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#4

in 2011 Affordable Midsize SUVs

Avg. Price Paid: $17,815 - $22,093
Original MSRP: $27,125 - $30,400
MPG: 21 City / 27 Hwy
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2011 Toyota Venza Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

The Venza's performance is especially car-like for an SUV. Its four-cylinder and V6 engines also provide plenty of power, according to reviewers.

  • "Not quite as car-like as a Kia Rondo or Subaru Outback, but Venza never feels ponderous. It's competent and controlled in most every situation, but tight, fast turns make for pronounced body lean. Steering feel is good, and the brakes have excellent pedal feel. All-wheel drive is a plus for slick roads." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The refined 3.5-liter V6 engine provides plenty of power and 20 mpg overall. Handling is secure but the steering is short on feedback, hurting agility. The jittery ride is un-Toyota-like, partly because of the V6's huge 20-inch wheels." --Consumer Reports
  • "Sporty? Well, we did get a chance to hustle around in the Venza -- in three different versions, in fact -- and found the car's handling and performance supports spirited brake-and-throttle exercises on winding two-lane highways. In the rain, yet." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "Performance: Good; rides smaller than body looks from the outside but still provides plenty of power. The V-6 outperforms the four-cylinder engine and is much more spirited on the road." -- Detroit News
  • "As good as the Camry sedan is for family duties, there's not much fun to be had from behind the wheel. We expected the Venza to offer the same experience. But Toyota's goal was to inject a little fun into the formula. The results are quite good." -- Popular Mechanics

Acceleration and Power

The Venza comes with a 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 182 horsepower, while a 3.5-liter 268-horsepower V6 is optional. Most test drivers say the V6 is the better choice, especially for spirited driving.

The EPA says a Venza with the base engine and front-wheel drive will get 21 miles per gallon in the city and 29 on the highway. For V6 front-wheel drive Venzas, the EPA estimates gas mileage at 19/26 city/highway. With all-wheel drive, four-cylinder Venzas get 20/28 city/highway and V6 Venzas get 18/25 city/highway. For a midsize SUV, those figures are excellent.

  • "With front-wheel drive, the 4-cylinder has just adequate power for around-town driving. It strains going up hills, and highway passing and merging require lots of room. The V6 is the better choice here, as it provides plenty of power for most any need." -- Consumer Guide
  • "There's nothing to complain about with the V6, but the Venza's base four-cylinder engine is better than you think it is. For starters, it's cheaper." -- Edmunds
  • "The V-6 makes the Venza outright fast. It produces 268 horsepower and 246 pound-feet of torque -- making it more powerful than the CX-7 and just a few ponies more than the Edge." -- Detroit News
  • "The V-6 was obviously much more enjoyable and fun to drive. It had plenty of power in most situations. The engine still erupted loudly when the gas pedal was hammered hard, but its 268 hp is put to good use." -- Cars.com
  • "The V-6 is a livelier choice, with 86 more horses and 64 pound-feet more torque. Even so, there were times on inclines when the six-speed was too quick to shift and ended up doing a lot of hunting. Sport mode helped, as it held shifts longer and also left things in the driver's hands." -- Motor Trend

Handling and Braking

Auto writers consider the handling of the Toyota Venza to be especially good for an SUV. However, despite its Camry platform, test drivers find the Venza still doesn't maneuver as well as a car -- which of course would be a tall order for any SUV. If you're looking for crisper handling, the Mazda CX-7 and Nissan Murano deliver.

  • "No, you won't mistake the Venza for a high-strung sports machine. But on the snaky country roads covered in fall foliage, we found the Venza's moves to be fairly athletic. The ride remained smooth over rough patches too. The Venza doesn't feel heavy or cumbersome as many crossovers do, compared to cars." -- Popular Mechanics
  • "The steering was surprisingly responsive. Most Toyotas these days have vague steering feel, but the Venza's electronic steering is pinpoint and sharp -- dare I say it's like most Hondas? When taking sharp turns or traversing windy roads, there was little of the type of body lean you'd associate with an SUV. To me, the Venza outhandles a Camry any day." -- Cars.com
  • "The suspension is adept at equalizing the ruthless topographies of uneven, cracked, re-tarred and potholed roads. The steering offers a resistance that is un-Toyota-like: even on the firm side leaning well over into sporting." -- Autoblog
  • "Regardless of engine choice, we found the electronic power steering far more linear, predictable and properly weighted in the all-wheel-drive models versus a duller, almost chunky steering feel in the front-drivers." -- AutoWeek
  • "Steering is more responsive here than in the Highlander, and it is more fun in turns than in a typical SUV, but as far as driving satisfaction is concerned, the Venza is still no substitute for a car." -- Motor Trend

Next Steps: 2011 Toyota Venza

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