2011 Toyota Venza Comfort & Quality

8.0
Comfort & Quality
The 2011 Toyota Venza has a design that pays off with tremendous interior space; it can fit five adults comfortably while still having plenty of cargo space for a sizable grocery run.

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, in fact.

While the Venza doesn't have a third row, the story is just as good in the second row. Even when tall drivers are situated up front, there's still plenty of space in back for adults, and the seat further reclines 14 degrees. Of course, it's split and folds (almost flat) easily. Up front there are plenty of cubbies for smaller items, along with robust cup holders and a deep well in the console, but the cargo area in back doesn't come with any standard organizers or flexible packaging other than a tonneau cover.

Passenger space and versatility are the strongest selling points for the Venza; some might wish for a little more refinement, though.

The bigger disappointment is in the Venza's interior trim—it's oddly textured with lines that highlight its vast pieces of plastic, instead of diminishing them, and overall the materials just don't keep pace with the upscale, luxury-oriented message. Taller drivers need to rest their knees against the hard-plastic ridge on the side of the center stack—an irritating detail. The Venza's tall doors also feel thin and insubstantial—more like those on a Prius—and resonate with cabin noise.

Overall, the Venza goes down the road with a certain isolation that pleases riders, not drivers. The suspension is quite soft, and the Venza steers and brakes safely, though the electric power steering comes across as artificial and lifeless, with no feel of the road. Editors have noticed that four-cylinder models ride a bit better without handling any worse, although in either model wind and road noise aren't up to a luxury-car level either.

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