2013 Toyota Venza Review – Video

Toyota’s forgotten crossover is best left ignored

2013 Toyota Venza Review – Video

Venza… it sounds like the name of an island in the Bahamas, an exotic dancer’s stage name or maybe even some sort of topical ointment. In reality it’s Toyota’s midsize crossover that rivals vehicles like the Nissan Murano and Ford Edge.

FAST FACTS

1. A base 2.7L 4-cylinder engine delivers 181 hp, while an optional and more muscular 3.5-liter V6 puts out 268 ponies.

2. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard on every Venza. Front- or all-wheel drive is available with either engine.

3. Base price for the 2013 Toyota Venza is right around $29,000.

4. The V6, AWD is rated at 18 MPG city, 25 highway, which averages to 21 MPG. Despite aggressive driving we handily beat that score, hitting 24.

It’s supposed to blend things like versatility and comfort with a healthy serving of design flair. Does it succeed on these counts or is it just another forgettable utility vehicle? Hit the jump for all the plump-and-juicy details you can stomach.

VENZA 101

The Venza occupies a sliver of space in Toyota’s lineup between the compact RAV4 and the three-row Highlander. It seats five passengers, offers generous cargo room and has a number of other nice features including unexpectedly swoopy styling. But is that enough to justify its existence?

Frankly it’s a bit redundant, and that’s something customers seem to have noticed as well. Consider each vehicle’s sales.

In May, U.S. dealers moved fewer that 3,400 of them. By comparison the RAV4 outsold it by a six-to-one margin! The Highlander, that’s due to be replaced very soon, topped it by more than three-to-one, despite being out of date. Perhaps the Venza’s high price has something to do with that.

Get the Flash Player to see this player.

Base price for a front-wheel drive, four-cylinder Venza is about $29,000, including shipping and handling fees. The midrange XLE test model provided to AutoGuide for evaluation stickered for a little less than 36 grand. Features like a V6 engine and all-wheel drive added to the bottom line.

UNDER THE HOOD, OVER THE MOON

2013 Toyota Vnza XLE AWD 30

When it comes to engines Venza buyers have two choices, just like voters in America. The entry-level unit is an efficient four-cylinder that displaces a surprisingly large 2.7-liters. This gargantuan banger delivers 181 horsepower with 182 lb-ft of torque, which results in a fairly low specific output of just 67 ponies per liter. Partially making up for that deficiency, drivers can choose between front- and all-wheel drive, which is a nice option. Some competitors only make four-wheel power available with up-level engines.

CLICK HERE: to build and price your Venza

The Venza’s optional powerplant is a 3.5-liter V6. It’s much larger and significantly more powerful than the malnourished base unit. It puts out 268 ponies with 246 units of twist.

This model stickers at 18 miles per gallon in city driving and up to 25 on the expressway. That works out to an average of 21, something we beat like Nazi Germany back in the spring of ‘45. Driven exuberantly the car delivered an impressive 24 MPG.

2013 Toyota Vnza XLE AWD 03This V6 may not be the most powerful on the market today but it’s a winner in certain non-quantifiable ways. It lacks direct fuel injection and a power-boosting turbocharger but it’s a lot like a Labrador puppy bounding toward you after a long day at work. Her shower of kisses makes the day’s stress almost disappear.

One of the smoothest running bent-sixes in the business, the 2GR-FE is incredibly refined and willing to rev. Best of all it imbues the Venza with some impressively fleet acceleration. This family hauler is quick! Might I suggest dropping this engine in a Scion FR-S?

Completing the powertrain formula is a six-speed automatic transmission. This is something of an afterthought because it’s standard on every Venza. There’s not much else to say other than it works just about perfectly; it’s smooth, quick and efficient. Just like Toyota’s management.

SHIPPING AND HANDLING

2013 Toyota Vnza XLE AWD 08

Aside from adventurous styling, a major draw of crossovers is cargo space. Just like its under-hood performance the Venza doesn’t disappoint in this area, either.

