Toyota’s all-new Venza fills a two-row, crossover-sized void between the smaller RAV4 and the larger Highlander, and is essentially a return to what the Highlander was originally. To help draw in buyers to its resurrected nameplate, Toyota decided to use a long-standing Subaru ad trope: the family pet.
The Venza was an interesting product for Toyota. With the benefit of hindsight, we can agree it was a model just slightly ahead of its time.
A car-based, ever-so-mildly upscale crossover with two rows of seating and a choice of powertrains, the Venza offered buyers a more stylish alternative to the smaller RAV4 and midsize Highlander. Alas, the model ended its six-year run in 2015.
Well… it’s back.
Maybe they should have called it the Toyota Camry SportWagon.
Maybe it wouldn’t have made a hint of a difference.
The first-generation Toyota Venza lingered for seven model years in the United States, ending its run with MY2015 before managing to collect 593 sales since, including four in January 2017. (They’re not easy to clear out, apparently.)
But the end of the Venza’s U.S. run in June 2015 was not the end for the Venza in America. Venza production at the Georgetown, Kentucky, assembly plant continued through the first 11 months of 2016 because of insatiable Canadian demand.
Well, now that demand has been sated. The Toyota Venza is officially dead. Kaput. Gone. Defunct.
Did it have to be this way?
The Canadian new vehicle market is not merely a mini-representation of the U.S. auto industry. Full-size pickup trucks own a significantly larger percentage of the Canadian market, for example, and Canadians are nearly three times more likely to buy a Toyota Corolla than a Toyota Camry.
The Canadian market can, however, be a useful test bed.
Some new vehicle pass the test, such as the BMW X1 which enjoyed 16 fruitful months in Canada before grabbing a slice of the American pie. Others, such as the Chevrolet Orlando, wilt under the pressure of the Ontario-built Dodge Grand Caravan, endure a brief four-year run, and never even get a chance to make it in America.
Other cars aren’t prone on a test bed, they’re simply the response of different automakers to different markets. We already looked at seven U.S.-market vehicles which don’t make their way through the Detroit Windsor Tunnel. These are the eight current vehicles which are marketed in Canada, not the United States. ( We’ve already examined the seven cars Americans can buy that Canadians can’t.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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