The Truth About Cars » Toyota Venza http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sun, 19 Oct 2014 11:58:25 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Toyota Venza http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Toyota Recalls 870,000 Units Due To Arachnophobia http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/toyota-recalls-870000-units-due-to-arachnophobia/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/toyota-recalls-870000-units-due-to-arachnophobia/#comments Sat, 19 Oct 2013 16:07:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=627250 One blah Monday morning, you’re commuting to the anonymous office park some 90 minutes away from the bedroom community you call a home in your equally anonymous Toyota Camry Hybrid, listening to yet another story about Congress kicking cans down roads and/or some wacky antics your favorite DJs had the past weekend while you take […]

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2012 Toyota Camry

One blah Monday morning, you’re commuting to the anonymous office park some 90 minutes away from the bedroom community you call a home in your equally anonymous Toyota Camry Hybrid, listening to yet another story about Congress kicking cans down roads and/or some wacky antics your favorite DJs had the past weekend while you take another swig of that mermaid-branded caffeinated goodness.

 

You’re not ready to deal with the myriad of reports you have to work on when you arrive at the office, and you’re certainly not ready for your colleague to rant about how his fantasy football team lost because one of his players sustained a career-ending injury on the first snap, but at least the piling traffic ahead of you seems to be delaying the inevitable, much to your mix of relief and chagrin.

Tired of being stuck behind the Dunkin’ Donuts truck (reminding you that you really need to hit the gym someday), you edge over to the (not really) faster moving lane on your left while wishing you could use the HOV lane at times like this when suddenly your airbag explodes, causing you to bash your alleged green machine into a Greyhound bus, kicking off a chain reaction that will take hours by the state police and first responders to sort out. You also make the news when the strangely chipper real-time traffic reporter chimes in about the wreck, which then leads to how Rockin’ Robin DeCradle “got totally wrecked” at the Waffle House of Blues this weekend.

Turns out the cause of your airbag going off was spiders, which you find out later that day when the local news reports that Toyota has issued a recall (again), affecting 870,000 vehicles including the one now residing in an insurance salvage yard that you, no doubt, are going to have a hard time collecting anything upon.

According to CNN Money, the 870,000 Toyotas are Camrys, Venzas and Avalons screwed together and sold for the 2012 and 2013 model years, hybrids included. The recall notice states that the webs spiders make within the confines of a drainage tube attached to the car’s AC unit could force water to drip onto the airbag’s control module, creating a short circuit followed by the airbag warning light (and the driver’s side airbag itself) going off. To make matters worse, the same issue can lead to loss of power steering, as well.

Toyota spokesperson Cindy Knight said that the company was aware of the spider issue, noting that 35 cases of the lights coming on and 3 airbag deployments have come to pass thus far, and the consistent cause of the problem were the eight-legged freaks who, for some reason, love making webs in AC drainage tubes.

The recall recommends owners take their cars in to their nearest dealer, who will then make the necessary repairs (and calls to the Orkin Man) to prevent water from causing unintended airbag deployments. The notice will be sent by mail, and the repairs will be on the house.

A similar issue affected Mazda back in 2011, when spiders set up shop in the vent lines of many a Mazda6’s gasoline tank, proving once again that nature is so fascinating.

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Review: 2013 Toyota Venza (Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/review-2013-toyota-venza-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/review-2013-toyota-venza-video/#comments Mon, 25 Feb 2013 14:00:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=477702 Our recent looks at the Ford Edge Ecoboost and GMC Terrain prompted an email from a reader asking us to take a look at the 2013 Toyota Venza with these two American entries in mind. If you have a request or suggestion for a vehicle review, just click the contact link at the top of […]

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Our recent looks at the Ford Edge Ecoboost and GMC Terrain prompted an email from a reader asking us to take a look at the 2013 Toyota Venza with these two American entries in mind. If you have a request or suggestion for a vehicle review, just click the contact link at the top of the page, or find us on Facebook and drop us a note.

Click here to view the embedded video.

