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PERFORMANCE | 7 out of 10
4-cylinder has just adequate power for around-town driving
Venza's maximum towing capacity is 3500 pounds
The 268-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 is the better choice in our book
Car and Driver
Off-roading isn't part of the 2010 Toyota 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.
Motor Trend clarifies that the Venza is offered 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 says that "with front-wheel drive, the four-cylinder has just adequate power," and the 2010 Toyota Venza "strains going up hills, and highway passing and merging require lots of room." In the V-6 version, ConsumerGuide reports "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." Automobile Magazine states that the Venza's "maximum towing capacity is 3500 pounds, which is strong for such a vehicle."
Both engines in the 2010 Venza, whether with front- or all-wheel drive, team with a six-speed automatic transmission that fares well with reviewers. Cars.com notes that "the same six-speed automatic is much smoother" with the V-6, while ConsumerGuide clarifies that, "though smooth with both engines, the transmission is far busier with the four-cylinder than the V-6." The Detroit News, however, is impressed even with the four-cylinder/six-speed combination, asserting that the transmission was "never searching through the gears as it adjusted to the changing terrain."
Crossover vehicles typically offer fuel economy that's better than traditional SUVs but not as good as sedans, and the Venza is no exception. The V-6 doesn't lag far behind the four-cylinder, but the 2010 Toyota Venza four-cylinder, front-wheel-drive model is tops at 21 mpg city, 29 highway. For the Venza Toyota V-6 AWD, drivers can expect 18 mpg city, 25 highway.
Most reviewers report that the Toyota Venza handles safely but without much excitement. The Detroit News finds that the steering feels "slightly disconnected to the road" and likens it to "steering an arcade game," a sentiment shared by many reviewers. The ride itself is pleasant enough, though, and MyRide.com says that the 2010 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." ConsumerGuide is one of few sources to report on braking; they note that "the brakes have excellent pedal feel."
Don’t expect excitement in the Venza driving experience; the four-cylinder engine is the choice for frugal drivers, but those who drive with a full load might want the V-6.