tilt the radio in the direction of the driver. The Venza's rear seat appears much more functional than its competitors' offerings, though.
Unlike Rusty, I thought the Venza needed a considerable amount of input to gain any meaningful speed. If I wasn't flooring the accelerator, the car was very lackadaisical. Oddly enough the brake pedal offered almost no feel and seemed more sensitive to how hard it was pressed than how far it was depressed. The steering was also incredibly vague, but that's nothing unusual for a Toyota or a crossover in general.
Despite its shortcomings, I can see how the Venza would be a desirable vehicle for a trip with several other people and a reasonable amount of luggage. The empty nester set that receives no joy from driving will be very happy in a Venza.
Phil Floraday, Senior Online Editor