2011 Toyota Venza V6 Review & Test Drive


When the Toyota Venza first debuted last year I couldn’t wait to test it out and photograph its beautiful shape.  Here was a new crossover that broke from the traditional boxy styling while still maintaining its very luxurious, refined, functional and versatile interior for both passengers and cargo.

Venza was the firstToyotavehicle to include the STAR Safety System as standard equipment.  Other firsts include a multi-information display that can be customized to adjust the fond size and content and navigation voice instructions available in Spanish, French or English (XM Traffic is only available in English).

The 2011 Venza offers a choice between four-cylinder and V6 engines, both with excellent responsiveness and fuel economy.  Both the four-cylinder and V6 models are available in front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive versions.  Venza’s standard 2.7 liter four-cylinder engine delivers 182hp at 5,800rpm and 182lb.ft. of torque at 4,200rpm.  The four-cylinder Venza is EPA rated at 21mpg/city and 27mpg/highway for the FWD model.

The Venza’s available 3.5 liter V6 produces 268hp at 6,200rpm and 246lb.ft. of torque at 4,700rpm.  The V6 FWD model has EPA-estimated fuel economy ratings of 19mpg/city and 26mpg/highway.

Both engines are mated to a six-speed sequential-shift electronically controlled automatic transmission with intelligence (ECT-i).  The six-speed ECT-I provides a very engaging driving experience and helps optimize fuel economy.  Uphill/downhill shift logic selects the proper gear for driving conditions and helps provide moderate engine braking during downhill driving.

If needed, Venza’s optional Active Torque Control AWD system optimizes torque distribution between the front and rear wheels to help ensure stable acceleration and smooth cornering on all road surfaces.  AWD offers enhanced traction and helps provide excellent overall handling in inclement weather.

Venza was designed with a lower center of gravity than a typical CUV to enhance cornering capability and provide more dynamic handling which is further enhanced by the large, 20X8 inch alloy wheels wrapped with 245/50R20 inch all-season radial tires.  These large wheels and tires are a ‘Toyotafirst’ for a passenger car.

Venza’s body structure relies on high tensile-strength steel, gussets and crossmembers for its strength, rigidity and optimized lower weight.  The front suspension is by rigid L-arm MacPherson struts with a stabilizer bar.  The rear independent suspension is a dual-link MacPherson strut setup with stabilizer bar.  Driving the Venza is more like driving a sport sedan with its lower chassis height, fully independent suspension and large tires and wheels.  Turn-in is quick and precise thanks to the electric power steering with its ideally weighted steering effort.  It also provides and more direct steering feel at both high and low speeds and provides just-right assist when maneuvering the vehicle into tight parking spaces.

Quickly and safely slowing the Venza down from speed are large, power-assisted steel disc brakes.  Up front are 12.8 inch vented discs clamped with dual-piston calipers while 11.7 inch solid discs are clamped with single-piston calipers in the rear.  Standard ABS, EBD and BA ensure you have enough braking power and control during severe or emergency maneuvers.

The Venza is built on a generous 109.3 inch wheelbase and has an overall length of 189 inches and height of 63.4 inches. Toyotaengineers minimized vehicle height while maximizing head room.  The Venza design team’s development focus was to create a new vehicle that shifted away traditional SUV styling themes.  Calty designers leaned toward a sleek sedan-like concept with a lower, wider stance that features a sporty exterior, but also included important SUV attributes, such as cargo space, towing capability and available all-wheel drive performance.

The Venza sports an aerodynamic shape with short overhangs, a forward A-pillar, crisp character lines and a low roofline.  Continuous brushstroke lines run from the signatureToyotafront grille to the D-pillar.  A bold front end features the distinctive grille, headlights and foglamps for a sporty yet refined appearance.  From behind, Venza’s sophisticated and confident appearance is completed with an angled rear hatch, spoiler on top, and wide, wraparound taillight clusters that interconnect with the hatch door.  Tight tire-to-body gaps contribute to its sophisticated, refined appearance and appeal.

The Venza design also offers much practicality.  For example, the rear load-in height is almost as low as that of the Sienna minivan.  An available power liftgate with jam protection detects obstruction in the door’s path and reverses the motor.  Venza’s sweeping rocker panels provide a lower step-over height for improved ergonomics.  The generously sized liftgate opening enhances loading and unloading of cargo.

