Roadshow Video Reviews
2009 Toyota Venza AWD V-6Toyota calls it an "optimized vehicle." Brian Cooley checks the tech to see what exactly has been optimized.
>> Huh! Toyota Venza, what the hell is this thing? Your first reaction is to call it a biggest crossover, but now, not quite. Toyota calls it an optimized vehicle. Let see what they optimized, then check the tech. ^M00:00:17 [ Music ] ^M00:00:24 >> Now inside the Venza is nothing if not spacious. That's the first impression you get. In fact it reminds me a bit of the Ford Flex, which is a bigger vehicle, but it's that same idea of plenty of room without being it a full SUV. All Venza's no matter how they're equipped to have that little -- what, 3-inch multifunction display up there and that shows you all kinds of information about the vehicle's status. This one here though is optional. This is your navigation screen and that's part of a package -- a pricy package at that, more later. As you can see it's kind of a slightly coarsened version of what we've seen in many Lexus vehicles. It is a touchscreen with big well-responding buttons. It offers live traffic information, which is nice or you can control the nav system by a voice command. >> Please say a command, such as go home, destination, phone, audio or command list. >> And as you can see it does one of my favorite things, gives me a list of what I can say that it will understand -- that smart. Now, we've got the high-end audio system, JBL Synthesis , this is called. I was very impressed with how it handles compressed digital media like MP3s particularly off a Bluetooth streaming Smartphone. It just sounded great. And I love the fact that it's got Bluetooth streaming, still pretty edgy stuff on cars. No HD radio disappointingly. Satellite radio is there. CD is interesting. If you have the upgraded audio system you get a 6-slot, internal. If you go for the nav it drops down to 4-slots for the discs, a little bit of a sacrifice there. Here's our Bluetooth for our hands-free streaming and of course the aux jack refers to this guy right down here, traditional. Rear view camera is part of a package not every Venza is going to have this, though every Venza should because that's a pretty big bunch of stuff you've got a seal over back there. The camera quality is quite crisp, but there are no guidelines or trajectory marks to let you know where you're going. You just got to learn how far that is to whatever you see. Some other tasty options on this car are a panoramic glass roof. Also, a rear seat entertainment system. Unfortunately, that would be a single screen 9-inch display drop and down right here in the way of your rear view mirror. Now, we're in the V6 Venza. There's also a 2.7-liter four, but I hate to step down from this power plant because it moves the Venza very well without any fuss or having to spin up the engine or row the gears. Just put the one-choice only 6 speed auto and drive and press the pedal on the right, 268 horsepower and 246 foot-pounds of torque result. MPG is a pretty good 19:26. You can slap the shift throw over to the left to get into a manual gear mode. It does add more responsiveness, but it kind of seems like asking a guy in a suit to run. It's a quite car with the imperfections of the road rather well damped out without feeling like a wallowing beast. Yeah, I keep staring at the outside too. It's built on the Camry Highlander platform, but I can't quite put my finger on how they kept it looking like a car. I think if the side window arc were arched, it would look just like an Infiniti FX and then be squarely in that truckier territory of crossovers. And of course those 20-inch wheels help make the body look rather lithe. Put some 17s on this thing and watch it get foggily. Okay, let's price this big whatever it is. The Venza V6 front-wheel drive starts at about 31,000. Add about 1500 for all-wheel drive. Now, Bluetooth is pretty cheap at 300 bucks ala carte, but after that you, got to get into some chunky packages to get all the other tech toys I showed you. Those packages are either 7,000 or $7600. Now, we're pushing 40 grand pretty hard. This may be an optimized vehicle I'm just not sure it's optimized for the current economy. ^M00:04:10 [ Music ]