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PERFORMANCE | 7 out of 10
Venza's maximum towing capacity is 3500 pounds
4-cylinder has just adequate power for around-town driving
The 268-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 is the better choice in our book
Car and Driver
The 2009 Toyota Venza is a capable errand runner, especially with the available V-6 engine, but unlike some crossovers it doesn't make much of an effort in the off-road category.
Motor Trend reviewers state that the Venza Toyota is available with "a choice of two engines: a new 2.7-liter, 182-horse inline-four and a 3.5-liter, 268-horse V-6, seen in the Camry, Highlander, and RAV4." Both engines score respectably well in reviews read by TheCarConnection.com, but the V-6 is, unsurprisingly, the clear favorite. MyRide.com says that, "with the four-cylinder, power is adequate," though "the engine was less refined than we would have liked, and at times annoyingly buzzy." ConsumerGuide adds that "with front-wheel drive, the four-cylinder has just adequate power," and the 2009 Toyota Venza "strains going up hills, and highway passing and merging require lots of room." These problems are easily solved by moving up to the V-6 version of the 2009 Toyota Venza, which ConsumerGuide contends "provides plenty of power for most any need." Cars.com agrees, noting that "the V-6 [Venza Toyota] was obviously much more enjoyable and fun to drive," and "it had plenty of power in most situations." For those wondering about towing their boat with the Venza Toyota, Automobile Magazine remarks that the 2009 Toyota Venza's "maximum towing capacity is 3500 pounds, which is strong for such a vehicle."
Regardless of which engine you select for your Venza Toyota, you will be guaranteed that it "teams with a six-speed automatic transmission," according to ConsumerGuide. The transmission fares well with reviewers; ConsumerGuide claims that, "though smooth with both engines, the transmission is far busier with the four-cylinder than the V-6," and Cars.com also notes that "the same six-speed automatic is much smoother" with the 2009 Toyota Venza's V-6. The Detroit News is impressed even with the four-cylinder/six-speed combination, reporting that the transmission was "never searching through the gears as it adjusted to the changing terrain."
One of the performance downsides of the Venza Toyota is that it doesn't offer phenomenal fuel economy, though the V-6 doesn't lag far behind the four-cylinder. According to the EPA, the 2009 Toyota Venza four-cylinder, front-wheel-drive model should return 21 mpg city, 29 highway. For the Venza Toyota V-6 AWD, drivers can expect 18 mpg city, 25 highway.
When it comes to ride and handling, the 2009 Toyota Venza earns mixed reviews. The Detroit News finds that the steering feels "slightly disconnected to the road" and likens it to "steering an arcade game," an opinion many reviewers share. The ride itself is pleasant enough, though, and MyRide.com says the 2009 Toyota Venza "does a nice job minimizing body roll," and "while larger wheels often make for a harsher ride, we weren't particularly bothered and thought Toyota did a nice job damping defects in the road." Stopping is a breeze as well, according to ConsumerGuide, which notes "the brakes have excellent pedal feel."
If you plan to take on hills or frequent full loads, then opt for the V-6 on the 2009 Toyota Venza.