The 2011 Toyota Venza is hard to define, but whether you call it "wagon" or "crossover," it's a competitive and comfortable family vehicle.
It's a wagon. It's a crossover. It has cartoony 19-inch dubs, yet has a ride your grandmother would like and a name she'd confuse with a drug she saw advertised during Jeopardy! The 2011 Toyota Venza is a strange creation, one rife with contradictions and difficult to properly define. There is one thing we're sure of, though; it makes a great family vehicle.
The Venza has the basic body dimensions and interior space of a midsize crossover SUV -- think Ford Edge or Nissan Murano -- but with one significant exception: The Venza is nearly 4 inches shorter in height than its rivals, and technically this puts it in the same camp as a wagon, not a crossover. Its wagon-style dimensions also make the Venza feel more like a car from behind the wheel compared to Toyota crossovers like the Highlander and RAV4, although we certainly wouldn't call it athletic. Instead, like other Toyotas, the Venza puts an emphasis on comfort and ease of driving.
The Venza's strange body style isn't the only thing that stands out, however. Unlike with most midsize crossovers, the Venza features a four-cylinder base engine. This provides sufficient power, but given that the bigger V6 achieves similar fuel economy, it would be foolhardy to not at least consider shelling out a few more bucks for the big engine. This is one of the best -- and possibly the top -- V6s in the crossover class. If that weren't incentive enough, going with the V6 gets you even bigger, 20-inch wheels.
In the front cabin, the Venza is filled with a variety of innovative storage solutions. By placing the shift lever up high on the center console, space opens up for several storage bins. You don't get the same sort of versatility in