The 2010 Toyota Venza doesn't necessary live up to its name—created by merging "venture" and "Monza" (a racetrack)—but it's a perfectly competent family vehicle that combines most of the utility offered by a crossover SUV with a lower fastback roofline. Roomy five-passenger seating and an emphasis on comfort and versatility cast it as a direct rival to the most carlike crossover vehicles while offering a package that's discernibly different at first glance.
Despite the Venza's humble and wide-ranging origins—it's part Camry, part Highlander, and partly original underneath—this fastback ute is a pretty good-looking vehicle overall, particularly from the side view. In Toyota's well-stocked lineup, the 2010 Toyota Venza slots in between the base five-seat RAV4 and the more bloated Highlander seven-seater. The multibar grille is full of chrome, and the snout is probably the least attractive aspect of the Venza, but otherwise, especially from the back, its roofline gives it just enough shapeliness. Inside, the Venza is also a bit curvy but not over the top, with big, clear gauges and an unusual center stack dividing driver and front passenger. With the mahogany-grain trim, the Venza is arguably quite well dressed.
The 2010 Toyota Venza uses powertrain components that are strictly from the Toyota parts bin. The base engine is a 182-horsepower, 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine, teamed to a six-speed automatic and either front- or all-wheel drive. With the four, the Venza putters anonymously in most situations but feels a bit strained with a full load or on steep grades; it can sound a little coarse, too. The 268-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 gives the Venza a smoother, stronger character, but fuel economy is the penalty. Four-cylinder Venzas get up to 21 mpg city, 29 highway, but the V-6 with front-wheel drive gets 19/26 mpg.