The Venza landed as a 2009 model year vehicle with a confusing mission: slot between the 7-seat RAV-4 and the 7-Seat Highlander as a 5-seat mid-sized crossover. The Lexus RX imitating shape of the Venza caused further confusion and the dimensions didn’t help either since the Venza is longer than the Highlander. Of course, that hasn’t stopped Toyota from shifting around 45,000 Venzas a year in America. If you think that number sounds low, you’re right. Ford sold 128,000 Edges and GM pumped out a whopping 316,000 soft-roaders between the Equinox and the Terrain.

Exterior

While many crossovers try to hide passenger car roots with boxy wheel arches truck-inspired grilles, the Venza is more open about its sedan origins. Think of the Venza as a modern Camry wagon. If you want a crossover that looks more butch, opt for the closely related Highlander. Just remember it is no more capable off-road than the Venza since they share engines, transmissions, AWD systems and have identical 8.1-inch ride heights. While the side and 3/4 profiles scream Lexus RX to me, the Venza shares incredibly little with the Lexus, for better or worse.

For 2013 Toyota has given the Venza a mild facelift grafting their corporate three-bar grille to the four-year old profile. Aside from the nose job the changes are fairly mild and boil down to new wheels, light modules, paint colors, and a few additional base features. While not a change to the Venza, the new RAV4 is no longer available in a 7-seat version making the Venza’s position in the lineup easier to understand.

Despite the tweaking, I find the Ford and GM crossovers more visually exciting, especially the GMC Terrain with its mini-truck clothes job. The Ford Edge is blander, but somehow manages a less controversial front bumper than the Venza. The American options are slightly larger but actually less capable off road since they have notably lower ground clearances. Before you flame in the comment section, I’m not discounting the CX-7, Satta Fe or Murano, but this is a somewhat large segment and our reader request asked specifically about a GM/Ford/Toyota shootout. (If we did drop those three into the mix the Santa Fe would have been given my nod in the looks department.)

Interior

The Venza’s interior is starting to show its age more than the competition. With a decidedly asymmetrical design, a dashboard mounted shifter and a somewhat boring gauge cluster, the Venza failed to push many of the right buttons for me aesthetically. Of course style is subjective so I’d like to know your thoughts below. On a functional level, the dashboard layout ranks low on my scale because of the three-display theme where the clock, thermometer, trip computer and climate readout are set high in the dashboard on a small LCD. In addition to this functional setback there is plenty of hard plastic in the cabin leaving the Venza at the back of the pack in terms of haptic bliss. You won’t find the RAV4’s stitched pleather dash bits in the Venza, and strangely enough we didn’t find Toyota’s usual attention to detail either. Our tester’s dashboard had some ill-fitting trim and speaker grills which bugged me all week. Hopefully Toyota will refresh the Venza’s interior soon, although if you have kids that are rough on cars, hard plastic might be what you need, it holds up better in the long run.

For 2013, all Venza models get a power driver’s seat and dual-zone climate control standard. Should you opt for the higher trim levels, Toyota will toss in a power passenger throne as well. Regardless of your trim level and fabric choice, the Venza’s seats aren’t as comfortable on long car trips as the competition. Nobody in this segment provides a huge range of motion or much lateral bolstering in their front seats but the Venza’s seemed particularly flat and thin. With any vehicle purchase, try to get a long test drive or extended seat time at the dealer lot. Spend time in the seats to decide which vehicle is better at keeping your sciatica at bay.

The modern crossover is the spiritual successor to the station wagon and minivan. This shows in the back with thoughtful touches like reclining seat backs, available rear seat entertainment systems that have dual independent DVD players, fairly good visibility and seat bottom cushions that are fairly low to the floor. The low seat cushions mean that adults on long car trips may find their legs need a bit more support but kids will be happier with the seating position.

All Venzas swallow 36 cubic feet of IKEA purchases, notably larger than the American competition despite the fact that the Ford an GM CUVs are longer than the Venza. While the rear seats fold completely flat, the front passenger seat doesn’t fold making it harder to get long and bulky items inside. An important item overlooked by some CUV reviews is the payload capacity. The Venza’s 825lbs rating is adequate for four American-sized guys and a French poodle, while the Terrain’s 1,146lb payload could accommodate the same four dudes and 60 bricks from Home Depot. Not that either shopper is likely to encounter the latter situation.

