Sometimes you just don’t have a good day. Something happens in the morning that puts you behind schedule, or someone makes a comment that bugs you all day. Sometimes your bad day can turn into a bad week and sometimes your bad week can turn into a bad month. You never really know what the future brings. All you do know is that you want all these bad things to just stop so your life can start over again. This is how Toyota must be feeling. Toyota is just not having a good year so far. As far as I can tell here, they have had to issue at least 4 recalls in the past few months and have had to terminate selling certain vehicles all together. When they are in the news, it’s most certainly bad news and now when you think of the brand you no longer think superior quality. We are keeping all of this out of consideration while testing our new Toyota vehicles in the garage this month. To us, Toyota is still synonymous with “beige excellence” and this 2010 Toyota Venza is no different.
The Toyota Venza is a crossover SUV, or maybe its more of a station wagon, or maybe its like a mini-vanish soccer mom thing – I’m not really sure and I don’t think the Venza knows what it wants to be either. What I do know, however, is that this is a comfortable long distance cruiser that eats up the highway miles. Our Venza was equipped with the 3.5 liter V6 with a 6 speed automatic transmission and all wheel drive. Horsepower comes in at 268 and 246 lb-ft of torque, and with a curb weight of just over 4,000 lbs the Venza actually felt quick when you wanted it to be. This doesn’t mean that it was good around the corners. Fling it into a corner with any speed, and despite the AWD system, you get understeer and loads of tire squeal. Who really wants to drive this thing “enthusiastically” anyway? Leave the auto transmission out of manual mode, lean back in your comfortable leather seats, set your climate to your desired setting, and cruise.
Little things that the Venza did right and unique included the integrated cord hider and phone/iPod holder built into the center console. The interior was efficiently laid out with accents of nice materials worked into it. It also came with all the convenience and comforts you’d want, including a backup camera, memory seating, storage for everything, push button start, easy folding rear seats, and a mirror with compass and homelink. The Venza also had ample leg room no matter where you sat, and was comfortable on any road surface you come across. On the other hand, some things did go wrong. Mainly with the power lift gate. It worked sporadically, so we spent most of our time putting it up and down manually. The button to open the life gate on the exterior handle was another issue, it’s not centered in the handle. When you reach down to push the button, all you feel is the light that illuminates your license plate. Just to the right of that is the button you’re actually trying to find, and you have to almost break your back to get low enough to see it, and that’s just confusing.
Our test Venza also had the optional panoramic glass roof with front power tilt and slide moon-roof. Also included was the voice activated DVD touchscreen infotainment system. These are always great if you don’t mind ponying up the extra $3,600. That’s just the start of it, though. The premium package with the leather covered everything – what wasn’t covered in leather was done up in satin mahogany wood-grain trim – comes in at a whopping $4,345. In total, our test car weighed in at $38,984 and although it was luxurious, comfortable, and great on the road, I’m not sure I’d pay that kind of money for a car-wagon-thingy with an identity crisis.