In an effort to pump slow sales of its five-passenger Venza mid-size crossover SUV (CUV), Toyota revealed an updated 2013 Venza at the New York Auto Show.
Styling changes include a redesigned front grille, fog lights and tail lights plus available LED daytime running lights. The changes include a new 19-inch wheel design. Inside, the interior has undergone some changes and a new black interior color is offered. In addition three new exterior colors of Attitude Black, Cypress Pearl and Cosmic Gray Mica are now available.
Several features previously options are now standard along with updates to option packages including the Entune™ multi-media system
The 2013 Venza is still available in LE, XLE and Limited grades. The LE and XLE models are available with all power train combinations: four-cylinder, V6, front-wheel drive (FWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD); the Venza Limited is powered by the V6 engine only, in front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive configurations.
Venza was developed specifically for the North American market in 2008 and is slotted between the very popular and high selling RAV4 compact crossover SUV and the Highlander mid-size crossover SUV that has third row seating.
Venza was designed to appeal to customers who prioritize bold and innovative design, a luxurious and refined interior and excellent handling and also require roominess and versatility.
Unfortunately, the Venza has not sold particularly well for Toyota trailing both the RAV4 and the Highlander in 2011. For the first quarter of 2012, Venza sales have been only 8,634 compared to 26,056 for Highlander and 39,865 for RAV4.
Toyota hopes to improve sales of the Venza with the updated 2013 Venza that will be available in June of this year. The improvements in the styling and new plus making standard several features standard should give the Venza a boost if the price point for each model is competitive.
Taking a look at the 2013 Venza, the improved line-up of standard features should enhance the customer value perception of the Venza as they look at several brand choices in the fairly crowded mid-size crossover market.
The Venza LE (base model) comes equipped with new 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.
An available Convenience Package for the Venza LE adds a power liftgate and a rear back-up camera. The Preferred Package adds a panoramic glass roof with front power moon roof and Display Audio with Navigation and Entune ™.
The Venza XLE adds luxury and convenience upgrades with standard features such as leather-trimmed seating surfaces, steering wheel and shift knob; four-way power passenger seat; multi-stage heated front seats; driver seat memory; reverse tilt outer mirrors, Display Audio with Navigation and Entune™; anti-theft system with alarm and engine immobilizer; Smart Key System with Push Button Start and illuminated entry; power rear liftgate and a back-up camera. Also standard on the XLE is a TFT multi-information display that can be customized to adjust the font size and content, and navigation voice instructions available in Spanish, French or English (XM Traffic is only available in English).
Aside from power train choices, the XLE offers a Premium Package option which includes a panoramic glass roof with front power moon roof, and Display Audio with Navigation , Entune and JBL, that includes 6.1-inch Touch Screen, AM/FM CD Player with MP3/WMA Playback Capability, 13 JBL Synthesis Speakers including Subwoofer, SiriusXM™ Satellite Radio, HD Radio™ with iTunes™ Tagging, Auxiliary Audio Jack, USB Port with iPod Connectivity and Control, Vehicle Information, Hands-Free Phone Capability, Phonebook Access, Advanced Voice Recognition, and Music Streaming Via Bluetooth Wireless Technology.
The top-of-line Venza Limited, which is V6 only, comes standard with the Premium HDD Navigation with Entune™ and JBL multimedia system. The system features a seven-inch high resolution touch screen with split-screen capability, AM/FM CD Player with MP3/WMA Playback Capability, 13 JBL Synthesis Speakers including Subwoofer, SiriusXM™ Satellite Radio capability); HD Radio™ with iTunes Tagging, Auxiliary Audio Jack, USB Port with iPod Connectivity and Control, Vehicle Information, Hands-Free Phone Capability, Phonebook Access, Advanced Voice Recognition, and Music Streaming Via Bluetooth Wireless Technology.
The Venza Limited combines the Premium HDD Navigation with Entune™ and JBL and the panoramic glass roof with front power moon roof, and it adds high-intensity discharge (HID) headlights with automatic high beams and LED Daytime Running Lights. A very useful features is the high-beam can detect oncoming vehicles and automatically switche the headlamps from high- to low-beam.