Infotainment

Venzas start out with Toyota’s easy-to-use “Display Audio” system which features a 6.1-inch touchscreen LCD, USD/iDevice integration and Bluetooth streaming and speakerphone. The base system is easy to use and allows full access of your music device via the on-screen commands. Optional on base Venza models and standard on XLE and Limited is Toyota’s Entune software. Entune is analogous to Ford’s SYNC product, something we’ve seen for ages allowing the same level of voice command interaction with your music device and other aspects of the audio system. Entune’s voice responses are more polished than Ford’s thanks to its more recent design. Response times are snappy and the system’s accuracy was equal to the other systems on the market. Entune also allows smartphone app integration with the system so you can use the radio interface to control your Pandora streaming, search Bing for destinations and make reservations via Open Table. Originally compatible only with iOS devices, the system is now fully functional with most current Android devices.

Base and XLE buyers also have the option of adding on Toyota’s basic navigation software which acts like an “app” on the system and uses your smartphone for traffic and weather data rather than a satellite subscription service. The downside? You can’t access these services without a smartphone, so if you haven’t joined the 21st century and are still using a Motorola StarTac, you won’t be able Bing while you roll.  The audio quality from the base speaker package is merely average, if you care about your tunes XLE models can be had with the  $1,850 premium package which adds 13 JBL speakers (including a subwoofer) and a power moonroof.

Venza Limited models come standard with the up-level JBL speakers but strangely use an entirely different 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system. The 7-inch system should be familiar with any late model Toyota or Lexus owners as this is essentially the same software they have used for some time. The larger system uses a hard drive for navigation data and has a larger pre-programmed database built in. Toyota has updated this system to allow the same Entune app integration and music device voice control as the lower-end unit, but there’s a catch. If you want traffic data to show on this navigation screen you’ll need an XM Nav Traffic subscription since it won’t pull the data via your smartphone.

Compared to MyFord Touch, the Venza’s systems all have smaller touchscreens and lack the visual polish of Ford’s system. Entune doesn’t offer Ford’s easy-to-use voice text messaging assistant, the dual LCDs in the gauge cluster or the ability to voice command your climate control. In Toyota’s defense, Entune didn’t crash or freeze during our week (unlike MyFord Touch). Does that make Ford the winner here? No, that goes to GM with their new touchscreen infotainment system that beats both systems in terms of response, graphics and the smoothness of the voice command interactions.

Drivetrain

While the competition is toying with boosted four cylinder engines, Toyota sticks with a more traditional four/six cylinder lineup for the Venza. The base engine in all trims is the same 2.7L four-cylinder engine as the Highlander and Sienna. Cranking out 181HP and 182lb-ft of torque the four cylinder scores 20MPG City, 26 Highway and 23MPG combined in FWD form and 20/26/22 when equipped with Toyota’s AWD system.

Should you need more shove, Toyota offers their ubiquitous 3.5L V6 for $1,820. This isn’t Toyota’s direct-injection six, but it does get dual variable valve timing to churn out 268HP at 6,200RPM and 248lb-ft of twist at 4,700RPM. Like the 2.7L engine the V6 is mated to Toyota’s 6-speed automatic transaxle. The extra shove may cost you more initially but it won’t cost you much at the pump with the FWD V6 having an identical highway mileage score and dropping only one MPG in the city. Add AWD and the numbers drop to 18/25/21 according to the EPA.

If you live in the snow belt, the optional AWD will set you back $1,450 with either engine. The system worked well on gravel roads and slick, leaf-covered back country lanes, but is decidedly slip-and-grip in feel. From a standstill in the Ford and GM crossovers, planting your foot on the throttle is a drama-free experience as the AWD system acts immediately preventing wheel spin in most circumstances. The Venza on the other hand one-wheel-peels for a short while before the system sends power to the back. While this arrangement is slightly less refined, it is unlikely to cause much of a problem en route to the ski resort.

