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TheCarConnection.com's car experts researched Web reviews of the 2009 Toyota Venza to compile this full review. TheCarConnection.com's editors also drove the 2009 Toyota Venza in order to sort through the opinions they found on the Web, to find a consensus among online car-review Web sites, and to help you get to the truth where reviewers had differing opinions.
- Intriguing styling
- Tall-wagon versatility
- Available four-cylinder engine
- Available all-wheel drive
- Cabin textures and trims
- Steering feel
- Road noise
According to Toyota, the 2009 Toyota Venza is an exception to the crossover vehicle rules. The automaker says the Venza—a name that combines "venture" and "Monza," an Italian racetrack—has the carlike looks and SUV flexibility to make it a new type of vehicle. In reality, the Venza's a fairly conventional crossover vehicle with five-passenger seating and a direct competitor to the likes of the Ford Edge and Nissan Murano.
In the Toyota crossover lineup, the Venza slots between the big, bloated Highlander seven-seater and the sportier five-seat RAV4. All of them are based on various other Toyotas; the Venza is part Camry, part Highlander, and partly its own creation. Despite its frankenbirth, the Venza looks tightly integrated and pretty interesting from some angles, particularly the side view. It's a boxy crossover, yes—but the multibar grille and fast silhouette make it far more attractive than the plainer Ford Edge and less controversial than the Nissan Murano. The Venza's interior takes a middle path as well, with an unconventionally shaped center stack of controls dividing driver and front passenger. Big, clear gauges and optional mahogany-grained trim dress it up better than its competition.
The Toyota parts bin also donates most of the Venza's running gear. Engines include a 182-horsepower 2.7-liter four-cylinder, teamed to a six-speed automatic and an optional all-wheel-drive system that splits power between front and rear wheels. This base Venza strains a bit to provide uphill and passing performance, but putters anonymously in most other conditions, though with a bit more engine noise than expected. The 268-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 is substantially smoother and more powerful, but comes with its own slight penalty: Fuel economy in front-drive V-6 Venzas is 19/26 mpg, compared to the 21/29 mpg delivered by the four-cylinder version.