Road Trip: 2009 Toyota Venza - EXCLUSIVE VIDEO
Take a Road Trip with The Auto Channel in Toyota's all new crossover vehicle the 2009 Toyota Venza
Produced and edited by Marc J. Rauch
In this episode of ROAD TRIP, Mark Fulmer is joined by Bob Zeinstra, Toyota's National Product Marketing Director, to take an in-depth look at the new 2009 Toyota Venza.
To ride along just click on the PLAY button below
SEE ALSO: Toyota New Car Buyers Guide
The new 2009 Toyota Venza, is a versatile five-passenger vehicle that couples the styling and comfort of a passenger car with the flexibility of a sport utility vehicle (SUV), to give customers a stylish alternative to the traditional sedan.
With excellent fuel economy, innovative design, outstanding front and rear headroom and excellent value, Venza raises the bar for ride comfort and utility.
"Venza establishes an exciting new direction in passenger car design that will combine the finest attributes of Toyota's diverse vehicle lineup," said Bob Carter, Toyota Division group vice president and general manager. "It caters to buyers who are looking for the value and reliability of a Camry, the comfort and upscale refinement of an Avalon, and the utility and flexibility of a Highlander in one very stylish and sporty package. "The Venza will represent Toyota's latest commitment to driving change in the marketplace."
The 2009 Toyota Venza is targeted at an emerging section of the market that prioritizes sleek styling, excellent handling and road manners, combined with a surprising amount of utility. Specifically, Venza offers bold and expressive styling; on-road performance; luxurious and refined interior; and SUV-like flexibility such as all-wheel drive (AWD), foldable rear seats, large cargo area, higher driver sightline, and up to 3,500 lbs. towing.
The overall dimensions are unique as well. Ease of entry and exit is achieved by lowering the rocker panels and narrowing the doorsills. As a result, the sweeping integrated rocker panels give great ingress/egress, yet the sightline is higher than Camry. The rear load-in height is lower than Camry and almost as low as the Sienna van.
In addition to an array of standard equipment, Toyota Venza will use a single grade strategy with simplified packages and stand-alone options that will include an impressive list of comfort and utility features. Many are new to the Toyota lineup and typically found on luxury vehicles. Some of the features include: high intensity discharge headlamps with an automatic high beam feature that detects oncoming vehicles and automatically switches the headlamps from high- to low-beam; chrome-accented door handles on the front side doors that lock and unlock all four doors and rear hatch door; panoramic roof with power tilt/slide function and a separate fixed glass panel over the rear seats; and power windows with auto up/down function and jam protection on all four doors.
Other firsts include, a multi-information display that can be customized to adjust the font size and content. The navigation voice instructions are available in Spanish, French or English. Venza is the first Toyota passenger car to offer Star Safety as standard equipment for all models.
Venza's blending of car-like handling and SUV cargo capacity demonstrates not only the current state of Toyota's product development process, but also a tangible sign of where Toyota's design philosophy is heading. Designers and engineers sought to create a new car which provides enhanced interior utility and improved dynamic performance when compared to sedans or midsize SUVs. The result is a package with an aggressive stance and a more engaging driving experience.
All aspects of Venza's engineering and design were targeted specifically for the North American market, where it will be sold exclusively. Venza was primarily engineered at Toyota Technical Center in Ann Arbor, Mich. The design was the creation of Toyota's Calty Design studios in Newport Beach, Calif. and Ann Arbor, Mich. Venza will be assembled at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky (TMMK), in Georgetown, Ky., home of the Camry, Solara and Avalon. More than seventy percent of its components will come from North American suppliers.
The development focus of the Venza design team was to create a new vehicle that shifted away from the more traditional SUV styling themes prevalent in today's market. Calty designers leaned more heavily on a sleek sedan concept with a wide stance that featured a sporty exterior, but also included important SUV attributes such as cargo space, towing capability and all-wheel drive performance.
