Review 2009 Toyota Venza AWD: A cool yet fuddy-duddy car for families wth 1.5 dogs



You have to admit that it is another one of those
funky Japaneses car names that seems to suggest fun and utility at the
same time. Sort of like Acura, Intergra and of course the Suzuki

Funny how all of these names end in a consonant followed by an "a."

You can almost picture the focus group when they test these car names.

does the word Integra make you think of integrity," I can see the focus
group leader asking a bunch of bored Americans sitting around a
conference table.

about Venza? Would you think of Venice, Italy, Gelato, and romantic
nights as you haul your kids and 1.5 dogs to the soccer game?"

know that Toyota has never been one to really rock the boat. The
company often defines the basic meaning of the word "conservative"
which as you know means "traditional in style or manner; avoiding
novelty or showiness."

So it should probably come as no surprise
to you that while the Venza may be wrapped in the newest and hippest of
crossover sheet metal the car is basically a conservative Toyota at


About the only really big (and mean really big) ground
breaking style bling that the Venza brings to the party are enormous 19
inch wheels which either bulge from the car's sporty body like pumped
quads on a body builder, or bring to mind an International Harvest
tractor from 1970. It really depends on which way you look at the Venza.

the car is all svelte and somewhat sassy with two tone accents on the
leather clad seating and "I hate it" or "I love it"
automatic/sequential stick shift lever that sprouts from the center
council like an unwanted weed, or handy and smart gear changing device.

Once again it really is a matter of perspective.

the other Venza switch gear is smooth, stylish and very functional in
that odd sort cool/fuddy-duddy mixture of elements that only Toyota
seems to always combine.

For instance the duel climate controls
are new to Venza and certainly unique. The driver's rotary knob is
large and easy to use while the passenger's rotary dial is offset,
smaller, and just as easy to use.

But all of the steering wheel
switch gear, such as the light stalk and turn signal indicator looks
like it came right out of a 1998 Toyota 4Runner.

Odd indeed.

So how does the Venza drive?

I know this might sound a bit lame, but the answer is like you'd except.

other words the Venza, especially my 2.7L 4-cylinder tester, drives
like a big car with big wheels with a smallish engine that's working
just a bit too hard for its own good.

Think of your former
athletic football playing uncle who's a bit out of shape and decides to
go for a ski vacation in Colorado. He may still be athletic, but he'll
huff and puff just walking up to the lift ticket window.

This is
not to say that the Venza will embarrass you on the highway or zipping
around that fast exit ramp near your home. Just like your uncle it
still has the old moves, they are just not as sharp and crisp as they
once used to be.

Venza5 But to be fair the Venza is not designed for
drag racing or canyon carving. At the local shopping mall the car
shines with an easy and massive electric opening tailgate, tons of
front and rear seat leg room, clever two way opening center storage bin,
and that new age crossover styling that still manages to turn heads.

only (and I would say biggest) complaint with the Venza was that I was
unable to lower the driver's seat enough to actually feel like I was
sitting in the car instead of on top of it. In fact every time I got in
the Venza I tried to flip up the sun visor because I thought it was
down when, of course, it was not.

Perhaps Toyota designed the car's seating position for a shorter women's body and not my 6'2 former football player's build.

to be honest I was always a tennis player in High School until my coach
senior year told me, "Roman, lets face it: you are no gazelle out there
on the tennis court."

I just wish he had told me a bit earlier…like in second grade.

the Venza is a smart and useful package, sorry make that car, no make
that crossover, that's just hip enough to entice younger buyers from
their Scion's into something a bit more family and dog friendly.

just in case you where wondering a 1.5 dog family is like my neighbors
who have a 60 pound golden retriever and one of those small and yippee
purse dogs that are so cute and lovable, yet easy to run over when
backing up.


2009 Toyota Venza AWD

Price as Tested: $33,499.

Engine, Transmission: 2.7L 4cyl DOHC 18V Duel VVT-I 6 speed Auto ECT  with Sequential shifting

Horsepower: 182

G-Tac Test Data

1/4 Mile: 17.59 second at 86 mph

0-60 mph: 10.10

60-0 stopping: 155 feet

Max Acceleration: 0.48 g's

EPA Fuel Economy Estimates

City: 20 mpg

Highway: 28 mpg

Combined: 23 mpg

As tested: 21.1 mpg

CO2 per year: 11,179 lbs

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Roman Roman Mica is a columnist, journalist, and author, who spent his early
years driving fast on the German autobahn. When he's not reviewing cars
for the active set, you can find him training for triathlons and
writing about endurance sports for, Mica is also the Endurance Sports Examiner.