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The Toyota Venza rides and handles like a car, but offers the cargo space of an SUV. It's more utilitarian than an ordinary car, yet it's smaller and lower than an SUV. Venza comes with premium equipment and attributes normally associated with SUVs.
The Venza is built on the Camry platform, and made in the same plant in Georgetown, Kentucky. But the Venza is more than an upscale, contemporary rendition of a Camry station wagon. The Venza is more original than that, and more functional, loaded with a mix of highly evolved features and fresh design ideas. Venza compares most closely with the Honda Accord Crosstour.
It's essentially a tall car, with a roomy, cleverly designed interior, that can handle the hauling tasks that make SUVs a popular choice. It's a family car, a good daily runabout that's easy to drive and park. And it's highly useful, for moving people, pets and grocery-getting. We found it spacious and comfortable.
Venza is available with a 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine or a 3.5-liter V6, both backed by a six-speed automatic transmission. It's available in all-wheel-drive (AWD) and front-wheel-drive (FWD) configurations.
The four-cylinder makes 182 horsepower and 182 pound-feet of torque and gets an EPA-estimated 21/29 mpg City/Highway. The V6 is rated at 268 horsepower and 246 pound-feet of torque and is rated at 18/25 mpg with all-wheel drive.
Venza was launched as a 2009, and the only changes for 2010 involve the audio system. 2010 Venza models come with iPod connectivity, a USB port, and Bluetooth.
On the road, the Venza feels like a car. It rides smoothly and quietly and steers easily. We were impressed with its stability on slippery roads, whether equipped with all-wheel drive or not. Although there are some SUV attributes, such as the higher seat height and a high degree of cargo versatility, from the driver's seat you'd swear you were in a four-door sedan.
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