Performance really isn't the Venza's reason for being, though it performs well enough for most family needs in either of its forms. With powertrain components that are strictly from the Toyota parts bin, shoppers have a choice between a four-cylinder or V-6 engine. The base 182-horsepower, 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine, teamed to a six-speed automatic, with either front- or all-wheel drive, 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.
Off-roading simply isn't part of the 2011 Venza vocabulary. Simply put, the Venza is configured for a smooth ride and reasonably responsive performance on the road, with four-cylinder and V-6 engines.
But sprightly it is not. In repeat drives, editors have found the Venza's driving experience to be adequate but numb and uninspiring. It drives much more like a minivan than a sport sedan; though you can hustle the Venza along, you won't feel inspired to as the steering feel is quite vague and there's a lot of body roll.
The 2011 Toyota Venza performs well enough, but there’s very little that’s exciting about it.