The updated 2013 Toyota Venza is impressive as it delivers excellent value and performance in a mid-size 5-passenger crossover SUV.
We recently spent a week driving a base model 2013 Venza LE with the 4-cylinder power train and front-wheel drive.
From our test drive, the 2013 Venza, even in the base model, is pretty much about all a young family could want and need in a well engineered and built crossover SUV that comfortably seats five, has a very complete list of standard features with reasonably priced options, is trimmed with generous touches of premium materials and fabrics, delivers adequate power and performance with decent fuel economy and can meet a young family's budget requirements.
Early last year, Toyota introduced the updated 2013 Venza mid-size crossover SUV (CUV) at the 2012 New York Auto Show with the purpose to pump sales which had lagged since its introduction in 2009.
Looking at the numbers, it appears that this updated Venza is being well received in the U.S. market. Sales for the first two months of 2013 are up 38.7 percent compared to 2011 and sales for the rolling 12 months prior are up 15.4 percent with the majority of the increase coming once the updated 2013 model was in the showrooms.
Usually the test cars provided from manufacturers are not the base model, so we were a bit skeptical of how we would view this new Venza in the base model - that is - until we got into it and saw how well it was fitted out with features and premium materials throughout.
The premium quality of both the hard and soft materials used along with the almost customized texturing of the surfaces and blending of color elements were outstanding with design execution quality that we normally expect to find in vehicles that are priced well north of $40,000 before optional equipment is added.
The price on our Venza LE was $27,700 for the four-cylinder and FWD base model.
Toyota has greatly simplified their optional packages by packing more into the standard price and carefully crafting value options together as accessories.
For the 2013 Venza LE, there are only two packages and both had been added to our test car. They were the LE Preferred Package for $2,850 and the Preferred Accessory Package for $447.
Delivered, our 2013 Toyota Venza LE priced at $31,807 fully loaded out.
This Venza LE was equipped under the hood with a 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine that delivers 181 horsepower at 5,800 rpm with 182 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,200 rpm.
The four-cylinder power plant was teamed with a six-speed sequential-shift electronically controlled automatic transmission with intelligence (ECT-i).
This six-speed ECT-i provides a nimble driving experience and that is designed by Toyota to help optimize fuel economy. Of note, we found the uphill/downhill shift logic that selects the proper gear for driving conditions and provides moderate engine braking during downhill driving to add to the performance of this power train.
The four-cylinder Venza is EPA-rated at 21 MPG city/27 MPG highway for the FWD model.
This Venza rode nicely on the standard (for the LE) 19-inch, 10-spoke aluminum alloy wheels. The front suspension consists of a rigid L-arm-type MacPherson strut with a stabilizer bar, and the rear suspension is a dual-link MacPherson strut setup with stabilizer bar. The electric power steering (EPS), along with the responsive yet rigid suspension made this Venza pleasantly agile with smooth and relatively quiet ride.
The Venza LE grade comes well equipped with standard features that include a blind spot mirror and outer mirror turn signals with puddle lamps. Additional key standard features include dual-zone automatic climate control with air filter and second-row-seat vents; eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with power lumbar; 3.5-inch LCD multi-information display; a tilt/telescopic adjustable steering wheel with integrated audio controls; an overhead console with map lights; rear-seat adjustable personal reading lamps and three 12-volt power outlets.
The LE also comes standard with the Display Audio system, which includes a 6.1-inch touch screen, AM/FM CD player with MP3/WMA playback capability, six speakers, auxiliary audio jack, USB port with iPod® connectivity and control, vehicle information, hands-free phone capability, phone book access and music streaming via Bluetooth® wireless technology.
The LE Preferred Package added Convenience Package for the Venza LE adds a power liftgate with jam protection, back up camera integrated with the 6.1-inch touch screen, a panoramic glass roof with front power moonroof, Navigation and Entune.
The Preferred Accessory Package for the LE added carpet floor mats and cargo mat, cargo net, first-aid kit and rear bumper protector.
Toyota's STAR Safety System is standard on all Toyota models and features enhanced Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRAC) Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist with Smart Stop Technology (SST) and Hill-start Assist Control (HAC).
In addition, Venza provides seven airbags, including a driver’s knee airbag, driver and front-passenger front-seat-mounted side airbags, and front and rear side-curtain airbags.
The design of the interior is significant for its functional features in addition to the use of premium materials.
Venza’s generous interior includes several clever storage locations and lighting. The adjustable center console features a sliding cover and armrest, three iPod®/MP3 player holders with wire concealment features, and a large storage compartment.
The center-console compartment is also equipped with a USB port, auxiliary audio jack and 12-volt power outlet. The upper portion of the center console houses the gearshift lever for easy and comfortable driver reach. An on/off switch on the overhead console enables front-seat occupants to operate all four personal overhead interior lights.
Interior storage is further complemented by a total of 10 front and rear beverage holders (six bottle holders and four cup holders). These include dual-illuminated, sliding front cup-holders in the center console, two in the rear-seat armrest, and front- and back-door bottle holders.
For the family who travels with pets, the Venza offers a wide range of pet utility accessories available at Toyota dealerships. These include a rear lift gate pet ramp, booster seat with harness, pet buckles and rear seat zipline-style harnesses, pet carriers and bucket seat, bench seat and hammock style waterproof seat covers.
For 2013, Venza is available in LE, XLE and Limited grades. The LE and XLE models are available with all powertrain combinations: four-cylinder, V-6, front-wheel drive (FWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD); the Venza Limited is powered by the V-6 engine only, in front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive configurations.
Pricing (base MSRP) for the 2013 Venza models is as follows:
• Four-cylinder FWD $27,850
• Six-cylinder FWD $29,670
• Four-cylinder AWD $29,300
• Six-cylinder AWD $31,120
• Four-cylinder FWD $31,510
• Six-cylinder FWD $33,330
• Four-cylinder AWD $32,960
• Six-cylinder AWD $34,780
• V-6 FWD $37,570
• V-6 AWD $39,020
As you can see from the above trim level pricing, you can spend more for a 2013 Venza (and get more) but we found that, at the base level, the 2013 Venza LE FWD with four-cylinder power train was more than fine enough with a lot of value and performance for just $31,807.