Test Drives to Top Fives: 2015 Toyota Venza AWD Limited

We have a new segment called Test Drives to Top Fives where we film Khaled and Jay test driving new cars while driving them to Top 5 restaurants in Mississauga. Check out Jay Kana’s in-depth car review and check out the video below.

Test Drive: 2015 Toyota Venza AWD Limited
Top 5: Marketplace Fish & Chips (#1 Fish & Chips)

My first car was a station wagon. A glorious 1978 Volvo 240 DL station wagon. Toyota's Venza is kinda like a station wagon. And a crossover. And an SUV. I'm not sure exactly what I'd call it.

Branding anything a "station wagon" isn't the best way in today's world to see more of them on the road. It's an old-school term that isn't "cool" anymore. I think of the Buick Roadmaster Estate Wagon as a majestic vehicle that would make moving day a breeze.

But in 2015, that just won't fly. There's emphasis on design, functionality, fuel economy, technology, etc. And of course, classifying a vehicle by modern terms is important.

Imagine if we still called a fever a febricula? Or collywobbles instead of a stomach ache? Applesauce instead of nonsense and jollux instead of fat are also examples. And sadly, aside from myself and a few others, the words "station wagon' are barely uttered.

Now that we know the lovely Toyota Venza is not a station wagon in name, let's move on to what it is; a great looking crossover/SUV that's quite useful and smart.

As some of you may know, I'm all about functionality. And a station...err, crossover/SUV is full of functionality. The back door opens wide and in the Venza's case, has plenty of cargo space with the rear seats folded down (1,987 to be exact). Even with the rear seats upright and holding four other folks, there's still ample room available. There's lots of space in the front half of the cabin for storage and knick knacks, a clear, highly positioned line of sight and in typical Toyota form, the dashboard is cleanly laid out with easy to read and obtain information.

The AWD trim starts at $31,370 (the nearly $7,000 Limited option does include a heck of a lot) which isn't too bad considering it still falls beneath the $40 ,000 plateau. The centre console has a 6.1 inch touchscreen, which made navigating it a breeze. The gear shift is located high up, just below the centre console making it easy to reach and allowing more space between the seats. Back up cameras are standard on all Venza models (nice move, Toyota!) and propelling this specific model is a 2.7 litre 4-cylinder motor producing 182 horsepower. Move up to the V6 trim and you've instantly got 268 horses kicking beneath the hood.



Aside from the smooth ride, the "it's clearly not a car but drives like one" feel and its utilitarian side, what knocked my socks off was the upgraded audio system that came with the Limited trim: A 13 speaker JBL Synthesis audio system. Of all the things the Venza is known for, having a booming, clear, defined audio system isn't on page one. But the folks at Toyota decided that if you're carting around all sorts of family and friends, the tunes/talk radio should be received with open arms...err, open ears.



In the crossover/SUV class, I'd say it's one of the more impressive setups I've experienced. 19-inch wheels help make the ride smoother and add to the raised stance of the Venza. At the same time, the centre of gravity is quite low for this class of vehicle, which is likely why there's so many of them on the road. It's got the usefulness of an SUV, crossed with the feel of a car. Hmmm, dare I call it a crossover?

There's some sad news as of the spring of 2015 from our southern neighbours. The US version of the Venza will cease production in mid-2015 for the US market and globally by 2017.

It's too bad that this is the decision because despite not having a flashy appearance, it still functions like other crossovers/SUV's. It moves people well, it moves objects well, it's reliable (that's a Toyota staple) and I, for one, will miss it when it's gone.

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