The Toyota Venza is not an SUV, it’s not a crossover, and it’s not a sedan. So, what is this multi-purpose vehicle from Toyota anyway?
Venza is built on the platform of the previous-generation (2007-2011) Camry, and is assembled in the same plant in Georgetown, Kentucky.
It rides and drives like a car and it’s a good fit for many families.
Most Americans don’t really like traditional wagons, but that’s what Venza essentially is. It’s a five seater, with a rear tailgate, and the utility and body style of a wagon.
However, what really sets it apart is the all-wheel-drive configuration, making it ideal for cold weather climates.
What’s New for 2015?
All 2015 Venzas come with a 6.1-inch touchscreen interface, albeit with split-screen navigation and mobile-app functionality reserved for XLE and Limited. A rear-view camera is also standard across the lineup.
Additionally, the towing package is standard on all V6 models for those wanting to pull a small camper or boat.
The entry-level LE is now four-cylinder only, while a simplified equipment roster limits options to a single package on the XLE. Toyota Venza features a lower roof line as well.
Features & Options
Venza Limited V6 AWD ($39,790) comes loaded with HD Navigation, JBL audio, backup camera, leather seats, heated front seats, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, push button start, and a panoramic glass roof with power front moonroof.
HID headlamps with automatic high beams, LED daytime running lights, power liftgate, and front and rear parking sonar systems are also included.
Options on the Venza tester were mudguards ($155), remote engine start ($499), paint protection film ($395) and floor mat package ($390).
Total MSRP including destination: $42,193
The Toyota Venza is a more refined, upscale alternative to a five-passenger sedan while offering the cargo capacity and utility of a wagon.
While many Americans are turned off by wagons, Toyota has done a good job of convincing buyers this is an SUV.
The cabin offers the comfort of a luxurious sedan with its leather and nicely appointed interior. Venza is easy to get into like a sedan and has a lower ride height. The overall feeling inside is one of spaciousness, especially in the front.
The rear seats offer a surprising amount of legroom which our passengers found out over the weekend. We took a road trip to Longmont to have tasty BBQ ribs at the Rib House. They were able to recline the 60/40 split seatbacks 14 degrees, for even more comfort on the hour long trip.
That was especially nice for them on the way back as they had eaten too much!
Earlier in the week, we needed to transport some big boxes and found the power liftgate to be a lifesaver. We were also able to lower the the rear seats flat to have the extra cargo room to carry the big load.
For dog owners, Venza can be optionally equipped with accessories like a travel harness, rear pet barrier, a pet tent (for smaller dogs), and seat cover for the rear bench seat.
The interior of the Venza “wagon” comes with an unusual mix of qualities that combine the easy-to-use attributes of a premium car with the high-utility and flexibility of a wagon.
Engine & Fuel Mileage
Venza Limited is powered by a 3.5-liter V6, both coupled to a 6-speed automatic transmission sending power to all four wheels.
The V6 gets an EPA-estimated 18/25 mpg city/highway and 21 combined mpg with all-wheel drive.
On the road, the Toyota Venza feels like a car because it’s built on the same platform as the Camry sedan. It fits the Venza well because the vehicle, although bigger than Camry, still maintains a smooth on-road presence.
In a downpour this week, the all-wheel-drive wagon handled the slippery roads with excellent stability.
We also took the five seater up into the mountains. Quick cornering was achieved with some body roll but steering was light and accurate for a big wagon.
Stability is a strong point for Toyota Venza and the AWD option is a must for those who live in cold climates where snow and ice are present. With all the rain recently, we never felt the Venza wander once in the slippery conditions.
The Venza is not designed to be an off-road vehicle even with its 8.1 inches of ground clearance. For more serious off-road driving, we recommend the new Toyota 4Runner.
It does, however, handle the minor dirt roads well, along with the trails leading to recreational fun.
We did notice the brakes are a bit soft, even with the four-wheel discs. On our way home from the BBQ lunch, we were coming off the mountain highway and had a deer jump out in front!
We hit the brakes and it took a few extra feet beyond what we expected to get stopped. Luckily, the deer saw us, turned, and ran the opposite direction – Toyota Venza is bigger and heavier (and scarier?) than we thought!
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The 2015 Toyota Venza Limited V6 AWD combines the virtues of a car, crossover, and SUV. This results in a vehicle that’s easy to drive and gives you a feeling of confidence.
The Venza seats five, can carry extra cargo for recreation on the weekends, and will work well for hauling dogs with the optional features. It’s roomy and comfortable. Climbing in and out is easy. It offers good, smooth performance on the highway and handles well in wet and slippery conditions.
And yes, it’s really a wagon, but don’t tell your friends.