On the inside, the 2013 Venza is available in three interior colors: Ivory, Light Gray, and Black, which is new for 2013. Each color is offered in fabric on LE and leather on XLE and Limited.
The flow of the center console creates a unique “60/60” design that Toyota feels gives both the driver and front passenger the feeling that 60 percent of the space is accessible from their seating position.
All models have a standard Optitron™ speedometer and tachometer. The XLE and Limited grades also include a TFT multi-color center instrument panel display. The Dual-zone automatic climate system controls are centrally located on the upper console, providing easy access for both the driver and front passenger.
The 2013 Venza now offers the Toyota Entune™ multimedia system. This system leverages the mobile smart phone to provide a richer in-vehicle experience with fully integrated access to navigation, entertainment and information services.
Toyota Entune™ supports engaging mobile apps, such as Bing, OpenTable™, and movietickets.com, along with accessing useful travel-related services, such as live weather, traffic, fuel information (location and price), stocks, and sports.
Entune™ has a large selection of music options available to a vehicle, including iHeartRadio’s 750+ stations, and Pandora’s personalized music service.
The audio systems combined with Entune™ feature an advanced conversational voice recognition system that helps the driver to stay focused by eliminating the need to memorize thousands of voice commands.
The consumer does need to be aware these services are not free on Entune™ and will use a lot of bandwidth on their smart phone.
Venza’s design includes a focus on utility and 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.
The 2013 Venza offers four-cylinder and V6 models in FWD and AWD versions. Venza’s 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine delivers 181 horsepower at 5,800 rpm and 182 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,200 rpm. The four-cylinder Venza is EPA-rated at 21 MPG city/27 MPG highway for the FWD model and 20/25 for the AWD.
The 3.5-liter V6 produces 268 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 246 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,700 rpm. The V6 FWD model has EPA-estimated fuel economy ratings of 19 MPG city/26 MPG highway and 18/25 for the AWD.
Both engines are teamed with a six-speed sequential-shift electronically controlled automatic transmission with intelligence (ECT-i).
The six-speed ECT-i provides an engaging driving experience and helps optimize fuel economy. Uphill/downhill shift logic selects the proper gear for driving conditions and helps provide moderate engine braking during downhill driving.
Venza’s Active Torque Control AWD System optimizes torque distribution between the front and rear wheels to help ensure stable acceleration and smooth cornering on all road surfaces. AWD offers enhanced traction and helps provide excellent overall handling in inclement weather.
An available Towing Prep Package on V6 models equips Venza with engine oil cooler, larger radiator fan and heavy-duty alternator. The 2013 Venza has tow capacity of 3,500 pounds in the V6 equipped with tow package.
The Venza does sport an aerodynamic shape with short overhangs, forward A-pillar and a low roofline. Continuous brushstroke lines run from the front grille to the D-pillar. A bold front end features the distinctive grille, headlights and fog lamps for a sporty yet refined appearance. Venza’s appearance is completed by an angled rear hatch, spoiler and wide wraparound taillights that interconnect with the hatch door. Tight tire-to-body gaps contribute to the sophisticated, refined appearance.
The Venza design is highly practical, with a rear load-in height that is almost as low as that of the Sienna minivan. The generously sized liftgate opening enhances the vehicle’s utility. An available power liftgate integrates jam protection that detects obstruction in the door’s path and reverses the motor. Venza provides a low step-over height for improved ergonomics, and because the closed doors cover the rocker panels, the driver and passengers are protected from accumulated road-dust while getting into and out of the vehicle.
We are pet owners and often take our two dogs with us on our travels in Texaa and beyond. Toyota steps up to that need of a pet-friendly vehicle with the Venza. Consumers can find a wide range of pet utility accessories available at Toyota dealerships. Among the available choices are a rear liftgate pet ramp, booster seat with harness, pet buckles and rear seat zip line-style harnesses, pet carriers and bucket seat, bench seat and hammock style waterproof seat covers.
Consumers looking for a solid five passenger mid-size crossover SUV should take a look at the upgraded 2013 Toyota Venza when they arrive in the showroom in June.
Jim Nelson is a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association