The exterior design begins with an imposing front end featuring a distinctive grille, headlights and fog lamps for an aggressive, yet refined appearance. Overall, the vehicle has an aerodynamic shape with short overhangs, forward A-pillar, crisp character lines, and a low roofline and ground clearance. Continuous brushstroke lines run from the front grille to the D-pillar.
From behind, Venza's sophisticated and confident appearance is complete with an angled rear hatch, spoiler and wide wraparound tail lights that interconnect with the hatch door.
Venza's sweeping rocker panels achieve a lower step-over height for improved ergonomics. Its sizeable rear hatch opening enhances the vehicle's utility. The Venza rides on large wheels, providing an aggressive and sure-footed look.
The 2009 Venza has an overall height of 63.4 inches, overall length of 189 inches, and a wheel base of 109.3 inches. Toyota engineers minimized vehicle height while maximizing head clearance and decreasing tire-to-body gaps to improve overall styling and appearance.
Personal space lends overall comfort to the vehicle's interior. Measurements for head clearance, shoulder room, hip room and couple distance surpass cross-shopped vehicles. Venza's additional utility, located in the rear cargo area, is realized with fold-down 60/40 rear seats; one-touch fold-down seat levers; and a tonneau cover.
Comfort and Convenience
Venza's technological refinements allow occupants to enjoy the pleasures of personal road travel. The new Venza is equipped with an assortment of standard features on all models. Among the many exterior features are the integrated fog lamps, privacy glass and roof-mounted XM® satellite radio antenna. The standard rear door includes an easy-close function or electrically-powered cinch function that ensures the vehicle's hatch door is not left partially ajar.
Interior features include dual-zone automatic climate control with air filter and second row seat vents to create a sense of enhanced comfort. A tilt/telescopic adjustable steering wheel with integrated audio controls is also standard.
Cruise control, an overhead console with map lights, rear seat adjustable personal reading lamps and three 12-volt power outlets combine to offer a nice array of standard features.
Venza's surprising utility includes several clever storage locations and functional lighting. Standard storage features such as an adjustable center console with sliding cover and armrest, three MP3 player holders with wire concealment features and large storage compartment remove clutter. The compartment is also equipped with an auxiliary audio jack and 12-volt power outlet. The upper portion of the center console houses the gear-shift lever for easy and comfortable driver access. Map pockets and bottle holders are integrated into the driver and front passenger doors to provide additional storage. An on/off switch on the overhead console enables front seat occupants to turn on or off 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) that include dual-illuminated sliding front cup holders in the center console, two in the rear seat armrest, and front and back door bottle holders.
Three different audio systems are available. The standard audio system includes an AM/FM six-disc, in-dash CD changer with integrated satellite radio, MP3/WMA playback capability and six speakers.
Optional audio equipment is available with JBL Synthesis® surround sound AM/FM six-disc in-dash CD changer with integrated satellite radio, MP3/WMA playback capability, hands-free phone capability via Bluetooth® wireless technology and 13 speakers.
For the ultimate audio experience, also available is a voice-activated, touch-screen, sixth-generation DVD navigation system with a JBL Synthesis® surround sound AM/FM four-disc, in-dash CD changer with integrated satellite radio with XM® NavTraffic, MP3/WMA playback capability, hands-free phone capability and music streaming via Bluetooth® wireless technology and 13 speakers.
Passengers can enjoy an available rear seat DVD entertainment system that features JBL Synthesis® surround sound, nine-inch display, two wireless headphones, a remote, an auxiliary mini-jack, a 120-volt outlet and RCA mini-jacks.
Performance: Engines and Drivetrain
Venza offers two engines to give customers more flexibility when considering their driving needs. In both engines, advancements in fuel economy are achieved by utilization of lighter weight materials for the cylinder block and components.
New to the Toyota line-up and standard on Venza is the fuel-efficient 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine which will deliver 182 horsepower at 5,800 rpm and 182 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,200 rpm. Toyota's internal estimates for Venza fuel economy are 21 MPG city/29 MPG highway on the FWD model.
