Toyota designed the Venza to appeal to an emerging section of the market that prioritizes bold, innovative design, and excellent handling but still requires outstanding roominess and utility. Venza offers all of those qualities, along with a luxurious and refined interior, and SUV-like flexibility, specifically in its foldable rear seats, a large cargo area, higher driver sightline, available all-wheel drive (AWD) and up to 3,500-lbs. towing capacity.
Venza was the first Toyota passenger car to include the STAR Safety System™ as standard equipment. Other firsts include a multi-information display that can be customized to adjust the font size and content and navigation voice instructions available in Spanish, French or English (XM Traffic is only available in English).
Performance and Efficiency
The 2011 Venza offers a choice between four-cylinder and V6 engines, both with excellent responsiveness and fuel economy. Both the four-cylinder and V6 models are available in front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive (AWD) versions. Venza's standard 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine delivers 182 horsepower at 5,800 rpm and 182 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,200 rpm. The four-cylinder Venza is EPA-rated at 21 MPG city/- 27 MPG highway for the FWD model.
The Venza's available 3.5-liter V6 produces 268 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 246 lb.-ft of torque at 4,700 rpm. The V6 FWD model has EPA-estimated fuel economy ratings of 19 MPG city/26 MPG highway.
Both engines are mated to a six-speed sequential-shift electronically controlled automatic transmission with intelligence (ECT-i). The six-speed ECT-i provides an engaging driving experience and helps optimize fuel economy. Uphill/downhill shift logic selects the proper gear for driving conditions and helps provide moderate engine braking during downhill driving.
Venza's available Active Torque Control AWD System optimizes torque distribution between the front and rear wheels to help ensure stable acceleration and smooth cornering on all road surfaces. AWD offers enhanced traction and helps provide excellent overall handling in inclement weather.
Handling and Ride
Venza was designed with a lower center of gravity than typical SUVs to help provide dynamic handling, which is further enhanced by the large wheels and tires. The four-cylinder models ride on 10-spoke, 19-inch aluminum alloy wheels. Distinctive 20-inch five-spoke aluminum alloy wheels are standard for the V6 model and were a first for a Toyota passenger car. Power-assisted ventilated front/solid rear disc brakes are standard on all models.
Venza's body structure relies on high tensile-strength steel, gussets and crossmembers for its strength, rigidity and optimized weight. Front suspension is by rigid L-arm-type MacPherson strut with a stabilizer bar, and rear suspension is a dual-link MacPherson strut setup with stabilizer bar.
Electric power steering (EPS), with its ideally weighted steering effort, contributes to the Venza's spirited driving dynamics. EPS helps provide a more direct steering feel at both high and low speeds and provides just-right assist when maneuvering the vehicle into tight parking spaces.
Toyota's STAR Safety System is standard on all Venza models and features ABS with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), enhanced Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) and Traction Control (TRAC) systems with a cutoff switch, and Brake Assist.
VSC automatically adjusts engine output and the vehicle's braking force at each wheel to help control loss of traction during cornering. TRAC helps maintain traction during challenging driving conditions. Brake Assist is designed to determine if the driver is attempting emergency braking. If the driver has not stepped firmly enough on the brake pedal to engage ABS, Brake Assist supplements the applied braking power until the driver releases the pedal. Hill-start Assist Control (HAC), also standard on all Venza models, temporarily provides pressure to the brakes while the vehicle is stopped on an incline to help ensure easy starting with no rollback.
Venza's comprehensive array of standard safety features provides seven airbags, including a driver's knee airbag, driver and front passenger front seat-mounted side airbags, and front and rear side curtain airbags. Front seat belt pretensioners retract the seat belt in a severe frontal collision, while the dual-stage force limiters help limit the seat belt force applied to the driver and passenger's chests. Driver and front passenger seats employ active headrests. If the vehicle is struck from the rear, a cable-actuated mechanism will move the headrest upward and forward to help limit movement of the occupant's head.
Comfort and Convenience
Venza features a single model grade strategy with an extensive roster of standard equipment. Standard interior features include dual-zone automatic climate control with air filter and second row seat vents; a tilt/telescopic adjustable steering wheel with integrated audio controls; an overhead console with map lights; rear seat adjustable personal reading lamps and three 12-volt power outlets.
Venza's generous utility includes several clever storage locations and lighting. The adjustable center console features a sliding cover and armrest, three MP3 player holders with wire concealment features, and a large storage compartment.
The compartment is also equipped with an auxiliary audio jack and 12-volt power outlet. The upper portion of the center console houses the gearshift lever for easy and comfortable driver access. An on/off switch on the overhead console enables front seat occupants to operate all four personal overhead interior lights.
