Research

2012 Toyota Venza Review

The Car Connection Expert Rating Breakdown?

7.4
on a scale of 1 to 10
Styling
7.0
Expert Rating
Performance
7.0
Expert Rating
Comfort & Quality
8.0
Expert Rating
Safety
7.0
Expert Rating
Features
8.0
Expert Rating
Fuel Economy
6.0
Expert Rating

The Car Connection Expert Review

The 2012 Toyota Venza isn't pulse-raising, but its smooth styling and calming, practical, comfortable interior provide just what some families or empty-nesters want.

Toyota hasn't sold a Camry Wagon in years, but in the automaker's lineup the 2012 Toyota Venza is what comes closest to it today. The Venza provides a higher seating position than a sedan, but a low, more manageable one than tall, upright SUVs, and in terms of space the five-seater slots between the base five-seat RAV4 and the more bloated Highlander seven-seater.

The 2012 Venza completely skips the rugged look of SUVs; but it also dodges the overwrought high-performance look of some crossovers, too. What results is a design that's already been on the market for three years but still looks soft and contemporary. Standing out isn't the priority, it seems (even though it looks nice with the available 20-inch wheels); instead, it's a perfectly competent family vehicle that combines most of the utility offered by a crossover SUV with a lower fastback roofline. Inside, the appointments are a bit more lavish than those within the Camry or Highlander--taking cues, almost, as an on-a-budget Lexus RX 350.

The Venza's reason for being clearly isn't performance either, but most families will find it to be adequate if not entertaining. The base 182-horsepower, 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine, teamed to a six-speed automatic falls strictly into the adequate category. It putters along just fine, albeit without much inspiration, with front- or all-wheel drive, but you'll wish for a gutsier personality on steep hills, or with a full load. With the 268-hp, 3.5-liter V-6, you get a smoother, stronger character that's again more along the lines of the Lexus RX 350, but you lose several mpg. Overall, the Venza drives much more like a minivan than a sport sedan or SUV; it handles well enough, though not in an inspiring way, because of a soft suspension and numb steering.

Inside, it's all about passenger comfort, and it's easy to see who Toyota's target customer is with this vehicle. The tall roofline allows a rather high, upright driving position and plenty of headroom. And it allows the other major advantage of the Venza's design: those high, but not too-high, seats are superbly easy to slide in and out of—perfect for the elderly, Meanwhile, the roomy back seat is great for a couple of adults riding along, and the reclining seatback folds nearly flat for bulky weekend errands such as picking up furniture, or for packing the grandkids' strollers.

A soft, quiet, isolated cabin combined with nice details and trim--at least visually--make the Venza feel almost like a luxury vehicle, although there's a bit more road noise than a Lexus would ever have, and the base four is vocal, albeit smooth. Unfortunately up close there's a bit too much hard plastic for a vehicle with a price tag than can well exceed $30k.

The Venza changes very little for 2012, in most respects, but the Venza is now offered in three trims instead of one.  Base LE models get a number of conveniences, including dual-zone climate control, tilt/telescopic steering-wheel adjustment, overhead console lights, and Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, plus a USB port and aux input. A power liftgate and backup camera are available. The XLE adds those items, plus heated seats, leather upholstery, a Smart Key system, and more, while the top-of-the-line Limited comes in V-6 form only and adds navigation, a panoramic glass roof, and HID headlamps. A DVD entertainment system is optional, and all sorts of pet-friendly accessories remain available at dealerships.

The Car Connection Consumer Review

Rate and Review your car for The Car Connection! Tell us your own ratings for a vehicle you own. Rate your car on Performance, Safety, Features and more.
Write a Review
Saturday, August 15, 2015
2015 Toyota Venza 4-Door Wagon V6 AWD Limited (Natl)

This is a very nice vehicle to drive as it is a perfect size with lots of power and all the options a person would want.

  • Overall Rating
  • Interior/Exterior
  • Performance
  • Comfort and Quality
  • Safety
  • Features
  • Fuel Economy / MPG
  • Reliability
My only complaint about the new Venza is that it appears the exterior paint can be damaged very easily. I suspect that is due to a very, very thin application of clear coat. I have been driving Toyotas since... + More »
people found this helpful.
Was this review helpful? Yes
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
2014 Toyota Venza 4-Door Wagon V6 AWD Limited (GS)

Fit and Finish Yugo-Like

  • Overall Rating
  • Interior/Exterior
  • Performance
  • Comfort and Quality
  • Safety
  • Features
  • Fuel Economy / MPG
  • Reliability
The fit and finish on the interior is atrocious. I had to have the entire dash replaced because it was so badly made. Gaps everywhere. It took three sets of mud flaps before they could find four that fit... + More »
people found this helpful.
Was this review helpful? Yes
Saturday, April 11, 2015
For 2014 Toyota Venza

can be better

  • Overall Rating
  • Interior/Exterior
  • Performance
  • Comfort and Quality
  • Safety
  • Features
  • Fuel Economy / MPG
  • Reliability
Interior quite cheap materials used..... Fuel economy not good at all..... Nicely loaded with all the toys and gadgets.... Vision, seating, comfort is very good...
people found this helpful.
Was this review helpful? Yes
See all user reviews »
Looking for other models of the Toyota Venza?
Read reviews & get prices
Compare the 2012 Toyota Venza against the competition
Compare All Cars