January 7, 2009

Venza: The Toyota R-Class


The NY Times has a quick review of the Toyota's not-a-station-wagon, the Venza, which adds a telling layer of genealogy to the car's [sic] design. Yes, it was derived from the 2005 FT-SX [bottom] but did you know that FT-SX was, in turn, a reworking of the 1995 Lexus F.L.V. [Future Luxury Vehicle]? And that the FLV was designed for people whose "life stage needs for minivans and other multipurpose vehicles is finished."

In describing the Venza, Toyota likes to say nebulous things like the Venza "fills the gap between car and S.U.V." or the Venza is "a versatile five-passenger vehicle." Could Toyota believe that consumers aren't smart enough to recognize and appreciate a stylish station wagon?

It seems likely that Toyota is worried about baby boomers, who often shun station wagons, possibly because they can't put aside unfortunate childhood issues. But baby boomers (you are my people) should grow up. The Venza isn't the boxy wagon in which you may have suffered as a child. It is a luxurious and thoroughly likable vehicle...

Yes, yes, boomers, we feel your pain. Now that your kids are gone, and you've ruined the wagon market for the the rest of us, who don't want minivans in the first place, you may grow up.

update: Dave at Cars.com wrote a solid review of the Venza that takes nest fillers into account, not just empty nesters. He says it could be a very DT ride, though even down to the little things--like a lack of a USB port on the audio system--the Venza's Boomer targeting shows. Also, the wheels are too big for no reason.

High-End Nest for Pampered Empty Nesters [nyt]


Well I reviewed this and Toyota kept saying how great the low step in height was, but they didn't say how many golf clubs the rear could fit. Which made sense if it was a boomer car. I would guess 4-6 sets, it was gigantic.

The big deal to me is: The thing is HUGE inside. So if you wanted a BIG wagon this is really all you can buy these days. The 4 cylinder was poky but the 6 nice and the interior above average.

But it's got much mroe room than lets say a Murano, which is a lot more fun to drive and the step in will help with getting the kids in and out of baby seats.

The thing rides on standard 19s though so its a little rough riding for a Toyota. I would think it would be a very good DT type vehicle.

thanks for the link. I had forgotten the awful gadget integration. It was like they tried so hard and forgot the most important thing! Then you have Ford with Sync at $395 (standard on most models) which is the most useful thing ever. Strange. Driving the old fusion to detroit Sat., can't wait for the ride because of Sync.
Drive the new Fusion home ;)

What? No, Hybrid option?

The Venza seems pretty good but that connectivity limitation is a little behind the times. Seems like everyone raves about SYNC (pretty surprising given that the two companies behind it, Microsoft and Ford, rarely receive universal praise). SYNC might be enough to get me into the Ford showroom. It's too bad they don't make the car I want, a Fusion wagon. The Flex is interesting but about a foot too long for street parking in NYC. If they made a wagon version of the Fusion or Mazda6 with AWD and SYNC, I'd be in it tomorrow. But I guess one dad does not a market make. I'll just be driving my Legacy GT wagon into the ground...not a bad thing at all...I can live with a few more years of watching the faces of BMW and Audi drivers as they get smoked at the toll booth by a wagon with a Yakima box on the roof.

Kaz, I wouldn't be surprised if a hybrid version arrived in the future but the 4 cylinder is pretty frugal. It does a worse than the Hylander/RX Hybrids in the city but better on the highway. Sure, a 4 cylinder Venza won't be as satisfying as a hybrid when the valet pulls up with it at the DNC fundraiser but it will help keep some of the smug out of South Park.

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