2009 Toyota Venza preview

Toyota doesn't want to call the Venza a crossover, but that's exactly what it is.

2009 Toyota Venza
Click image to view more photos of the 2009 Toyota Venza preview. Antuan Goodwin/CNET Car Tech

Toyota invited us out to preview its new for 2009 Venza. Billing the Venza as "car-optimized," Toyota downright refuses to call it a wagon or a crossover. Curiously, Toyota expects the Venza to be compared with the Ford Edge, Mazda CX-7, and Nissan Murano, all of which are crossovers. They say you're judged by the caliber of your enemies, so I guess that makes the Venza a crossover as well.

Whatever you call it, the Venza is an interesting vehicle. It rides almost like a Camry, but with carrying capabilities that are just shy of the Highlander. Sedan/wagon-like proportions and big 20-inch wheels help hide some of the visual mass, but--there's no getting around it--the Venza is a big vehicle. Don't believe me? Ask the entry model's 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine.

Outputting 182 horsepower and 182 pound-feet of torque, the four-cylinder engine feels underpowered for pulling the 5,000 pound Venza around town. The step-up 3.5-liter V-6's 268 ponies and 246 pound-feet of twist feel much better suited for motivational duties.

2009 Toyota Venza interior
The Toyota Venza's interior features leather seats, wood trim, and textured plastic surfaces. Toyota

Inside, the Venza can be equipped with Toyota's sixth-generation DVD navigation system with voice command, Bluetooth for hands-free calling and audio streaming from supported A2DP devices, satellite radio with XM NavTraffic, and a powerful 13-speaker JBL Synthesis audio system that sounds fantastic. The Venza features the requisite 10 cup holders and a clever piece of vehicle interior design that we hope to see more of in future vehicles: cable management.

The Venza's center console features three pockets for MP3 players or cell phones with pass-throughs for routing audio or charging cables to the 12V power or aux-input hidden deep in the console. It's a really neat way to keep the interior from looking like a wiry mess, while keeping the devices visible.

Click through to view more photos and driving impressions of the 2009 Toyota Venza.

 

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