2012 Toyota Venza: Looks good from here!

The Venza is a rare bird offering a higher riding position than a sedan, but is lower than an SUV and offers All-Wheel Drive and more room to boot in a softer design. Since its launch three years it has won many fans for its combination of utility and car-like comfort

For 2013, the Toyota Venza adds two new optional trim packages. The new Premium Package for the four-cylinder FWD Venza adds two-stage heated leather seats, power liftgate, rearview camera, panoramic glass roof and anti-theft system, while the Navigation & JBL Package for four-cylinder AWD models adds a JBL Synthesis audio system with six-CD changer, 13 speakers, DVD-based navigation system, integrated rearview camera and XM Real-Time Traffic Capability.

The Venza comes with a choice of two engines: a 2.7-litre four-cylinder or 3.5-litre V6, both with a six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode. Both engines are available in front- or all-wheel drive.

The Venza comes in a single trim line, differentiated by engine size, and by FWD or AWD.

Features on the four-cylinder Venza include 19-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, CD/MP3/WMA stereo with auxiliary input and USB port, XM satellite radio, Bluetooth connectivity, eight-way power driver’s seat, 60/40 split-folding reclining rear seat, power locks with keyless entry, auto up/down on all windows, Optitron gauges, auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass, dual illuminated vanity mirrors, cargo cover, tilt and telescopic steering wheel with audio controls, floor mats, power-assisted trunk closer, multi-information display, cruise control, garage door opener, driver’s knee airbag, active front head restraints, heated mirrors, privacy glass, rear spoiler, variable intermittent wipers with windshield de-icer, rear wiper, auto-off headlamps, and fog lamps.

The Venza V6 adds 20-inch alloy wheels and dual exhaust.2.7 liter four cylinder engine with Active Torque Control System Allwheel drive (AWD), Vehicle Stability Control, Traction Control System (TRAC), and Hill Start Assist Control (HAC).

Our test car was a 2.7 liter model painted in a lovely Sunset Bronze Mica shade with chrome accented door handles and 19 inch alloy wheels. Options on the tester including the Navigation and JBL audio package comprising of 6 disc Cd Changers, 13 speakers, 4 way adjustable passenger seat with lumbar, premium heated leather seats, power rear door with jam protection. Smart key system. DVD based navigation system, XM real time traffic capability and panoramic sunroof, The leather theme included the beautifully stitched seats, and leather wrapped steering wheel and gear shift knob adding an air of high luxury to the Venza. The tall roofline makes for a nice high driving position with plenty of headroom and excellent visibility. The high seats also allow for excellent entry and exit. Meanwhile the roomy back seat recline and the seatback folds nearly flat for ease of loading.

On the road the Venza features a decent driving experience and a smooth comfortable ride and has no real vices. It is not overtly sporty to drive, but is pleasant and reassuring to pilot. In short nothing much to complain about. The Venza is good value but can start getting expensive with extras. Altogether the options on our tester added a hefty $8,760 to the $30,875 base price. Highly recommended.

2013 Toyota Venza base MRSP $30,875)
Price as tested 2013 Venza AWD (including taxes freight and PDI) $41,405.