5 reasons to buy and not to buy Toyota Venza


Origins and technology

The name Venza is derived by crossing two words: Venture (risky venture, adventure, undertaking, endeavor) and Monza (I hope that people who regularly read the automotive press do not need to explain what the Monza Autodrome is and what it is famous for). The idea to bring to the U.S. market an affordable car that would combine the merits of a crossover, station wagon and minivan really looked like a risky venture.

Nevertheless, by 2008, the technical center of Toyota in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and in California, the company’s design office was completed all the work on the “Westernization” of the local Harrier model (which already had a global brother brand Lexus, namely – the model RX generation AL10). The new model, which received the factory code AV10, was shown at NAIAS in Detroit in January 2008, and in the fall, it also began mass production at the plant in Georgetown (Kentucky).

The car, built on the platform of Toyota K (together with the Camry, Avalon, Previa, Highlander, Alphard, as well as Lexus ES and RX), technically turned out quite simple. Both front and rear suspension are McPherson struts, rack-and-pinion steering – with electric booster. The model was available as a front-wheel drive model, and with automatic all-wheel drive.

The available engines were two: 3.5-liter gasoline V6 2GR-FE rated at 268 hp and 182-horsepower inline four 1AR-FE rated at 2.7 liters. They were paired with Aisin six-speed automatic U660E series (on the 3.5 and part 2.7 motors) and U760E (only on the 2.7).

At the end of 2012, Toyota conducted a restyling, which touched mainly the optional filling of the model. The updated Venza was shown at the New York Auto Show, and simultaneously with the beginning of sales in the U.S., it was decided to start official deliveries of the car in Russia. The first Venza in our country appeared in 2009, immediately after the start of sales in America – they were imported by “gray dealers”. It should be noted that the plant at Georgetown remained the only plant where Venza was sold both in North American markets and for export, including China. Russia received “Europeanized” cars with lights adapted to our standards, and a number of other changes in equipment. Only versions with a 2.7-liter engine and predominantly with all-wheel drive were sold in Russia.

Toyota Venza North America 2008–12

Despite the restyling, Venza sales never reached the planned indicators, and in 2015 sales of the car in the U.S. were discontinued. In Russia, it was announced in January 2016: the company considered it unprofitable to continue importing this model in the conditions of another crisis.

However, on the secondary market the model is in steady demand and has a fairly high liquidity. Owners are in no hurry to get rid of the car and change it for something else. Prices for Toyota Venza start at 1 million rubles for cars brought from the U.S. in 2009-2010 and end with a figure of 2 million for an officially purchased 2015 car with relatively low mileage and a transparent dealer history.

In general, buying such a car on the secondary market for 1.3-1.7 million rubles can be quite a rational decision. Not so long ago, we have already told in detail about what problems a person who dared to such a “risky venture” may encounter. Well, now let’s see what its owners write about this car.

Hate #5: the class of the car

It is worth noting that the Venza is not a crossover in the usual sense of the word and especially not an SUV. It is a station wagon (which, however, many still refer to the segment of crossovers, but as a separate subclass). But unlike the classic representatives of this subclass, such as the Volvo XC70, Audi Allroad and Subaru Outback, which used the body of conventional “passenger” wagons, the designers of Toyota have made on the same platform, a new body, but not with “off-road”, but with passenger proportions. The same way was used by the designers of Mercedes R-class.

And here there is some kind of an ambush. Buyers of “classical” crossovers, as a rule, want their vehicle to look and be practical as an SUV, but to drive like a passenger car. Buyers of cross-country vehicles (SUVs) want their passenger car to be able to do something off-road. As a result, the Venza is somewhere in the middle. In general, it is not fish and meat, but a miracle monster-fish-whale. By the way, the author wrote in one of reviews: “Venza reminds some good big whale or a cachalot”. But the balance of qualities, set by belonging to the class of PSA, does not suit everybody.

Love #5: the cost of ownership

In many reviews, their authors mention, that they have stopped the choice on Toyota Venza, looking for “anticrisis variant”, because it appeared to be too expensive to keep a Range Rover or VW Touareg in conditions of economic instability. The matter is not in initial cost: they ask practically the same price for Toyota Highlander U40 of the same years of manufacture in the secondary market. Except that Highlander is a 3.5-liter V6 and 273 “horses” under the hood, with the appropriate level of transportation tax. In many areas it will be more than 40 thousand rubles. Tax for Venza with 182 hp. – less than 10 thousand. Moving on.

