Look! Up in the sky! Is it a cross-over? Is it a SUV? Is it a station wagon? Wrong, it’s the Toyota Venza AV10 and nobody really knows what this car really is so let’s gooooo…

The Toyota Venza AV10 reminds me of the Manbearpig, because it’s half Highlander, half Camry, a quarter Lexus RX and a quarter Aurion. So if you can’t decide between a classic station wagon and an SUV, then the Venza technically is the answer for you, or atleast until you can make up your mind.

So what do we got here?

MacPherson suspension at the front, independent suspension at the rear like Kim Kardashian. It’s a Highlander-Camry fusion with some Lexus sprinkled over. Highlander’s utilitarian cousin. We’re not here yet with the Venza cross-over that was and is such a succes, but everybody has to start from somewhere and the first Venza really was a practical car for practical people. And it also had quite abit to do with Toyota’s decision to expand it’s North America portofolio and slide something in between the geriatric Camry and the ‘uge Highlander so they axed the 5 seat Highlander, leaving it strictly as a 7 seater, and slid the Venza in between.

And you can feel it in the first generation Venza’s bones as this is one highly practical utilitarian charion. For instance the RX and the Highlander do suffer abit in the room deparment, especially the RX, and the Venza is the opposite. Not great on luxury and performance compared to the RX cousin, but huge on interior space. You can literally haul around a small city hall and not adjust your seat further one inch in order to make up space. It even wasn’t hard to specc, as it came in just one trim level and a options list shorter than my options list for work after I graduated. It only came around with a 6 speed automatic. So the choice was mostly down to 2 engines, front wheel drive or all wheel drive, some options and that was it. It was assembled in America, for people from America. Ain’t nobody got time for strolling through the shopping list, we got work to do. And the Venza sure was a workhorse.


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Toyota Venza AV10 Engines


  • 2.7 l-4 1AR-FE of  180 horsepower – Some people may have complained about the lack of power from the 4 cylinder engine in the Venza and I can see where it’s coming from, but the Toyota Venza AV10 is not the sporty type anyway so I wouldn’t fuss too much about it. If you want simple, reliable motoring, a front wheel drive Venza with this 4 cylinder engine is adequate.
  • 3.5 V6 2GR-FE of 270 horsepower – Or you could hop on the power bandwagon and go for the bread and butter 3.5 V6 2GR-FE engine and suddenly your Venza is more of an poor man’s Highlander than a rich man’s Camry. Nothing particularly wrong of it, apart from the plastic cooler lines which should be checked and replaced with steel ones, especially in hotter environments.


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Toyota Venza AV10 Reliability Issues

  • Abit of gourmand, as the Venza tends to eat brake rotors and it’s not particularly great on fuel – expect mid 20s mpg even on highway. It even tends to eat from your vision, as there are quite a few blind spots so make sure that you park a few times during the test drive.
  • Some of the dashboard plastic may rattle and the satnav is straight out of Contra, but for the average Toyota user from that period of time it was a good thing.


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Toyota Venza AV10 Verdict

It wasn’t much but it was honest work and it was a start. Toyota didn’t really know what to do with the Venza at the time so it does have abit of a split personality, but if you’re into not-quite-station-wagon-not-SUV-either then the Venza is one practical, reliable and very roomy workhorse. And yes, it did take a good bite out of Honda’s Odyssey, if I am to adress the elephant (wheeled elephant in Odyssey’s case) in the room. So if it’s practicality and reliability you’re after, then the american built Toyota Venza AV10 is one of the better choices out there.

Which engines do I recommend? If you’re not in a hurry anywhere and you’re not the sporty type, then you could do with the 4 cylinder 2.7 1AR-FE engine, otherwise you have only the 3.5 V6 as an alternative anyway.