A 3.5-liter V6 that will produce 268 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 246 lb.-ft of torque at 4,700 rpm is also available. The V6 FWD has EPA-estimated fuel economy ratings of 19 MPG city/26 MPG 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 fun driving experience and helps improve fuel economy. On all models, Venza also employs uphill/downhill shift logic control that selects the proper gear for driving conditions and helps provide moderate engine braking during downhill driving.
The V6 and four-cylinder models are available in front- and AWD configurations. Venza's Active Torque Control AWD System optimizes torque distribution between the front and rear wheels to help ensure stable acceleration and smooth cornering. AWD offers enhanced traction and helps provide excellent overall handling in inclement weather.
Handling and Ride
Venza was designed with a lower center of gravity to help provide dynamic handling, which is further enhanced with large wheels and tires. The four-cylinder models ride on 10-spoke, 19-inch aluminum alloy wheels. Distinctive 20-inch five-spoke aluminum alloy wheels are standard for the V6 model and a first for a Toyota passenger car. Power-assisted ventilated front/solid rear disc brakes are standard on all models.
Venza features a body structure that relies on high tensile-strength steel, gussets and crossmembers for its strength, rigidity and lighter weight. Front suspension is a rigid L-arm-type MacPherson strut with a stabilizer bar, and rear suspension is a dual-link MacPherson strut with stabilizer bar. The wheelbase-to-overall length ratio lends itself to improved stability.
Electronic power steering (EPS) is employed to minimize steering effort and provide a ride experience more like that of a sedan. EPS helps provide a more direct steering feel at both high and low speeds, and assists when manuveuring the vehicle into tight parking spaces.
Toyota's STAR Safety System is standard on all Venza models and features ABS with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), enhanced Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) and Traction Control (TRAC) systems with a cutoff switch, and Brake Assist. VSC automatically adjusts engine output and the vehicle's braking force at each wheel to help control loss of traction during cornering. TRAC helps maintain traction during challenging driving conditions. Brake Assist is designed to determine if the driver is attempting emergency braking. If the driver has not stepped firmly enough on the brake pedal to engage ABS, Brake Assist supplements the applied braking power until the driver releases the pedal.
Hill-Start Assist Control (HAC), standard on all models, temporarily provides pressure to the brakes while the vehicle is stopped on an incline to help ensure easy starting with no rollback. Hydraulic brake compensation provides maximum braking power in a panic situation.
Venza is equipped with a comprehensive list of other standard safety features. It provides a total of seven airbags, including a driver's knee airbag, driver and front passenger front seat-mounted side airbags, and front and rear roll-sensing side curtain airbags. Front seat belt pretensioners with force limiters cinch the seat belt at the time of a frontal collision, and the dual-stage force limiter helps limit the seat belt force applied to the driver and passenger's chest.
Driver and front passenger seats employ active headrests. If the vehicle is struck from the rear, a cable-actuated mechanism will move the headrest upward and forward to help limit the movement of the occupant's head.
Additional options for Venza include power rear door with jam protection; Smart Key System with push button start; leather-trimmed seats; rear bumper protector; tow hitch; roof rack; carpeted floor mats; and a cargo mat. A full line of pet products such as a rear hatch pet ramp, booster seat with harness, pet buckles and rear seat zipline-style harnesses are available at Toyota dealerships. Other items include pet carriers, bucket seat, bench seat and hammock-style waterproof seat covers.
Color and Trim
Available exterior colors include: Aloe Green Metallic, Tropical Sea Metallic, Barcelona Red Metallic, Sunset Bronze Mica, Golden Umber Mica, Magnetic Gray Metallic, Classic Silver Metallic, Blizzard Pearl and Black. In addition, available interior colors are ivory and light gray. Both interior colors are available in both leather and fabric.
The 2009 Venza is covered by Toyota's 36-month/36,000-mile basic new-vehicle warranty that applies to all components other than normal wear and maintenance items. Additional 60-month warranties cover the powertrain for 60,000 miles and corrosion perforation with no mileage limitation.