Toyota Introduces Venza—A Cheaper R-Class

January 14, 2008

Being a stickler for truth, all the marketing hype from manufacturers about "creating new segments" isn't just getting old, it's tired and completely meaningless. Notice to marketing and PR wonks, "Cut it out, already." Simply present your new vehicles for what they are. The market, if it cares, will tell you what it thinks it is and what it competes against.

Case in point, the new Toyota Venza. It's going to be a hit. Toyota rightly recognized the trend away from mid- and full-size SUVs, and have created an unabashedly car-like and practical crossover that has no pretensions of being truck-like or rugged. Broadly speaking, nearly identical to the Mercedes R-Class in concept, only Toyota's will be reasonable priced at about $25,000 starting for a four-cylinder version with V-6 models probably starting around $30,000. Following the Keep It Simple Stupid principle, only one trim level will be offered. Based on the well-appointed interior we saw on the display vehicle, the standard issue Venza won't be a stripper in terms of features. Toyota claims that V-6 models will be rated to tow 3,500 pounds.

The five-passenger Venza is sedan based (Camry/Avalon) and features a slightly taller overall stance and roofline. The profile's sloping greenhouse prevents the shape from being classified as a traditional station wagon while providing SUV-like cargo-carrying capabilities. The driver's POV is sedan-like, just slightly higher. The car's height makes cargo loading and ingress/egress much easier than a full-size SUV. Cool options included a large, paneled sunroof that we've seen before on the Pontiac G6. V-6 models get 20-inch tires and wheels, with the four-bangers getting 19s.

The 2009 Venza was designed at Toyota's studio in California and engineered at the manufacturer's Ann Arbor, Michigan facility. It will be built alongside the Camry and Avalon at the Georgetown, Kentucky plant.

In typical Toyota form, they've got all the bases covered for the general market. Along with a host of expected dynamic safety features, stability control is also standard. Inside, passive safety features include seven total air bags, include knee bags for the driver.

Be sure to check out the rest of our 2008 Detroit coverage.

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