Seattle Test Drive Review for the 2009 Toyota Venza

Category: Feature, New Cars, Videos. Written by Cameron Wong 

After reading and hearing so much about the 2009 Toyota Venza, I wasn’t sure what to expect. When driving most cross-over type vehicles it’s either one or the other. Either it feels like a truck but looks like a sedan, or handles like a sedan and looks like a SUV. It’s rare to get a true combination of both. But after driving the 2009 Venza, I know why Toyota waited a while to get into the crossover market, they wanted to get it right.

“People are passionate about this car,” claims Phil Soholt, sales manager at Toyota of Seattle. “I’ve seen people sell their 2008 car just to get into a new Venza. They’re willing to even take a loss, just so they can have the newest thing on the market. I’ve sold all of our AWD units.”

I put this new addition to the Toyota family through a true Seattle test. I went up Queen Anne hill, parallel parked downtown, got stuck in traffic more than once, cruised onto the Alaskan Way viaduct and picked up speed on my way to Greenlake.

The results; the Venza was more than up to the challenge.

Here’s what I found.


The version I drove was a LS FWD V6. The Camry based chassis on the Venza managed downtown driving like a charm. It certainly felt more like a sedan than an SUV, in fact it didn’t have that big looking down on people feel to it that many SUV’s have. Parking on a hill wasn’t bad either, the version I drove had the panoramic sunroof that seemed to make visibility and lighting excellent. The 189 inch body is identical to that of the Camry and handles tight spots just like it. The Venza also does a nice job of handling bumps on the road. Instead of rattling after the shock of a pothole, the vehicle absorbs it, like many luxury vehicles.


The Venza’s V6 pumps out 268 hp and going up Queen Anne hill was no problem. It tackled the incline with ease and it never felt forced. Managing the freeways and highways was no problem either for the Toyota cross over. It went from 0-60 in five seconds without pushing it too hard. In terms of acceleration the 2009 Venza has plenty of get up and power for the streets as well as the freeways.


The only time the Venza actually feels like an SUV is when you’re sitting in the back seat and loading the trunk. While it drives like a Camry, the cargo capacity feels more like a Highlander. The Venza owns a 70.1 cubic feet of cargo space while the Highlander is slightly higher at 95.4 cubic feet. But for the versatile northwest driver it has plenty of room for soccer balls, grocery bags, ice chests or snowboards. The dash is sleek and vibrant with a blue and red color scheme on the displays. However the clock and climate control is feels far on the vast dashboard. A nice added feature was the panoramic sunroof that offered plenty of light to the leather interior. It made the vehicle feel bigger.


In terms of looks the best example would be the head turning by those walking around downtown Seattle. Many didn’t know what kind of new Toyota we were driving, and I even saw a lady point while waiting at a cross walk and say, “what kinda car is that?” The 2009 Venza doesn’t look like anything else in the Toyota family. And if people are literally pointing and asking about it on the streets, it tells you the general public is interested.

Check out the 2009 Venza specs.

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4 Responses to “Seattle Test Drive Review for the 2009 Toyota Venza”

  1. Alice on January 30th, 2009 2:49 pm

    They’re hard to find. I look forward to checking one out whenever I can. How did it handle hills? Is it good in snow.

  2. Grant on February 2nd, 2009 3:28 pm

    Alice, the car handles well and reminds me of the crisp MDX handling that is relatively the same size. Essentially, the Venza has the cruising aspect of the SUV but with the response and handling of a sedan.

    Over in the Queen Anne area in the neighborhoods that have the island intersections, I was able to do sharp loops around and not worry about not being able to make the turn.

    Power is good; responsive V6 and plenty of early torque. I actually skidded the tires going up a hill giving it too much gas out of park. Cam ran a 0-60 merge onto the freeway and it was solid and without engine complaints.

    We didn’t get a chance to test it in snow, but can assume the AWD functionality will be just fine for getting up hills.

  3. DennisD on February 4th, 2009 10:36 pm

    I’ve been trying to check one of these out, but everytime I call a dealer they say they’re out! Where did you guys go and drive the one on the video? What other colors do they have?

  4. Jennie on February 10th, 2009 4:29 pm

    Nice video. Does it feel like a SUV or a Sedan? I dont like the bulkiness of most SUV’s.

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