In the rear it offers about 36 cubic feet of volume. With the second row folded flat – or as flat as it goes – that number almost doubles. By a narrow margin the Venza offers more room than either the Murano or Edge.

2013 Toyota Vnza XLE AWD 13Making it easy to load that pair of ammerö you just picked up at IKEA, the cargo hold is wide and the floor fairly low, unfortunately so is the roof. Tall items may be a tight squeeze in the Venza’s boot.

Making room for around half or two-thirds of a söderhamn, the back bench is easier to fold than 7, 2 off suit in a game of Texas hold ‘em. A duet of easy-to-reach levers in the cargo bay unlatches the backrests and tips ‘em forward, all in one smooth motion. If making room in the garage was this easy. Perhaps a five-section ivar is in order.

ROOM WITH A… WELL, LEGROOM

2013 Toyota Vnza XLE AWD 18

Matching its generous cargo area is an equally spacious rear seat. There’s plenty of legroom in the Venza’s back bench. Ratcheting up passenger comfort those split backrests adjust to a number of different angles for maximum comfort.

COMPARE: Toyota Venza vs Ford Edge vs Honda Crosstour

Another benefit for passengers is tinted rear glass, which helps block the sun’s searing heat and adds a dash of privacy. In addition to darkened glazing the car’s hunkered-down stance helps aft-riders feels cozy and safe, or claustrophobic, depending if you appreciate vehicles with high beltlines.

THE DEVIL IS THE DETAILS

2013 Toyota Vnza XLE AWD 19

When people purchase a Toyota product they expect a few things, some inalienable automotive rights, so to speak. We hold these truths to be self evident, that NOT all cars are created equal.

The capital “T” has a well-earned reputation for things like bullet-proof reliability and high fuel efficiency. This righteousness was earned fighting the good fight for decades, striving to build the highest quality vehicles in the world. If Toyota were any more virtuous it would have a halo and wings.

But even the best make mistakes, and Toyota’s Venza is just such an accident. Now, it’s impossible to predict long-term reliability following a week-long test drive but the car was surprising in a number of ways.

2013 Toyota Vnza XLE AWD 24First are the gauges. Sure, they’re large, clearly numbered and usually pretty easy to read, but if the sun is at you 6:00 o’clock position (like any good fighter pilot tries to do) they almost completely wash out with glare. The speedometer becomes almost invisible, and that’s not just annoying, it’s a safety issue as well.

In addition to this problem the Venza’s interior materials are major letdown. Various plastics throughout the vehicle’s cabin (both hard and soft) have a very strange pattern on them. Depending on the lighting conditions it either resembles a newborn elephant’s hide or some sort of imitation wood grain. Either way it’s weird looking, and not very rich.

2013 Toyota Vnza XLE AWD 36

Then there’s the center console, which is something of a double-edge sword. It’s fairly capacious, with large openings, deep recesses and a lid that slides and tilts like a living-room recliner. The design is brilliant on paper, but in practice it’s less than ideal. The problem is the whole thing feels junky, as if it’s going to fall apart in your hands like trying to pick up a hummingbird’s nest with kitchen tongs. Plus it makes all kinds of cheap-sounding creaking noises.

Most troubling though were the various fit-and-finish anomalies inside our test Venza. SHOCKINGLY for a Toyota product its assembly quality was severely lacking. Various panel gaps weren’t very consistent, several pieces on the dashboard weren’t aligned properly and most troubling of all the rear-seat dome light was practically falling down from the headliner.

THE VERDICT

2013 Toyota Vnza XLE AWD 34

So, is the Toyota Venza a standout vehicle or just another ho-hum utility? It’s spacious, comfortable, efficient and even stylish. But it’s also got some flaws. It’s death by a thousand cuts. In all honesty there are more compelling crossovers on the market right now, a couple of which are even in Toyota’s own showroom.

  • Doug Fisher

    The dome light issue is a real pain. Constantly falling down in ours.