Venza has a low appeal to hijackers; hence, hull insurance for this model is cheaper; and if it is really in a pinch, it is possible to refuse this kind of insurance. On the other hand, Venza’s liquidity is quite high and its price decreases quite slowly with its age.

Toyota Venza 2008–15

Maintenance is not prohibitively expensive, and the car does not suffer from endless sudden breakdowns (however, we will return to this issue). At last, Venza is notable for moderate appetite. Here, however, the owners’ opinions differ. Some claim that in summer gasoline consumption on a freeway is 7.5-8 l/100 km, and in a city remains within 10-11 liters per one hundred. Others categorically deny it: “The consumption of 11/100 – it is unreal, do not deceive people who are considering this (still a good option) to buy, under 15/100 unambiguously!” In some reviews I even came across the figure of 18 l/100 km! Nevertheless, in many reviews fuel efficiency is enumerated among the advantages of the model.

The owners who are not inclined to categorical evaluations explain it by the fact that the consumption always depends on your driving style, and in case of Venza it is especially evident. If you drive quietly on a freeway, within the limits of traffic rules you get 7,5-8 liters. You drive faster than a hundred and forty, you perceive back dimensions of any car as an invitation to overtaking – you get the same 15, 16, and even 18 liters per one hundred. The same situation in the city: if you “chase” in a stream, you will exactly meet 10 l/100 km, you will constantly rush from traffic lights and in general “roll on all money”, the car will eat at the throat.

The price of owning Venza somewhat increases the cost of the tires installed on it. Try to find tires (255/45R19) cheaper than 11-12 thousand rubles per tire, and popular models will cost 70-75 thousand rubles per set…

Hate #4: city use (dimensions, turning radius, consumption)

In many reviews of Toyota Venza there is a definition “inconsistent”. Indeed, a certain inconsistency is present. On the one hand, Venza is a city family car, and it is bought mainly for the use in the city. On the other hand, its dimensions and big turning circle impede it in a city. Many people mention this contradiction, but estimate it differently.

Some people write, that do not feel any problems with dimensions, I got used to it quickly, it is not the first similar suitcase, and others mention dimensions and insufficient maneuverability among serious disadvantages. This parameter appears to be especially important for families with a car driven by both spouses: “My wife did not like the car as for driving and dimensions, as we live in the center of St. Petersburg with its many narrow streets crowded with cars”, “My wife never got behind the wheel”.

There are also other factors that complicate city driving: quite high consumption in rush mode of dense city traffic (which we have already talked about), and some design features that we will discuss later.

Love #4: volume of interior and trunk, comfort

What should a family car be like? I will not be mistaken if I assume that very many people will answer, that voluminous and capacious. The authors of reviews present Venza in the most favorable light: “The interior is gigantic, more than in Prado or Touareg. There is even more space for passengers behind, than in Range Rover, only with Mercedes S-class it is possible to compare, and it is not a joke. Behind the front passenger you can sit foot to foot!” “In the back row, kids can just walk between the seats. Three full child seats fit with ease.” “In the front, it feels like there’s more room than in the Lexus RX. For the rear passengers real comfort, the center tunnel, of course, spoils the situation a little, but, say, two adults and fairly strong men plus one teenager about 17 will feel comfortable.”

Toyota Venza 2008–15

There are a lot of statements of this kind. In particular, in a number of reviews owners emphasize that young passengers sitting in child seats on the back row, do not reach the backs of the front seats and do not stain them, and someone says that after a trip to the back seat of a solid man, 190 cm tall, compared his feelings with a flight in business class.

The owners are happy with the volume of a trunk. Someone tells that during a trip to the Crimea with three children, the trunk took everything, including not a small stroller, someone notes that three huge suitcases are easily placed there. And if to fold a back sofa it is possible to transport in general everything, from nine wheels on a tire fitting to three doors or a bed for a country house under construction.

Nature lovers are not offended as well: “The trunk contains an assembled two-seater boat 3 m long, a 5 hp boat motor, three life jackets, a 10-liter cauldron, a 30-liter canister, four sleeping bags and four 70-liter backpacks – and it’s only half of the luggage compartment, of course, without a curtain.

