in Affordable Midsize SUVs

MSRP: $27,950 - $39,570
Invoice: $25,575 - $36,008
MPG: 20 City / 26 Hwy
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Toyota Venza Performance

While reviewers say that the 2014 Toyota Venza offers a comfortable ride, some also note that the base engine is underpowered. Additionally, some say that the Venza’s brake pedal feels soft and its steering doesn't offer much road feel. Some test drivers compare the Venza to the Toyota Camry, in that its ride is more comfort-oriented rather than exciting.

  • "We've said that the Highlander SUV, also a Camry derivative, drives like a really tall Camry wagon. Scratch the really tall part and you'll have the Venza's driving dynamics in a nutshell. From the driver's seat, you're simply not aware of the Venza's added height, except when you glance around at stoplights and realize you're looking down on regular cars." -- AutoTrader
  • "Once you're perched in its driver seat, the Venza feels a little wagon-esque. Though it has a raised ride height, you don't get quite a commanding view of the road. It's more like the 2013 Subaru Outback in this way. However, it does feel more carlike, both in terms of visual perception and driving experience." -- Edmunds (2013)
  • "Like the Camry and Highlander upon which it is based, Venza isn't an excitement machine." -- Consumer Guide (2012)

Acceleration and Power

The 2014 Toyota Venza comes standard with a 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 181 horsepower. An optional 3.5-liter V6 produces 268 horsepower. A six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive are standard, and all-wheel drive is optional. A front-wheel drive Venza with the four-cylinder engine nets an EPA-estimated 20/26 mpg city/highway, while V6 models average up to 19/26 mpg with front-wheel drive. The Venza's fuel economy is comparable with other two-row midsize SUVs’.

Most reviewers say that the V6 option is the better choice, as they say the Venza is sluggish with the base four-cylinder engine. Additionally, some point out that there is a minimal fuel economy penalty for upgrading to the V6. Still, some critics say that that the Venza is loud and unrefined with either engine.

  • "While the most cost-effective way to get into a 2014 Venza is to purchase the entry-level model with the 4-cylinder engine, we don't think most people will be happy with the results. The Venza is not a lightweight machine and the tepid 181-horsepower engine just isn't up to the task of merging or accelerating with any great urgency. If you're going to get a Venza wagon, get it with the V6." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The Venza starts with front-wheel drive and a 2.7-liter inline-4 that's good for 182 horsepower and 182 lb-ft of torque. We'd be more forgiving of this engine's mediocre acceleration if it delivered exceptional fuel economy, but 21 miles per gallon city and 27 mpg highway isn't all that great when the 4-cylinder Camry is rated at 35 mpg." -- AutoTrader
  • "While the base four-cylinder engine delivers adequate power, we'd recommend paying extra for the V6. Not only does it provide quicker acceleration than its myriad competitors, but also its fuel economy is almost equal to that of the four-cylinder." -- Edmunds (2013)
  • "Both engines are loud and unrefined, with the 4-cylinder producing a strained groan during full-throttle acceleration. The V6 sounds better, but not by a whole lot; at least it's quiet at cruising speeds, unlike the 4-cylinder." -- Consumer Guide (2013)

Handling and Braking

Test drivers say that the Venza's ride is fairly comfortable, though some dislike the presence of body roll through fast turns, and the brake pedal’s soft feel. One reviewer also complains about the lack of steering feel, saying that more feedback would make the Venza more fun to drive.

  • "In corners, the Venza's steering is surprisingly precise and responsive for this kind of vehicle, and body roll is held to moderate levels as long as you're not pushing too hard." -- AutoTrader
  • "On the road, the Venza's steering feels reasonably well connected but the wheel can feel a bit heavy at slower speeds." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Fast turns result in marked body lean. The steering feels fine, but some test vehicles suffered from a mushy brake pedal." -- Consumer Guide (2013)
  • "If it weren't for the vague feel of its electric-assist steering, the Venza might actually be interesting to drive instead of merely pleasant." -- Edmunds (2013)
Review Last Updated: 5/16/14

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