  • steve ganis

    I can buy a fully loaded 2011 Venza V6 AWD, 47K miles, for just less than $20K. For about same money, could buy a 2011 RAV 4 V6 AWD. We have the Toyota Solara Convertible, looking to replace the 5 passenger Pathfinder. We have to test drive both cars, but they’re at different dealers, different areas. Anyone have opions as to which is the better deal.

« Back
SWEEPSTAKES – OFFICIAL RULES, TERMS AND CONDITIONS

AutoGuide.com’s Monthly Overlay Newsletter Signup – By subscribing to our email newsletter, Entrants are eligible to win one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card (value of $100.00 USD). One (1) winner will be chosen every month at random and contacted by VerticalScope Inc.’s staff. *Amazon.com is not a sponsor of this promotion. Except as required by law, Amazon.com Gift Cards ("GCs") cannot be transferred for value or redeemed for cash. GCs may be used only for purchases of eligible goods at Amazon.com or certain of its affiliated websites. For complete terms and conditions, see www.amazon.com/gc-legal. GCs are issued by ACI Gift Cards, Inc., a Washington corporation. All Amazon ®, ™ & © are IP of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. No expiration date or service fees.

1. NO PURCHASE OR PAYMENT OF ANY KIND IS NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN THIS SWEEPSTAKES. AGE/RESIDENCY RESTRICTIONS, VOID WHERE PROHIBITED.

2. PRIZE: One (1) Winner will be randomly selected every month to each receive: one (1) $100.00 Amazon.com Gift Card (the “Prize Supplier”). Total approximate retail value of all prizes is approximately $100.00 USD. Prizes are not transferable and no cash or prize substitution is allowed. Prize package is awarded "as is" with no warranty or guarantee, either express or implied.

3. ELIGIBILITY: From the time of entry through the final date of prize fulfillment, each contest entrant and selected entrant must be a permanent lawful citizen and resident residing in the 50 United States or the District of Columbia or in Canada, and be twenty one (21) years of age or older. VOID IN PUERTO RICO, THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS, IN ALL FOREIGN COUNTRIES OUTSIDE OF THE UNITED STATES, AND ALL OTHER U.S. TERRITORIES OR CANADA AND POSSESSIONS AND WHERE PROHIBITED OR RESTRICTED BY LAW. Employees, officers, directors, agents and representatives, of the Sponsor and the Prize Supplier and each of their respective parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries, advertising and promotion agencies, promotion partners and any entity involved in the development, production, implementation, administration or fulfillment of this Sweepstakes, and the immediate family members (e.g., spouse, mother, father, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, grandparent, in-law, daughter and son, regardless of where they live) and persons living in the same household (whether or not related) of such individuals are not eligible to participate or win. Only one selected entrant per household. All decisions of the Sponsor with respect to this sweepstakes are final. The Sponsor shall have the right at any time to require proof of identity and failure to provide such proof may result in disqualification from the Sweepstakes.

4. ENTER BY INTERNET: You may enter this sweepstakes via the Internet by logging onto AutoGuide.com and subscribing to our email newsletter via the pop-up overlay.

5. SELECTION OF WINNER: One (1) Entrant will be selected by random selection who have subscribed to our email newsletter. The winner may be announced publicly on AutoGuide.com and will be contacted by VerticalScope Inc.’s staff. The winner will be required to provide a mailing address (that is not a P.O. box) to receive the prize which will be shipped free of charge.

