Comfortable... enough

2013 Toyota Venza AWD Review

By Miranda Lightstone
2013 Toyota Venza AWD Review

Summary Rating: 72%

Styling

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Accessories

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Space and Access

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Comfort

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Performance

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Driving Dynamics

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Safety

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General Appreciation

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Long roads reveal much
It’s interesting how quickly opinions are formed. However, it’s the lasting impressions that matter the most. I rather liked the idea of the 2013 Toyota Venza AWD at first, but after spending an extended period with it, my affections quickly dwindled.

It’s not that the Venza is a bad car, just that its shortcomings will surface sooner rather than later, and that’s a bit of a shame. I really do like the idea of the 2013 Toyota Venza, if only a few tweaks were made here and there.


What is a Toyota Venza?
The Toyota Venza, first introduced in North America in 2008, is essentially a larger Toyota Camry. Based on the same chassis, the Venza falls into that lovely grey area of crossover/wagon/SUV. Personally, I think the Venza is more of a wagon than a crossover as it’s more carlike, however, I know there are those who would disagree.

Offering more space and AWD, the Toyota Venza’s engines have remained unchanged since its introduction, and as far as looks go, have remained relatively unchanged as well.

2013 Toyota Venza AWD 2013 3/4 view
First introduced in North America in 2008, the Venza is essentially a larger Toyota Camry.(Photo: Philippe Champoux)

Technicalities
The 2013 Toyota Venza is available in four different trim levels: base, Venza V6, Venza AWD and the Venza V6 AWD. The base and AWD feature Toyota’s 2.7L 4-cylinder engine (182 hp), while the others are equipped with a 3.5L V6 (268 hp). There are also a few packages available from a Premium Package (for enhanced seats and amenities) to a Touring & JBL Package for the audiophiles out there.

Power is managed via a 6-speed automatic across the lineup, no manual is available.

Pricing starts at a decent $28,690 for a base 2013 Toyota Venza. However, once you get into the Toyota Venza V6 AWD zone (with a Touring & JBL Package), you’re looking close to $40k. My as-tested Venza AWD with Touring Package was sitting pretty at $36,545 -- a decent price for the amenities offered, in my opinion.

2013 Toyota Venza AWD engine
The base and AWD feature Toyota’s 2.7L 4-cylinder engine (182 hp), while the others are equipped with a 3.5L V6 (268 hp). (Photo: Toyota)

Driving the Toyota Venza
A driver’s car the 2013 Toyota Venza most definitely is not. While I appreciated the solid-feeling handling and surefootedness of the AWD (even though our winter months are blissfully behind us), that’s where the likes end.

Perhaps I’d feel differently about the 3.5L V6, but the 4-cylinder just felt lazy and tired to me. Too many times the automatic transmission struggled to find the appropriate gear, and when asked to ramp up the pace for highway merges and traffic manoeuvres, the 2013 Toyota Venza AWD felt a bit out of sorts.

The brakes were also rather lacking. I hadn’t really noticed it until we loaded up the vehicle to help a family member move. With a loaded trunk, the backseat full of my son, mother-in-law and even more bags, and the front with my husband and I, the empty top portion of the brake pedal seemed to grow even larger. I found myself having to stomp harder than I wanted just to bring the 2013 Toyota Venza to a stop.

Gas mileage was impressive in the 2013 Toyota Venza with my final number hitting the 9.9L/100km mark.

2013 Toyota Venza AWD rear 3/4 view
A driver’s car the 2013 Toyota Venza most definitely is not. While I appreciated the solid-feeling handling and surefootedness of the AWD, that’s where the likes end. (Photo: Philippe Champoux)

Inside and Out of the Toyota Venza

Where I do like the 2013 Toyota Venza is from the outside. Facelifted in 2012, the new front facia looks awesome. A touch of LED will do a car’s front end wonders, and such is the case with the 2013 Toyota Venza AWD.

Inside, the 2013 Toyota Venza AWD seems comfortable, but let me explain. Sure, the backseat is quire cavernous and able to accommodate three adults comfortably or two seemingly in their own zip codes. However, it’s up front where things get dicey.

Let’s start with the good: I adore the centre console ripe with storage bins, sliding bits and so many ports for plugs and wires I was giddy at the thought of all the things I could charge on our 2-hour+ drive. One of the cupholders is, unfortunately, a bit close to the shift knob and so makes accessing drinks awkward. The onboard entertainment system is easy to use, as are the steering-wheel mounted buttons and controls.

Now, the bad: The seats! While seemingly comfortable at first, by the time we began return journey home my back was a mess. No matter how I adjusted the seat and lumbar support, my tailbone felt as if it were being crushed.

2013 Toyota Venza AWD seats
The backseat is quire cavernous and able to accommodate three adults comfortably or two seemingly in their own zip codes. (Photo: Philippe Champoux)

Comparing the Toyota Venza
The Venza stands amongst some pretty stiff competition with the likes of the Honda Crosstour, Subaru Outback and Chevrolet Equinox. Each has specific areas that clearly outshine the Toyota Venza (Crosstour: interior, Outback: AWD, Equinox: interior space); however, perhaps it’s the 2013 Toyota Venza’s “happy medium for the right price” that will help set it apart from the pack.

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