Let’s be honest, nobody buys crossovers or SUVs for their on-road prowess. Of course that puts the crossover in something of a pickle since, unlike an SUV, they aren’t designed for off road use either. Rather the modern crossover is trying to be everything to everyone, the perfect family hauler, cargo schlepper, weekend ski shuttle,  and commuter car all while trying desperately to look like anything other than a minivan or station wagon. The result with the Venza is a fairly tall, softly spring crossover with a fuel efficient V6 engine and optional AWD. While far from sloppy out on the back roads, the Venza tips, dives and rolls more than my sedan-biased preferences care for. Compared to the GMC Terrain, the Venza feels far less composed and despite being smaller than the GMC, it feels much larger on the road. GM’s 3.6L direct-injection V6 delivers 301HP and 272lb-ft of torque and the difference is noticeable on the road and at the pump with V6 AWD Terrain only serving up 16/23MPG. Meanwhile the Edge’s optional 3.5L V6 lands in the middle in terms of power and economy.

Our V6 AWD Limited tester rang in a $41,904 which is a few hundred more than a comparably equipped Ford Edge but $3,639 more than a comparably equipped GMC Terrain while the Equinox is a bit cheaper still. This placed my final ranking as follows: GMC Terrain, Ford Edge, Chevrolet Equinox and lastly the Toyota Venza. While I wouldn’t rank the Venza last in the entire segment, its age is starting to show and without some attention from Toyota to the interior quality and feel issues, the Venza will continue to sell largely on its reputation for reliable and dependable service.

 

 Toyota provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review

Specifications as tested

0-30: 2.2 Seconds

0-60: 6.3 Seconds

 1/4 Mile: 14.9 Seconds at 93 MPH

Average Observed Fuel Economy: 21.5MPG over 658 Miles

2013 Toyota Venza Limited, Exterior, Front 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Venza Limited, Exterior, Side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Venza Limited, Exterior, Wheels, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Venza Limited, Exterior, Front, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Venza Limited, Exterior, Front, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Venza Limited, Exterior, Front, 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Venza Limited, Exterior, Rear 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Venza Limited, Exterior, Rear, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Venza Limited, Exterior, Rear, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Venza Limited, Exterior, Rear, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Venza Limited, Interior, Gauges, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Venza Limited, Interior, Gauges, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Venza Limited, Interior, Cargo Area, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Venza Limited, Interior, Cargo Area, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Venza Limited, Interior, Dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Venza Limited, Interior, Steering Wheel, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Venza Limited, Interior, Steering Wheel, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Venza Limited, Interior, Steering Wheel, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Venza Limited, Interior, Dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Venza Limited, Interior, Center Console, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Venza Limited, Infotainment, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Venza Limited, Infotainment, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Venza Limited, Infotainment, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Venza Limited, Infotainment, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Venza Limited, Interior, Rear Seat Entertainment, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Venza Limited, Interior, Front Seats and Dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Venza Limited, Interior, Rear Seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Venza Limited, Interior, Rear Seats Folded, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Venza Limited, Interior, Rear Seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Venza Limited, Interior, Center Console, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Venza Limited, Engine, 3.5L V6, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Venza Limited, Engine, 3.5L V6, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Venza Limited, Engine, 3.5L V6, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Toyota Venza Limited, Interior, Dash Display, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Comparison Review: Toyota Venza Versus Honda Crosstour: First Place: Honda Crosstour http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/01/comparison-review-toyota-venza-versus-honda-crosstour-first-place-honda-crosstour/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/01/comparison-review-toyota-venza-versus-honda-crosstour-first-place-honda-crosstour/#comments Fri, 22 Jan 2010 14:34:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=342662 What is the purpose of the Crosstour? I asked as I waited for my test car to be readied. Pause. Finally an answer, The Crosstour is now the high-end Accord. It is designed to compete with the Toyota Venza. Ah, I get it: monkey see monkey do. What better way to give the marque a […]

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What is the purpose of the Crosstour? I asked as I waited for my test car to be readied. Pause. Finally an answer, The Crosstour is now the high-end Accord. It is designed to compete with the Toyota Venza. Ah, I get it: monkey see monkey do. What better way to give the marque a kick in the shorts than to pinch an idea from the market leader. And so they did. Almost. Partly. Sort of.

