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November 06, 2009

New Car Review: 2009 Toyota Venza

By Thom Blackett

2009_Toyota_Venza_exterior_roadandtravel We may be facing shortages across the board these days (jobs, 401k earnings, etc.), but there’s one area that continues to see unhampered growth: automotive categories. Where once we saw pickups, wagons and sedans now reside crossovers, SUTs, CUVs, four-door coupes, and every other variant under the sun. If you think it’s confusing for the consumer, consider that Toyota and the EPA can’t even agree on how to classify the new 2009 Venza. Toyota calls it’s Ford Edge-fighter a car, whereas the government deems the five-passenger rig an SUV. Whatever it is, buyers of the Venza will enjoy its versatility, comfort, affordability, and perhaps even its arguably attractive styling.

Prices for the 2009 Toyota Venza start at about $26,000, which delivers a front-wheel-drive version fitted with a 182-horsepower four-cylinder engine that delivers an EPA-estimated 21 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway. Toyota also offers the Venza with all-wheel-drive capability and a 268-horsepower V-6 that cuts highway fuel economy by about seven miles-per-gallon. We tested the less powerful Venza and discovered adequate oomph for the daily slog, though by no means does the four-cylinder Venza feel quick. The standard six-speed automatic transmission provides smooth shifts. Our only gripe centered on as-tested fuel economy, which came in at 23.5 mpg, a bit lower than we expected given how many miles were logged at steady speeds on the highway.

Move inside the Venza and you’ll find spacious and supportive front buckets backed up by a rear seat offering a bounty of leg room. In addition to comfort, the 2009 Toyota Venza boasts an ample cargo area (with integrated levers to quickly release the second-row seatbacks), a compliant and composed ride, decent outward visibility, and an interior that would be admirably quiet if not for wind noise seeping in around the front doors. Materials are better than we’ve seen in recent Toyotas, though the cheap headliner needs to go, as do many of the remaining hard-touch surfaces.

Despite a few nitpick details, the all-new Venza is a solid effort by Toyota to meet the needs of buyers seeking the comfort of a sedan with the utility of an SUV. How you classify it is up to you.

Specifications
Test Vehicle:
2009 Toyota Venza FWD 4-cyl.
Base Price:
$25,975
Price as Tested:
$27,293
Engine:
2.7-liter four-cylinder
Transmission:
Six-speed automatic
EPA Fuel Economy:
21 mpg city/29 mpg highway
Road & Travel’s Observed Fuel Economy:
23.5 mpg
NHTSA
/IIHS Frontal Crash Ratings:
5 stars / Good
NHTSA
/IIHS Side Impact Ratings:
5 stars / Good
Also Consider:
Ford Edge, Mazda CX-7, Volkswagen Tiguan

For more information see Road & Travel’s Toyota Buyer’s Guide or visit toyota.com.

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