6. ODDS OF WINNING: Odds of winning a prize are determined by the total number of eligible entries received.

7. RESTRICTIONS: The prize package consists of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card with an approximate value of $100.00 USD. If prize cannot be awarded due to circumstances beyond the control of the Sponsor or Prize Supplier, no substitute prize will be awarded due to the unique nature of the prize. Sponsor and Prize Supplier shall not be liable to the winner or any person claiming through winner for failure to supply the prize or any part thereof, by reason of any acts of God, any action(s), regulation(s), order(s) or request(s) by any governmental or quasi-governmental entity (whether or not the action(s), regulations(s), order(s) or request(s) prove(s) to be invalid), equipment failure, utility failure, internet failure, terrorist acts, threatened terrorist acts, air raid, blackout, act of public enemy, earthquake, war (declared or undeclared), fire, flood, epidemic, explosion, unusually severe weather, hurricane, embargo, labor dispute or strike (whether legal or illegal) labor or material shortage, transportation interruption of any kind, work slow-down, civil disturbance, insurrection, riot, or any other cause beyond Sponsor's or Prize Supplier's control (collectively, "Force Majeure Event"). Sponsor shall not be responsible for any cancellations, delays, diversions or substitutions or any act or omissions whatsoever by the performers/events, other transportation companies or any other persons providing any of these services and accommodations to passengers including any results thereof such as changes in services or accommodations necessitated by same.

8. CONDITIONS: By entering the Sweepstakes, entrants agree to be bound by the Official Rules, Terms and Conditions and that Sponsor has the irrevocable right to use in perpetuity entrants' names, user names, likenesses, photographs, voices, home mailing address, biographical and prize information, and entry materials, without notice to entrants and without compensation or obligation, in any and all media now or hereafter known throughout the world, in any manner whatsoever, to advertise and promote Sponsor, its products and services, the Sweepstakes, and for any other purpose except where prohibited by law. Entrant waives the right to assert as a cost of winning a prize any and all costs of verification and redemption or travel to redeem said prize and any liability which might arise from redeeming or seeking to redeem said prize. Sponsor is not responsible for fraudulent calls or emails made to entrants not by the Sponsor. If the Sweepstakes is not capable of running as planned by reason of damage by computer viruses, worms or bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical limitations or failures, any Force Majeure Event or any other cause which, in the sole opinion of Sponsor, could corrupt, compromise, undermine or otherwise affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity, viability or proper conduct of the Sweepstakes, Sponsor reserves the right, in its sole and absolute discretion, to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend all or any part of the Sweepstakes, and to select a winner from among all eligible entries received by Sponsor up until the time of such cancellation, termination, modification or suspension, as applicable. Sponsor reserves the right in its sole discretion to disqualify any individual that (i) tampers or attempts to tamper with the entry process or the operations of this Sweepstakes in any manner, (ii) violates the Official Rules, Terms and Conditions or (iii) acts in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner, or with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any other person. CAUTION: ANY ATTEMPT BY AN ENTRANT OR ANY OTHER INDIVIDUAL TO DELIBERATELY DAMAGE OR UNDERMINE THE LEGITIMATE OPERATION OF THIS SWEEPSTAKES IS A VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAWS. SHOULD SUCH AN ATTEMPT BE MADE, SPONSOR RESERVES THE RIGHT TO SEEK CIVIL AND/OR CRIMINAL PROSECUTION AND/OR DAMAGES FROM ANY SUCH PERSON TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW. Any expenses and receipt and use of the prize and federal, state and local taxes and fees applicable in connection with the prize awarded are the sole responsibility of the winner. An IRS Form 1099 will be issued in the name of the winner for the actual value of the prize received. This Sweepstakes is subject to all federal, state and local laws of the United States. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED. Sponsor, Prize Supplier, and their respective officers, directors, parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries and advertising and promotion agencies, employees, representatives and agents are not responsible for and shall not be liable for (i) any injuries, losses or damages of any kind caused by a prize resulting from acceptance, possession or usage of the prize, or (ii) printing, distribution or production errors. Sponsor or its affiliates may rescind any promotion found to contain such errors without liability at its or their sole discretion.

9. SPONSOR: The Sponsor of this contest is VerticalScope Inc. (the owner and operator of AutoGuide.com), 111 Peter Street, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, M5V 2H1.

Subscribe to our email newsletter and automatically be entered to win.
*Restrictions apply. See offer for details

Get Breaking Automotive News, Reviews and Video in your Facebook Feed!

Already Liked