2014 Toyota Venza Performance

7.0
Performance
Make no mistake: the 2014 Toyota Venza is not a sporty vehicle. If you're after a family mover that doubles as a weekend speed machine, look elsewhere.

That said, the Venza isn't a slug, either. Comfortable, competent, and confidence inspiring, the Venza offers more stable-seeming and car-like ride and handling than most crossovers. In many respects, it feels like a heavier, taller Camry wagon behind the wheel.

Venza shoppers have a choice of two engines, either of which are available with front- or all-wheel drive: a 182-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder, or a 268-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6. Both engines are close in their EPA gas mileage ratings, with the four-cylinder rating as high as 20 mpg city and 26 mpg highway; the V-6 AWD scores 18/25 mpg. Venza V-6 models can add an optional Towing Prep Package that allows up to 3,500 pounds of towing capacity.

Competent and capable, the 2014 Venza drives much like a taller Camry--but don't expect any excitement behind the wheel.

Sitting relatively high up, the driver is presented with a driving experience that's more minivan than SUV, with soft suspension tuning and numb steering. Those traits make it easy to drive, but sap any possibility of excitement. The large 20-inch wheels look good from the curb, but add a noticeable degree of ride harshness without any performance benefit. Power is adequate even with the four-cylinder engine, but the V-6 gives the Venza a smoother, stronger feel that resembles the Lexus RX 350's nature.

With all-wheel drive and a high-riding stance, you might think the Venza is up to off-road duty, but you'd be wrong. The all-wheel-drive system is intended for inclement weather, not tackling the Rubicon.

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