The most complementary thing that can be said about the Crosstour is that it is an Accord Coupe stretched to accommodate a second pair of doors. Bumper to bumper, it embodies a sportiness that is entirely lacking in the entirely too practical Venza. That’s not to say that the Crosstour is a hardened ‘bahn burner. Or that it isn’t a practical mobile for the modern family. Let’s just say that the car has a little of that magic that made earlier generations of the Accord sedan a good deal more satisfying to drive than your average family car.

My crystal black pearl colored Accord Crosstour EX looks longer, lower and wider than the Venza. In this case, looks are deceiving. While it is almost 8 inches longer, Crosstour is in fact 2.3 inches taller. The proportions are, of course, drastically different. While the Venza is an upright and boxy wagon, the hood of the Crosstour is long and low followed by a steeply raked windshield and, lastly, a big thick bootie. In profile it casts a silhouette that is, dare I say it, not unlike the Porsche Panamera. If for no other reason, you can see the Crosstour’s sporting aspirations in the 12 inch brake rotors glinting between the spokes of the rear wheels. 

The penalties for the sleek exterior proportions are, of course, on the inside. With the rear seats upright, the cargo area is just 25.7 cu.ft. (51.3 cu.ft. with the seats folded). On paper that’s 4.4 cu.ft. smaller than Venza. In reality the difference is greater because much of the added cargo capacity created by the fastback design is an awkward space below the long sloping rear window. However, the space is infinitely more accessible than the pinched and restrictive sedan trunk because the entire rear window lifts up and out of the way.

Honda made the most of the rear space by replacing the spare tire wheel well with a commodious removable storage bin. The spare tire has been relocated up underneath the car in a retractable compartment, the bottom of which is streamlined to help undercarriage aerodynamics.

The dash is elegantly and intuitively laid out with outstanding ergonomics – with the exception of one grotesque flaw. The power outlet, auxiliary audio jack and USB port are located deep under the armrest at the back of the center console.

In a break from past Accord practice, the cabin is spooky quiet. Like a fastidious librarian, the Active Sound Control system utilizes the audio system to detect and shush unwanted noise frequencies before they reach your ears.

Only the sound of the high-strung 3.5 liter V6 engine is allowed to intrude for the entertainment of the driver. In classic Honda fashion, the drive train is tuned to keep the crankshaft whirling like a Dervish on crank, spending much of its time between 3500 and 4500 rpm in pedestrian stop and go traffic driving, about 500-800 rpms higher than the Toyota at any given speed. That means terrific responsiveness because you are almost always driving right in the meat of the engine’s power band. Additionally, the decisive 5-speed transmission tenaciously holds the correct gear when cornering.

To keep the inevitable fuel consumption of all of this revving in check, the engine is equipped with Variable Cylinder Management that deactivates two when cruising or three cylinders while coasting. At an estimated 18/27 mpg, Crosstour is 1 mpg worse than Venza in town but a tick better on the highway.

The ride quality of all of the new Accord models is outstanding, but the Crosstour gets the added benefit of sport tuning. More so than the drive train, these suspension tweaks have restored the trademark liveliness that Accord drivers have come to expect from Honda, but is missing from the lower trim models of the current generation. In sum, the car feels lighter and faster.

If cargo capacity were the only consideration the Toyota Venza would win hands down. However, the Crosstour offers greater-than-sedan utility while delivering superior handling and performance to any Camry, Venza, or current Accord sedan. Across the spectrum of options, the Crosstour cost four to five thousand dollars less than the comparably equipped Venza. When the Accord platform took on its current Giganto dimensions, it seemed that Honda gave up on giving its devotees a spirited driving experience. With the Crosstour the Honda Accord is back.

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