A crossover hit

September 2, 2010
by By Thomas D’Monte

When you consider the varying needs of fleet buyers, a crossover vehicle is an attractive all-in-one solution. It combines the roominess of a small SUV with the sure-footed road manners of a sedan. Add some attractive styling and top-notch build quality, and you have a car like the Toyota Venza.

At root, the Venza is essentially a four-door box on wheels. It doesn’t sound too glamorous, I know. But Toyota’s designers—often criticized for bland styling—had a little snap in their pencils when this vehicle was put to paper.

The attractive exterior starts with a multi-tier, chrome, slotted front grill that gives this crossover instant road presence. It’s flanked by sleek triangular headlamps that stretch back into the fenders. The bold, muscular sheet metal features a prominent arch outlining the large front wheels and a beltline crease that runs the entire length of the vehicle.

The vehicle’s wheels have style, too. The V6 Venza gets in-your-face 20-inch aluminum wheels, wrapped in 245/50 R20 all-season tires; the four-cylinder model gets 19-inchers. In both cases, the wheels contribute to the mean, hunkered-down stance. There’s no doubt about it; this is certainly a cool-looking wagon.

On the inside

Getting in and out of the Venza is a breeze thanks to uniquely designed door openings. “The door sills are recessed,” explains Derrick Tan of Toyota Canada. In other words, that means the sill you normally step over when entering a vehicle is very low. “It makes it easy to slide in, and you don’t have any dirt making contact with your pant leg because the door sill is concealed [from the elements],” Tan adds.

The first time you get behind the wheel of this five-seat wagon you’re struck by the space. Head, hip and leg room are abundant, and tall windows make the vehicle feel larger than it is.

In typical Toyota fashion, the interior is well-assembled with tight seams between the soft-touch plastics. There’s brushed chrome surrounding the radio and brown carbon fibre on the centre console. Both add a little pop. It’s as attractive as what you’d find in a Camry or Accord—not luxurious, but certainly upscale.