The authors especially notice in many reviews that the advantages of Venza interior are revealed the most fully on long trips. Here is to place everything: and very comfortable seats, in which you can easily spend more than one hour and get over a thousand and a half kilometers, and plenty of places to store small items (including box-along with 14 liters capacity, with the function of a refrigerator), and folding tables in the backs of the front seats, allowing no problem to feed the children during the trip. Naturally you can also settle down for a night in the car.

Finally, we can note the excellent filling with a variety of functions that increase comfort. “When I saw the car in the ad, I thought it was top-of-the-line because it had double glazing, sunroofs, trunk closer, and a driver’s seat with memory when exiting, but it turned out to be an average option.”

Toyota Venza 2008–15

Some may call the interior of the Venza “simple”, but many are ready to describe it only in enthusiastic terms: “I’m sitting and relaxing – I have the impression that I’m relaxing on my favorite sofa in front of the TV. Chic comfortable armchairs, light, high-quality leather with even stitching, inserts imitating dark wood, chrome elements, panoramic roof, awfully comfortable back sofa, gigantic interior – in short, total luxury. The automatic gearbox lever is an elegant nickel-plated stud topped with a wooden-leather knob. You want to touch it and stroke it all the time”.

Many reviews separately mention a panoramic glass roof: “The panoramic roof is an ideal function, if you go on a long journey with children, and basically a pleasant thing, if you trivially want daylight in the cabin. Again, you can admire stars before sleep in the car. Romance!

And it’s also worth noting that the cars that were officially sold in Russia, as a rule, equipped richer than those that were bought at U.S. auctions and imported into the country before 2014. Nice little things have been added, such as a navigator, the audio system has gotten better, the engine start from the button, the electric trunk, the lights in the door mirrors, and the adaptive interior mirror.

Hate #3: doors, mirrors, headlight washers

The Venza has some not very pleasant features. For example, the design of the doors. On the one hand, doors that cover thresholds are good, because your pants will remain clean when getting in and out in bad weather, in spite of the fact that Venza is rather dirty and one can see something in back window only in first two-three days after washing. Only while parallel parking it can be impossible to open the doors, as they are resting against the curb.

In many reviews, the authors express their complaints about the side mirrors. Firstly, they are small and flat, much less than those, which crossovers and SUVs are usually equipped with. Well, since we have accepted to set mirrors in such a way, that about one third of mirrors is occupied by a car board, there are huge blind zones in side mirrors, in which even a KAMAZ will fit. As a cure for this problem it is offered to install side mirrors from Toyota Avensis.

Well, secondly, even top equipped cars do not have function of automatic mirrors folding. Do you want to fold mirrors on a narrow parking – be so kind, to wrap the car with handles, handles… It causes natural bewilderment: how it is that the automobile for one and a half million has no such elementary function, while the twice cheaper Auris has it? Here, in all probability, the fact, that the car was initially designed for the North American market, affects – as a rule, parking lots are rather spacious there, and the function of folding mirrors is not so actual.

Toyota Venza 2008–15

It’s a funny situation with headlight washers. American cars simply do not have them, and the owners are indignant, saying that it is a shame to pay a million dollars and then every 15 minutes of driving in the night rain to wipe the headlights with a rag. Official vehicles have washers, but even here all is not so good: the fluid is spent too quickly, and it is offensive when you just washed the car, and then come out the nozzles and together with the headlights you pour on the hood. On forums the owners share their experience how to disable washer automatics programmatically or how to build a toggle switch to forcibly disable this function.

In addition, this model has no rain sensor, window heating (and even in the wipers’ rest area), which causes a certain irritation: in fact the European models of comparable price and class have all that! Well, and there is no button to open the trunk on the trunk, only in the cabin or on the key fob.

Love #3: safety.

So, the family car should be comfortable and roomy, so it fits everything you need. It also should be safe, because you carry the most important people in your life in it… At least, so many owners of Toyota Venza think. In this respect, the Venza does not deceive their expectations. “The first thing I felt was safety: massive doors, big uprights and, most importantly, an inexplicable feeling of safety. I haven’t seen it anywhere else…”. “When you get into this car for the first time, you feel like you’re in a tank, you’re detached from the outside world.

Toyota Venza 2008–15

And this is not just some subjective perception on a sensual level. The Venza has received the maximum possible five stars in the NHTSA, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration rating for a reason. Frontal impact – 5 stars each for driver’s and front passenger’s safety, side impact – 5 stars each for driver’s and rear passenger’s safety, and only in rollover tendency test, the car has received 4 stars.

