I wasn't blown away by the Venza's exterior the first time I saw it, but I think it may have had something to do with color. Toyota first paraded the crossover around in various shades of brown and grey, but in this bright red -- to say nothing of the large 20-inch wheels -- I start to find it rather attractive.
I do wish, however, that the interior were nowhere as busy as the exterior. The angled radio is a little unusual, but nowhere as counterintuitive as the climate controls. Squeezed into the narrow space between the shifter and the radio, they're easy enough to read -- but it took me a few moments to realize their settings were displayed on a tiny LCD screen mounted just beneath the windshield (this same screen is also used for the rear-view camera, which, given the display size, is virtually worthless).
Unless you're bowled over by the styling or have always longed for a modern take on the Camry wagon, there's little about the Venza that's unique-and considering even the Toyota faithful are now eying other models in light of recent headlines, that may prove to be rather damning.
Evan McCausland, Web Producer