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Toyota Introduces Venza—A Cheaper R-Class

Being a stickler for truth, all the marketing hype from manufacturers about "creating new segments" isn't just getting old, it's tired and completely meaningless. Notice to marketing and PR wonks, "Cut it out, already." Simply present your new vehicles for what they are. The market, if it cares, will tell you what it thinks it is and what it competes against.

Case in point, the new Toyota Venza. It's going to be a hit. Toyota rightly recognized the trend away from mid- and full-size SUVs, and have created an unabashedly car-like and practical crossover that has no pretensions of being truck-like or rugged. Broadly speaking, nearly identical to the Mercedes R-Class in concept, only Toyota's will be reasonable priced at about $25,000 starting for a four-cylinder version with V-6 models probably starting around $30,000. Following the Keep It Simple Stupid principle, only one trim level will be offered. Based on the well-appointed interior we saw on the display vehicle, the standard issue Venza won't be a stripper in terms of features. Toyota claims that V-6 models will be rated to tow 3,500 pounds.

The five-passenger Venza is sedan based (Camry/Avalon) and features a slightly taller overall stance and roofline. The profile's sloping greenhouse prevents the shape from being classified as a traditional station wagon while providing SUV-like cargo-carrying capabilities. The driver's POV is sedan-like, just slightly higher. The car's height makes cargo loading and ingress/egress much easier than a full-size SUV. Cool options included a large, paneled sunroof that we've seen before on the Pontiac G6. V-6 models get 20-inch tires and wheels, with the four-bangers getting 19s.

The 2009 Venza was designed at Toyota's studio in California and engineered at the manufacturer's Ann Arbor, Michigan facility. It will be built alongside the Camry and Avalon at the Georgetown, Kentucky plant.

In typical Toyota form, they've got all the bases covered for the general market. Along with a host of expected dynamic safety features, stability control is also standard. Inside, passive safety features include seven total air bags, include knee bags for the driver.

Be sure to check out the rest of our 2008 Detroit coverage.
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Comments (11)
  1. Will you guys EVER get tired of shilling for toyota????? They "recognized the trend"?!?! Do you know how many vehicles are already IN this space?? Even Ford's already on the SECOND version of theirs, for God's sake! And of course it's a CHEAPER version of an R-Class; Toyota ALWAYS rips off M-B (witness everything Lexus has ever built), and it HAS to be cheaper. Theirs is a TOYOTA (Japanese for appliance). The R-Class is a BENZ. Do you understand the difference?

    I doubt it.

  2. I hope it's not as homely as it looks from this angle.

  3. A face only a mother could love!

  4. Ed, take a chill pill!!!

  5. Interesting but let's be honest. $ 25,000 to $ 30,000 is not a cheaper vehicle. Of course there are a lot of models costier than that. And one last thing, please do not compare the vehicles in such way. Toyota always will buitl vehicles cheaper than Mercedes Benz. If you think that a vehicle is a achine to move people from point A to point B then the comparisson applies, if not, well...

  6. No it is not homely, and does look a lot better in person. And as far as ripping off from MB. What planet are you from. These designs are started years before the car or truck ever comes off an assembly line. As to the 2nd version of FORD, we at the Georgetown plant in KENTUCKY, USA, work hard to keep the cost of our vehicles down, unlike those who have to work hard to pay a union rep to keep your jobs. Don't bash something you know nothing about. This crossover will, as almost all Toyota's have, be another winner, in the quality and customer satisfaction catagories. You already know how we do at sales. And yes I am proud of who I work for.

  7. The Japanese Toyota Mark X ZiO is seriously better looking and in the same category of vehicle. Unless the Venza has substantially better mileage and looks better than the pictures, I'll trade my Highlander for a Veracruz. The CALTY designers need to get away from the Crouching Frog school of design as seen in the new Highlander, Matrix, and now Venza.

  8. The Venza will be another huge succuess for Toyota, much like the Corolla, Camry, 4Runner and all the others. Japan understands the formula for success and have succesfully limited the legacy costs that are hanging around Detroit's neck. Buy a Lexus or a Toyota and you are making a wise choice...By the way, as an independent car dealer I have owned them all........I always recommend the Toyota / Lexus brand and my customers keep coming back...Not so for those that bought a BMW or MB.

  9. Toyota ripping off MB? Who was it that came out with V8 power and forced the other company to offer V8 power, Lexus did.

    Who came out with the first crossover? Toyota (Rav4)

    The Venza looks like another well deserved winner for Toyota.

  10. Erick:

    "Toyota always will buitl vehicles cheaper than Mercedes Benz. "

    yes, and Toyota will ALWAYS build vehicles MORE RELIABLE than M-B too. even the cheapest toyota has less problems than Benzs 1/2 to 1/3 as old.

    go up to Lexus, and you STILL have the stellar reliability (especially with electronic devices), AND any lux feature you can overpay for in a Benz. few cars are as overrated as MB. few cars are as underrated as Toyotas (altho increasing numbers are learning, as evidenced by toyota's ever growing market share).

  11. and John Sutton VERIFIES my statements with his: "By the way, as an independent car dealer I have owned them all……..I always recommend the Toyota / Lexus brand and my customers keep coming back…Not so for those that bought a BMW or MB. "

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