Also, safety is enhanced by the car’s very character. As the owners write, all Venza’s shortcomings are compensated by a certain positive energy and calm vibes emanating from it. “It just wants to roll along imposingly, not rushing anywhere, not thinking about anything, forgetting about everything, not paying attention neither to the pimply bastards who saddled the domestic manufacturer and imagining themselves to be Barrichells at least, nor to the life-hurt ghouls in rusty foreign cars that consider it their duty to throw something out the window onto the road, who would rather strangle than turn on a turn signal. I want to soar over the traffic, and it almost works.

Hate #2: Passability, lack of lugs

In evaluation of Toyota Venza’s cross-country ability all the owners are divided into two categories rather clearly. The first (fortunately, few in number) group for some reason believed that they buy a real “jeep”, and therefore is unpleasantly surprised that the car has a rather modest off-road potential. The second group is not disappointed, because they do not expect to fight with serious lack of roads, but they can easily overcome all kinds of unpleasant surprises that one may encounter in the city or on the way to summer cottage, and the Venza has all its potential.

The main weapon in Venza’s arsenal is 205 mm of ground clearance. By the way, it is 10 millimeters more than RAV4 has, and it is enough not to suffer from powerlessness in a court yard after snowfall or to pass on dry hilly ground without problems. Even the front-wheel drive versions of the automobile have such opportunities: “I have rubber with spikes. Perhaps because of that, I never got stuck during three winters and I never regretted that I took the front-wheel drive”.

Automatically connected all-wheel drive with a viscous clutch will be helpful only when driving on slippery surfaces, but it will give a chance to drive up quite steep hill, on snow, sand or gravel: “In winter I tried to stall on an icy hill, stopped on the rise and pressed down from the floor – got stuck, but pulled out. The second time I tried it smoothly – it moved without grinding, which means that all the drive systems and the anti-bukes work.” “I drove into the loose sand, stopped on the hill, gave gas – the car calmly drove up without slamming and roaring with high revolutions”.

Nevertheless, according to the authors of reviews, the car ride is quite confident both on snow, and on gravel: “It is a pleasure to drive in winter, it holds the road splendidly”. “You can’t drive it in the woods, it’s not suitable for fishing or hunting, but it’s easy to drive it to the dacha or just drive off the road. We climbed up the rugged terrain, traveled on not very good roads in the regions.

Some serious off-roading is strictly contraindicated for Venza, because the evacuation of stuck automobile from mud ambush is almost an insurmountable task. The matter is that Venza has no towing hooks as a class and the manual says that evacuation is possible only by loading. Frankly speaking, this circumstance makes the owners rather nervous: “Complete absence of towing lugs strained much. There are no problems, but I could get stuck, and I don’t know how I could pull it. Lack of lugs could be unpleasant surprise not only on the off-road, but also on a city asphalt. Here is, for example, such a story: “The alternator belt has torn, got under a crankshaft pulley and smoked. I stopped at an intersection. I opened the hood, looked, didn’t find anything burning, called a friend, he arrived in five minutes, got a rope – but there was nothing to hook to the back or to the front! In general, the two of us pushed him out of the intersection, bought a belt for 370 rubles and replaced it in 30 minutes.

Toyota Venza 2008–15

Love #2: stability on the road, dynamics, handling

In general, the behavior of Venza on the road is more than positive. The only thing, some of them (though not all) complain about the lack of dynamics. They write that 2,7 liters and 185 horses move two tons sluggishly, the car accelerates mediocrely, the kickdown is somehow thoughtful: you drive 80 km/h, stomp on the pedal on the overtaking, the engine roars like a wounded hippo, the arrow flies to the red zone, and … nothing else happens, acceleration begins after unbearably long seconds.

But here, rather, the unfulfilled expectations have an effect. Those who have understood and have accepted character of the automobile absolutely easy concern that the car disposes to smooth and solid drive when you like not hurrying anywhere, but all the same you go fast enough. Yes, the automobile actively resists chess changes and resists twitching on the road, but the stock of the power of the 2,7-liter motor is quite enough for safe overtaking at the speed of 120 km/h, even if the car is completely loaded.