Venza features a single model grade strategy with an extensive roster of standard equipment including dual-zone automatic climate control with air filter and second row seat vents, a tilt/telescopic adjustable steering wheel with integrated audio controls, an overhead console with map lights, rear seat adjustable personal reading lamps and three 12-volt power plugs.

Venza’s generous utility includes several clever storage locations and lighting.  The adjustable center console features a sliding cover and armrest, three MP3 player holders with wire concealment features, and a larger storage compartment.  The compartment is also equipped with an auxiliary audio jack and 12-volt plug.  The upper portion of the center console houses the gearshift lever for easy and comfortable driver access.  An on/off switch on the overhead console enables front seat occupants to operate all four personal overhead interior lights.

Interior storage is further complemented by a total of 10 front and rear beverage holders

(six bottle holders and four cup holders).  These include dual-illuminated sliding front cupholders in the center console, two in the rear seat armrest, and front and back door bottle holders. The lighted glovebox also has excellent storage of important papers.

Three different audio systems are available for the 2011 Venza.  The standard system includes an AM-FM-six-disc, in-dash CD changer with integrated satellite radio, Bluetooth, MP3/WMA playback capability and six speakers.  The optional JBL Synthesis surround sound audio system includes an AM-FM six-disc in-dash CD changer with integrated satellite radio, MP3/WMA playback capability, Bluetooth, and 13 speakers.

The third system includes a touch-screen DVD Navigation system with 4-disc in-dash CD changer with integrated XM satellite radio, MP3/WMA playback capability, Bluetooth, and 13 speakers.

The Venza interior is designed to enhance driving enjoyment and offer premium comfort.  The available interior colors, ivory and light gray, are available in both leather and fabric.  The flow of the center console creates a unique 60/60 design that gives both driver and front passenger the feeling that 60% of the space is accessible from each of their seating positions.  The front bucket seats are very comfortable and supportive for short or long drives.

The standard Optitron speedometer and tachometer and multi-color center instrument panel display and door switch plates can be paired with optional satin mahogany wood-grain style trim.  Dual-zone automatic climate system controls are centrally located on the upper console, providing easy access for both you and your front passenger.

Personal space lends overall comfort to the vehicle’s interior.  Measurements for head room, shoulder room, hip room and couple distance surpass the competition.  Cargo area utility is enhanced with fold-down 60/40 rear seats, one-touch fold-down seat levers and a tonneau cover that adds security.

Venza’s comprehensive array of standard safety features provides seven airbags, including a driver’s knee airbag, driver/front passenger seat-mounted side airbags, and front and rear side curtain airbags.  Front seat belt pretensioners and load limiters ensure that you and your front passenger will not be injured from the seat belt tightening in the event of a collision.  Driver and front passenger seats employ active headrests.  If the vehicle is struck from behind, a cable-actuated mechanism will move the headrest upward and forward to help limit movement of the occupant’s head.  The LATCH system for child seats is also standard as well as 3-point safety belts for all seats and tire pressure monitoring.

Standard features not mentioned above include 8-way power adjustable driver’s seat, auto-dimming rearview mirror, power-remote sideview mirrors, all express up/down power windows, power door locks, dual lighted vanity mirrors, cruise control, intermittent speed wipers/washers, rear wiper/washer, grab handles above each door, remote keyless entry, Homelink garage door opener, thick cut-pile carpeting, and floor mats.




  • Price: Base Venza V6 $28,300.00
  • Wheelbase: 109.3in.
  • Total length: 189in.
  • Total width: 75in.
  • Total height: 63.4in.
  • Track: f/r-64.2/64.6in.
  • Turning circle: 39.1ft.
  • Step-in-height: 15.3in.
  • Headroom: f/r-38.7/39in.
  • Legroom: f/r-40.2/39.1in.
  • EPA passenger volume: 198cu.ft.
  • EPA cargo room: behind 1st. row-70.1/behind 2nd. row-34.4cu.ft.
  • Fuel tank: 17.7 gallons
  • Towing: 3,500lbs. when properly equipped
  • Curb weight: 3,870lbs. FWD/4,045lbs. AWD
  • 0-60mph: 6.7 seconds
  • EPA fuel mileage: 19mpg/city, 26mpg/highway FWD