Is the 2014 Toyota Venza a sedan, a crossover, a wagon, or an SUV? Venza is really all of them rolled up into one multi-use vehicle. It doesn’t really fit into any category or segment, but is a unique type of vehicle from Toyota. It’s really only comparable with the Honda Crosstour, but has much better styling on the outside. This week we’ll be testing the 2014 Toyota Venza Limited model with a V6 powerplant and AWD.
The Toyota Venza feels like a sedan from behind the wheel, but behind the front seats, it offers the cargo space of an SUV. It offers the utility of a crossover or SUV because of the rear hatch, yet it sits lower with a lower loading floor than an SUV. It features the five-door body style like a wagon for easy cargo-carrying ability. Venza will seat five adults comfortably and this AWD Venza comes with all-weather capabilities.
What’s new for 2014?
The 2014 Venza carries over pretty much unchanged from 2013, but this Limited tester gets new front and rear parking sensors. The XLE trim gets power-folding mirrors for 2014. Venza received refreshed styling last year (2013) and got some new added standard and optional features. This 2014 Toyota Venza is the top of the lineup model with lots of goodies.
The Limited trim level ($39,570) we’re testing includes the Premium package items plus bi-xenon headlights, automatic high beams, LED running lights, front and rear parking sensors, and an upgraded navigation system with a higher-resolution 7-inch touchscreen display. There is a tow package available ($220) on all V6-powered Venzas for those wanting to use this wagon as a recreational vehicle. Although, we don’t see this as a good off-road vehicle. Venza is built on the platform of the previous-generation (2007-2011) Camry, and rides more like a sedan and sits too low and isn’t suitable for anything other than light recreational use.
On the inside, Venza Limited feels upscale with its leather heated seats and navigation system with Entune. This allows you to connect to a smartphone via Bluetooth. It allows you to control Pandora Internet radio, buy movie tickets or reserve a restaurant table through the car’s touchscreen. But the downside to Entune is getting started. You’ll need to install an app on your smartphone, and register for an account before you can use it.
Why would buyers choose the Venza?
The 2014 Toyota Venza offers the utility of a wagon and offers the cargo carrying abilities of an SUV. It would be a good family car for hauling kids to soccer games, pets and groceries. And it’s a good commuter that isn’t too big to maneuver in the city. Venza drives like a car and is easy to park. Inside, Venza is spacious and comfortable for daily driving needs. It can also be used on the weekends as a recreational vehicle. Its all-wheel-drive capabilities make it a good multi-use vehicle for weekend trips to the mountains for hiking and trial biking.
This tester came with the 3.5-liter V6 engine mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. The V6 pumps out a respectable 268 horsepower and 246 pound-feet of torque and is rated at 18/25 mpg city/highway with all-wheel drive. Out on the road, the V6 was plenty powerful enough to get the crossover up the mountain loaded with four adults.
We experienced a six-inch snowfall during the test week, and this Venza equipped with AWD felt extremely stable on the slick wet snowy roads. The low car-like ride height contributes to the stability and is a plus compared to higher SUVs that can feel unstable in the corners. But it does provide a higher seat height for better visibility over a sedan.
This tester came with the larger 20-inch wheels but the Venza 4-wheel independent suspension smoothed out the rough roads we encountered in a construction zone heading up I-70 into the mountains. The passengers in the backseat commented on the rear seats ability to recline, making the longer trip much more comfortable.
The 2014 Toyota Venza Limited V6 AWD is a very capable multi-use vehicle that is ideal for families needing the attributes of an SUV, but want the driving attitude of a sedan. It’s easier to drive and offers the capabilities of a wagon.
It will be big enough for a growing family and can carry kids, cargo, dogs and recreational equipment on the weekends. The Venza is roomy and comfortable and climbing in and out is easy. When equipped with the V6, it has plenty of power and still gets decent fuel mileage. The all-wheel-drive makes it a very capable all-weather and light off-road recreational use vehicle.
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