But the drivability of the car turns out to be a pleasant surprise. The owners say the car is comparable with VW Touareg, you feel like in a business sedan, and the main advantage of Venza is stable motion along the given path: “Even the sharp turns are easy – in five years of driving I’ve tried to take it in a controlled skid, but it was impossible. If you switch off ESP, you can do it, but I didn’t take any chances, because it would be hard to catch such a tub. “The road holds the road, if not perfectly, then almost. On a wet road in turns 120-130 degrees at 100 km / h is like on rails, not the slightest hint of drifting.

This stability is shown not only when driving in a straight line or in fast turns, but also in very extreme situations. Here is what one of owners says: “I had one case on WHSD. I was driving 180 and somewhere before the track I caught a side cut, the car shuddered but it was going straight ahead. I immediately pulled over to the side of the road, got out and… I was shocked – there was a residual tire on the disc, there was a circle of tread on top, and there was no side cord, but even so, the car didn’t lose control”.

All of this combined only confirms that the Venza fits the definition of “the perfect car for long trips with the family.” Big, soft, it floats on the road like a ship, and all-wheel drive, high ground clearance, wide tires, and decent handling allow you to feel calm and comfortable on any road, traveling any distance.

Hate #1: noise isolation

If not every first, but certainly every second owner of Venza writes about lack of noise insulation. It is true, the authors of reviews do it not abusively, but almost everybody admits that the noise insulation of the model is rubbish, like of the majority of Japanese. “I’ve understood, that I have got on noise isolation – there is none, and not even in comparison with Lexus, but with Camry or service Jetta”.

First of all, in owners’ opinion, it is necessary to install additional sound insulation in doors: “Such a shameful sound when closing, and they are so light, it is awfully impolite”. Second, we should do the wheel arches: “As usual, the most noise from the arches, but the same windows let little noise (front double-glazed). “The third day I changed the winter tires – on dry asphalt the hum is not weak, the arches should be done.

Toyota Venza 2008–15

The least complaints about engine noise: “You can’t hear the engine at all when driving quietly. “The engine feels as if it is electric, not petrol-powered. “There is a disadvantage in the noise of the rear arches and the engine compartment, but it can be corrected: the rear arches can be glued, and the engine, when it is warmed up, is almost not heard.”

Many owners install additional sound insulation by themselves: “I glued the sound insulation in doors, hood, trunk lid, fenders, wherever I could get it. Of course, not entirely convenient without a ditch or an elevator, left the floor and roof – until next summer and free time. “Did noise control on everything but the roof. Not to say that it became “deaf as in a tank”, but the noise level is much lower, the noise is certainly there, but it became less noticeable.”

Love #1: reliability

Is it any wonder that the vast majority of reviews cite quality, which has become a trademark of the Toyota brand, as the car’s main virtue? “We say Toyota – we mean reliability, we say reliability – we mean Toyota”… The evidence of this can be quoted almost endlessly. Those who bought the car in official showrooms, those who ordered it from grey dealers, and those who bought it in the secondary market write about it. “For how many years I have owned this car, I have never had any problems.” “For 50,000 thousand kilometers nothing has broken down, as they say, my car yes do maintenance”. “For five years at a mileage of 100 thousand kilometers nothing has fallen asleep”. “In six years with careful driving – replacement of struts and consumables. Mileage of 160,000 km.” “I have only changed oil, filters, liquids, pads and once the struts in a circle during the time I have owned the car, which is 7 years.”

Yes, 200 000 km is not a long run for this car. In one of the reviews the author says he met a Venza with mileage of half a million at a car wash! And in none of the reviews did I come across any mention of any serious problems with the engine. Only one owner mentioned the need to replace the rear crankshaft oil seal, which cost him 10,000 rubles. On the contrary, all say that 1AR-FE engine can be called a standard of reliability, and that with proper maintenance of the engine and gearbox with no problems lasts for 450-500 thousand km.

The suspension is also notable for its endurance and runs very adequately over our potholes, which they call roads here by a misunderstanding. “Hit a pothole, bounced on a bump, I have driven to the technical center and thought the suspension was dead. Nope… You don’t even need a camber.

Of course, the Venza, as any model, has certain inherent weaknesses and vulnerabilities. The most often the recalls mention the knocking in the steering rack and power steering, which appear while driving over the small bumps. But the methods to solve this problem are worked out by mechanics of specialized workshops.

In general, the Venza, as well as the majority of Toyotas, is simple, even a little bit archaic, but extremely reliable. Exactly this reliability has become a key component in the low cost of ownership.


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