I drove the 2014 Toyota Venza last week and loved it so much, I actually told my parents, who were in the market for a new car, to go test drive it immediately. Which they did. They loved it so much, they bought it on the spot. Seriously. Even though I told them to sleep on it for 24 hours. I wrote my review for DriveChicago on Thursday. They bought the car on Friday.
What is it that makes the Venza so great? Phenomenal cargo capacity, nice ride and handling and a really zippy up-level V-6 engine. The small crossover was easy to maneuver in city traffic as well as comfortable on long highway drives. The Venza is kind of a sleeper for Toyota -- and not a boring kind of why. People just drift to the RAV4 instead because it's better known and has a more masculine SUV look. However, I'd argue Venza is one of the best vehicles Toyota makes. It's fun, peppy and has unique styling.
I did have a small issue with the Entune app suite -- and even though people have commented on my rant explaining the issue, I'm still not satisfied.
The other thing I noticed is that the Venza is a bit bulky in parallel parking situations. Thank goodness for a rear backup camera! It drives so small that you might think it'll fit in a much smaller spot. It won't, and the camera keeps you honest.
Base price for the Venza is $27,950 with a 4-cylinder engine. As-tested price for the XLE with a V-6 was $37,790.
Chicago-worthy rating: 8. I think this is a solid suburban vehicle. It's perfect for a family that needs to haul a kid's hockey gear or for empty nesters who make frequent trips to buy plants for the yard and pick up visiting relatives with bulky luggage. While the Venza handles really well in urban traffic and it's comfortable in long commutes, it gets the urban ding because fuel economy tops out at 26 mpg on the highway for the front-wheel drive model. It gets another ding for the parallel parking factor. If you didn't get a model with either the backup camera (which isn't standard at a base level) or backup sensors (also not standard), you might fall into the Chicago habit of "park by touch," which is a very bad habit. But, if you have an urban to suburban commute and occasionally haul people or stuff, this is a must-test. It might even be a must-buy.
For the full review, read it on DriveChicago.com.
For my trunk-ed up look at the Venza, visit girlinthetrunk.com.
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