The Toyota Venza Is Dead: Here's Why

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain

A Camry wagon sounds ideal. On paper.

But Toyota’s announcement that the Venza will be discontinued follows U.S. sales declines in four of the last five years. Venza volume peaked in the model’s first full year at 54,410 units. Two years later, in 2011, Venza sales slid 28%. Last year, U.S. Venza volume was barely more than half what it was in 2009.

In a Toyota showroom chock-full of SUVs and crossovers – RAV4, Highlander, 4Runner, FJ Cruiser, Land Cruiser, Sequoia – and a close relation at Lexus, the RX, routinely outselling all premium SUV/CUV nameplates, the Venza was tasked with too great a challenge: carve out a niche for a brand which already has all corners covered, but not too small a niche.

Meanwhile, the Camry continued to prove successful at generating sales activity in the mainstream, with increased sales in 2012, 2013, and 2014, all years in which Venza volume declined.

The Venza lacks the Highlander’s third row and, in recent times, operated with a base price 23% higher than the RAV4’s. The standard 2.7L, 181-horsepower inline-four is tasked with propelling 3800+ pounds. And while the Subaru Outback’s success leads many to believe that there’s room in a corridor between traditional cars and utility vehicles, the Venza and far less common ( and similarly discontinued) Honda Crosstour consistently imply otherwise. (Other two-row utility vehicles like the Ford Edge and Nissan Murano sell far more often than the Venza.)

Aside from the car’s low U.S. sales volume, the cancellation of the Venza will open up greater production capacity for more popular vehicles built at the same Kentucky site, Toyota’s Avalon and Camry, the latter being America’s best-selling car.

But if the Venza had proven sufficiently popular, Toyota wouldn’t need to rely on the Highlander and RAV4 to generate the volume to make up for Venza losses. Aside from August 2009’s Cash For Clunkers-empowered 8435-unit performance, Toyota USA only sold more than 5000 Venzas in four different months: July, October, and December 2009 and March 2010. Average monthly volume since 2011 fell below 3100 units.

Subaru sold more than 10,000 Outbacks per month during the same period.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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  • Lightspeed Lightspeed on Apr 13, 2015

    I owned a Malibu Maxx, and when the Venza debuted I thought, "Yep, trust Toyota to take a good idea like the Maxx and do it right." Which, they mostly did. I think to be a 2-row vehicle, it needs to be overtly sporting or lux/sport in character (Does anyone really use 3-rows though?). The Venza may have carved a bigger niche as a Lexus, in fact I'm surprised there wasn't a Lexus version.

  • Jbarsoti Jbarsoti on Aug 26, 2016

    I own a Camery 2000 and we needed a second car for our family. We really wanted a diesel station wagon but the only option in our price range was a Jetta. That car is a waste of money in my opinion. Seeing the Venza was like the perfect surprise for me. I did not want SUV or a Subaru. I am very happy I grabbed a brand new 2011 Venza and I am very pleased with this car. Knowing toyotas really gives a good ROI if you just maintain it right. For me it's a station wagon not an SUV. It is annoying not having many Hondas and toyotas option of station wagon like in Europe, but the American market is different. This is my two cents.

  • JK I grew up with Dodge trucks in the US, and now live in Turin, Italy, the home of Fiat. I don't think Italians view this as an Italian company either. There are constant news articles and protests about how stalantis is moving operations out of Italy. Jeep is strangely popular here though. I think last time I looked at stelantis's numbers, Jeep was the only thing saving them from big big problems.
  • Bd2 Oh yeah, funny how Trumpers (much less the Orange Con, himself) are perfectly willing to throw away the Constitution...
  • Bd2 Geeze, Anal sure likes to spread his drivelA huge problem was Fisher and his wife - who overspent when they were flush with cash and repeatedly did things ad hoc and didn't listen to their employees (who had more experience when it came to auto manufacturing, engineering, etc).
  • Tassos My Colleague Mike B bought one of these (the 300 SEL, same champagne color) new around June 1990. I thought he paid $50k originally but recently he told me it was $62k. At that time my Accord 1990 Coupe LX cost new, all included, $15k. So today the same car means $150k for the S class and $35k-40k for the Accord. So those %0 or 62k , these were NOT worthless, Idiot Joe Biden devalued dollars, so he paid AN ARM AND A LEG. And he babied the car, he really loved it, despite its very weak I6 engine with a mere 177 HP and 188 LBFT, and kept it forever. By the time he asked me to drive it (to take him to the dealer because his worthless POS Buick Rainier "SUV" needed expensive repairs (yes, it was a cheap Buick but he had to shell out thousands), the car needed a lot of suspension work, it drove like an awful clunker. He ended up donating it after 30 years or so. THIS POS is no different, and much older. Its CHEAPSKATE owner should ALSO donate it to charity instead of trying to make a few measly bucks off its CARCASS. Pathetic!
  • RHD The re-paint looks like it was done with a four-inch paintbrush. As far as VWs go, it's a rebadged Seat... which is still kind of a VW, made in Mexico from a Complete Knock-Down kit. 28 years in Mexico being driven like a flogged mule while wearing that ridiculous rear spoiler is a tough life, but it has actually survived... It's unique (to us), weird, funky (very funky), and certainly not worth over five grand plus the headaches of trying to get it across the border and registered at the local DMV.
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