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Click image for a high-res gallery of the Toyota Venza

Toyota just unveiled the Venza "crossover sedan," which is really another name for, you know, "crossover." With the Nissan Murano and Ford Edge obviously in its sights, the 5-passenger Venza neatly and stylishly fills the void left when the Highlander grew a third row and got bigger. Powered by either a 268-horsepower V6 or a 2.7L four-banger, the North America-designed and built Venza will be sold as a single trim level vehicle. The primary differences are that the six gets dual exhausts and 20-inch wheels, while the 2.7L has a single outlet and 19-inchers. Both engines are connected to a six-speed automatic with sequential shift, and the V6 has a towing capacity of 3,500 pounds, which exactly matches that of the Ford Edge and the current Nissan Murano. The front end clearly communicates Toyota's current styling themes while being Edgelike in its bright, large grille, and headlights that arc out towards the fenders. Inside, the Venza has an upscale, airy cockpit with niceties like contrast-piped leather seats. Storage is typical for vehicles in this class, and like its main competitors, it offers a panoramic glass roof. Pricing is to be announced, but if past performance is any indication, we expect to see a lot of Venzas filled with families on the road before long.

UPDATE: live video of the unveiling of the Toyota Venza is available after the jump.

Toyota Stages World Debut Of All-New Venza At 2008 North American International Auto Show

January 14, 2008 – Detroit, MI - Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc., unveiled the all-new 2009 Venza crossover sedan at a press conference here today at the 2008 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). Venza will raise the crossover vehicle to new levels by combining a unique blend of sedan refinement and sport utility vehicle (SUV) functionality.

"The all-new Venza was developed as a vehicle that combines the styling, comfort and fun-to-drive performance elements of a five-passenger sedan with the surprising utility of an SUV," said Bob Carter, Toyota Division group vice president and general manager. "This winning combination will be ideal for active 'boomers' and young couples with small families."

All aspects of Venza's engineering and design were targeted specifically for the North American market where it will be sold exclusively. Venza was primarily engineered at Toyota Technical Center in Ann Arbor, Mich., and designed at Toyota's Calty design studios in Newport Beach, Calif. and Ann Arbor, Mich. Venza will be assembled at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky (TMMK), in Georgetown, Ky.

The development focus of the Venza design team was to create a new crossover vehicle that shifted away from the more traditional SUV styling themes that tend to dominate the segment. Calty designers leaned more heavily on a sleek sedan concept with a wide stance that featured a sporty exterior and premium comfort interior but would also be equipped with important SUV attributes such as cargo space, towing capability and all-wheel-drive performance.

The exterior design of the four-door Venza begins with an imposing front end featuring a distinctive grille, headlights and fog lamps for an aggressive, yet classy appearance. The front conforms to a sleek and aerodynamic shape with short overhangs, crisp character lines and a roofline and ground clearance that are lower than a typical crossover. From behind, Venza's refined appearance is complete with an angled rear hatch, rear spoiler and wide wraparound tail lights that interconnect with the hatch door.

On the inside, Calty designers and TTC engineers made comfort, refinement and utility a priority for the five-passenger Venza. A lower rocker design will allow occupants to more easily step in and out of the vehicle than a typical sedan. Venza will also feature a higher ride height and hip points that will help provide significantly better driver visibility than most sedans and easier ingress and egress than most SUVs.

Venza will feature a spacious interior providing ample room for all five passengers and abundant SUV-like cargo space behind the second row of seats. The rear hatch provides a low cargo height that allows for easy loading and unloading of luggage and outdoor gear. Easy-to-use levers, one on each side of the rear cargo area, allow the 60/40 split rear seats to fold flat, providing additional storage space for extra long items such as surf boards, skis, camping gear and gardening equipment. For added passenger comfort, the rear seats recline up to 14 degrees.

A creative interior design complemented with an array of comfort and convenience features provides Venza with a refined look and feel that is commonly reserved for a luxury sedan. The flow of the instrumentation panel (IP) creates a unique 60/60 design that gives both driver and front passenger the look and feeling that 60 percent of the IP is accessible from their seating position.

An extra long center console extends from the IP and slopes down to a center compartment with a unique sliding console cover. Sliding open the compartment lid reveals a large storage well deep enough to hold a large purse. The compartment is also illuminated and equipped with an auxiliary audio jack and 12-volt power point. The upper portion of the center console houses the gear-shift lever for easy and comfortable driver access. Climate control functions are centrally located on the upper center console, providing easy accessibility for both driver and passenger. The center console also contains an iPod/MP3 storage compartment with wire management and illuminated dual cupholders.

All Venza models will be equipped with an array of standard features including auto dual zone air conditioning, AM/FM six-disc CD, tilt/telescopic steering wheel with audio controls, remote keyless entry, electrochromic rearview mirror with compass, a multi-information display, cruise control, optitron gauges, rear wiper, privacy glass, and much more. On V6 models Venza will come standard with dual exhaust tips and will be the first Toyota model to ride on standard 20-inch alloy wheels. Four-cylinder models will come standard with 19-inch alloy wheels.

Chrome accents throughout give Venza a refined look and feel. Models equipped with an optional leather-trimmed interior will feature wood-grain-type trim and seats stitched with dark piping that is tastefully coordinated with Venza's standard linear grain dashboard and steering wheel. An array of storage space will be available throughout the vehicle to accommodate passenger belongings. A large storage compartment with an additional 12-volt power point located on the passenger side of the front center console will be sizeable enough to contain maps and magazines.