Interior storage is further complemented by a total of 10 front and rear beverage holders (six bottle holders and four cup holders). These include dual-illuminated sliding front cup holders in the center console, two in the rear seat armrest, and front and back door bottle holders.
Three different audio systems are available for the 2011 Venza. The standard system includes an AM/FM six-disc, in-dash CD changer with integrated satellite radio, Bluetooth® hands-free phone capability, MP3/WMA playback capability and six speakers. The optional JBL Synthesis® surround sound audio system includes an AM/FM six-disc in-dash CD changer with integrated satellite radio, MP3/WMA playback capability, Bluetooth™ hands-free phone capability and 13 speakers. The third system includes a touch-screen DVD Navigation System with 4-disc in-dash CD changer with integrated XM satellite radio, MP3/WMA playback capability, Bluetooth™ hands-free phone capability and 13 speakers.
Simplified option packages and stand-alone options for the 2011 Venza include numerous comfort and utility features. Some include: high intensity discharge headlamps with an automatic high beam feature that detects oncoming vehicles and automatically switches the headlamps from high- to low-beam; chrome-accented front door handles that lock and unlock all four doors and the liftgate; panoramic roof with power tilt/slide function and a separate fixed glass panel over the rear seats, and power windows with auto up/down function and jam protection on all four doors.
An available rear seat DVD entertainment system features JBL Synthesis surround sound, nine-inch display, two sets of wireless headphones, a remote control unit, auxiliary mini-jack, a 120-volt outlet and RCA mini-jacks.
Additional options for Venza include power liftgate with jam protection; Smart Key System with push button start; leather-trimmed seats; tow hitch; roof rack; carpeted floor mats, and a cargo mat. A wide range of pet utility accessories, including a rear liftgate pet ramp, booster seat with harness, pet buckles and rear seat zipline-style harnesses are available at Toyota dealerships. Other items include pet carriers and bucket seat, bench seat and hammock-style waterproof seat covers.
The Venza is built on a generous 109.3-in. wheelbase and has an overall length of 189 inches and height of 63.4 inches. Toyota engineers minimized vehicle height while maximizing head room. The Venza design team's development focus was to create a new vehicle that shifted away from traditional SUV styling themes. Calty designers leaned toward a sleek sedan-like concept with a wide stance that featured a sporty exterior, but also included important SUV attributes, such as cargo space, towing capability and available all-wheel drive performance.
The Venza sports an aerodynamic shape with short overhangs, forward A-pillar, crisp character lines, and a low roofline. Continuous brushstroke lines run from the front grille to the D-pillar. A bold front end features a distinctive grille, headlights and fog lamps for a sporty yet refined appearance. From behind, Venza's sophisticated and confident appearance is completed with an angled rear hatch, spoiler and wide wraparound taillights that interconnect with the hatch door. Tight tire-to-body gaps contribute to the sophisticated, refined appearance.
The Venza design offers much practicality. For example, the rear load-in height is almost as low as that of the Sienna family van's. An available power liftgate with jam protection that detects obstruction in the door's path and reverses the motor. Venza's sweeping rocker panels provide a lower step-over height for improved ergonomics. The generously sized liftgate opening enhances the vehicle's utility.
The Venza interior is designed to enhance driving enjoyment and offer premium comfort. The available interior colors, ivory and light gray, are available in both leather and fabric. The flow of the center console creates a unique "60/60" design that gives both driver and front passenger the feeling that 60 percent of the space is accessible from their seating position. The standard Optitron® speedometer and tachometer and multi-color center instrument panel display can be paired with optional satin mahogany wood-grain style trim. Dual-zone automatic climate system controls are centrally located on the upper console, providing easy access for both the driver and front passenger.
Personal space lends overall comfort to the vehicle's interior. Measurements for head room, shoulder room, hip room and couple distance surpass competitive vehicles. Cargo area utility is enhanced with fold-down 60/40 rear seats, one-touch fold-down seat levers and a tonneau cover.
All aspects of Venza's engineering and design were targeted specifically for the North American market, where it is sold exclusively. Venza was primarily engineered at Toyota Technical Center in Ann Arbor, Mich. The design was the creation of Toyota's Calty Design studios in Newport Beach, Calif., and Ann Arbor, Mich. Venza is assembled at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky (TMMK), in Georgetown, Ky., also home of the Camry and Avalon. More than 70 percent of Venza's components come from North American suppliers.
Toyota's 36-month/36,000 mile basic new-vehicle warranty applies to all components other than normal wear and maintenance items. Additional 60-month warranties cover powertrain for 60,000 miles and corrosion with no mileage limitation. Toyota dealers have complete details on the limited warranty.
Check out the new 2011 Toyota Venza later this year at Motorcars Toyota - 2950 Mayfield Rd., Cleveland Heights, OH 44118.