The 2009 Toyota Venza is a fantastic example of how schizophrenic the situation has become for automakers. Ostensibly sold as a crossover, the Venza could easily be mistaken for a minivan if approached from the front thanks to its tall greenhouse and wide stance. However, the bulky wide grin of its multi-layered grille gives it away as more than just a standard people mover, as do its four-doors and beefy wheel arches.
Powered by either a 182 horsepower, 2.7 liter 4-cylinder engine or a 3.5 liter V6 putting out a lively 268 horsepower and 246 lb-ft of torque, the Venza has more than enough grunt to not only keep up with the pace of traffic but also make highway passing a breeze. With optional all-wheel drive and a 6-speed automatic transmission, this is one crossover that maintains a steady grip on the road even under hard acceleration.
The Venza also has direct ties to one of Toyota’s best sedans, sharing its basic platform with the popular Camry. This means that the crossover drives much better than any minivan could ever aspire to, despite its mid-size footprint and tall stance, and while it is certainly no sports car the vehicle acquits itself well through tight corners with little of the body movement associated with larger vans and SUV’s.
The 2009 Toyota Venza is designed to seat 5 passengers instead of 7, and the difference is much more interior room than most buyers might typically expect. Accommodations are comfortable, and the Venza comes loaded with a full complement of standard equipment: dual automatic climate controls, and MP3-capable stereo system, cruise control, and power everything. There are a few upgrades available, such as a leather package that adorns the seats and steering wheel with a tasteful cowhide. A backup camera and a towing package are also on the options list, although the maximum weight that can be pulled by the crossover tops out at around 3,500 lbs.
Most people aren’t buying the Venza in order to haul around a heavy load, however – they are interested in its good comfort, excellent power, and the available utility that will let them occasionally tow a small jet ski or camping trailer. In this respect, the Venza succeeds as a vehicle which provides drivers with the versatility and convenience they need with the fun to drive aspect that most crave. It has taken quite some time for so-called ‘lifestyle’ vehicles to actually reflect what many buyers are looking for, but the Venza appears to hit all of the right notes.