A panoramic roof will be offered as an option and will be a first for the Toyota vehicle lineup. The roof will feature separate glass panels over the front and rear seats. The front glass panel will have a power tilt/slide function.

Venza will also offer an Automatic High Beam headlight system, another Toyota first. When high beam headlights are in use sensors in the Automatic High Beam system will detect oncoming traffic and automatically switch the headlights to low-beam. When the Automatic High Beam sensors no longer detect oncoming traffic the system will switch the headlights back to high-beam mode.

Additional optional equipment will include a navigation system equipped with a JBL audio system, integrated satellite radio capability and Bluetooth® technology; a premium JBL audio system with AM/FM six-disc CD changer, satellite radio capability and Bluetooth®, rear seat entertainment system, a Smart Key System, back-up camera and a power rear door.

The sleek and sporty styling, refined interior and outstanding utility features are complemented with fun-to-drive performance attributes expected by owners with active lifestyles. Aggressive handling typically found in a performance coupe is well-balanced by the on-road comfort of an upscale sedan.

Venza will be available in front- and all-wheel-drive configurations. It will provide drivers and passengers the best of both worlds by delivering the quiet comfortable ride expected from a full-size sedan along with the peace-of-mind that comes with all-wheel-drive.

Power will be generated by an available 3.5-liter V6 that will produce 268 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 246 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,700 rpm with a towing capability of 3,500 pounds. Standard power will come from an all-new 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine that will deliver capable performance and provide excellent fuel efficiency and low emissions. Both engines will be mated with a six-speed sequential-shift electronically-controlled automatic transmission.

Venza will be equipped with a comprehensive list of standard safety features. It will provide a total of seven airbags, including a driver's knee airbag, front seat-mounted side airbags, and side curtain airbags for both rows of seats. Venza will also be the first sedan with Toyota's STAR safety system, featuring anti-lock brakes, traction control, electronic brake-force distribution, brake assist, and vehicle stability control. Venza will also feature active head rests as standard equipment.

"Venza will establish an exciting new crossover niche that will combine the finest attributes of Toyota's diverse vehicle lineup," said Carter. "It will cater to buyers who are looking for the value and reliability of a Camry, the comfort and upscale refinement of an Avalon, and the utility and functionality of a Highlander SUV in one very stylish and sporty package."

"When it goes on sale in late 2008, the Venza crossover sedan will represent Toyota's latest commitment to driving change in the marketplace."


2.7-liter four-cylinder engine
Horsepower: TBD
Torque: TBD
Six-speed sequential shift automatic transmission

3.5-liter V6
Horsepower: 268 @ 6,200
Torque: 246 lb.-ft. @ 4,700 rpm
Six-speed sequential shift automatic transmission
Drive System: Front- and All-Wheel-Drive

Overall Length: 189.0
Overall Width: 75.0
Overall Height: 63.4
Wheelbase: 109.3
Ground clearance: 8.1
Wheels: 19-inch alloy wheels (four-cylinder only)
20-inch alloy wheels (standard on V6 and available on four-cylinder)

Tire Size: 20-inch: 245/50R20
19-inch: 245/55R19

Towing Capacity: 3,500 lbs. (V6 model)

Seating Capacity: 5

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      props to the big ugly round T for being at least 3 years late to the party on this one and directly ripping off Ford styling / design cues while they're at it.

      btw, I suppose the author should also mention CX-7 in his comparo...
      • 7 Years Ago
      Sweet! A bigger Matrix!!!

      • 7 Years Ago
      It's far better looking than the new Highlander and Land Cruiser. It takes its cues from the Lexus RX. Not groundbreaking--but at least not painfully ugly.
      • 7 Years Ago
      They need another SUV? And what is up with everyone putting the shifter on the dashboard these days? Is Citroen getting royalities since they did this 70 years ago?
      • 6 Years Ago
      It isnt like a Camry Wagon just a little taller! And it sure aint a Station wagon! Have you every heard of the Lexus RX 300??? A very nice but small SUV. Toyota & Lexus are the same people & it is just Toyota's version of the Lexus SUV...Very nice. It is bigger than the RAV 4 but smaller than the Land Cruiser & price between them as well about 25k-30k...Not too bad! Im gonna get one as soon as they come out this Thanksgiving :)
      • 7 Years Ago
      I can dig this. I wonder if there is any relation to the JDM Toyota Caldina.
        • 7 Years Ago
        They share a common platform. I don't know if the similarities run further than that
        • 7 Years Ago
        I don't think there's any relation... the Venza is built off the Avalon platform.
        • 7 Years Ago
        The Caldina is basically an Avensis/Premio wagon.

        I'm not sure what platform the Venza is on, but if it's built in North America, it's probably the Camry platform.

        However, the Venza has the door handles of the Avensis, not the Camry. The Prius has the same door handles, as do the JDM version of the Corolla and the JDM-only Mark X (the non-JDM Corolla has the Camry's door handles). I'm not really sure if this has any significance, but it's a curiosity.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Supra please? with supercharged battery packs to make it the ultimate hybrid sports car.
      • 7 Years Ago
      does toyota have enough suv's..........

      dont get me wrong i think suv's are great, yet this will be suv # 7 in the line up.......

      the new rav4 is about the size of the old highlander and the new highlander, well its not that much larger than the old 1..........

      im guessing you cant get a highander w/o the 3rd row seat
        • 7 Years Ago
        You can actually. But its a option to delete the 3rd row. Saves you $700 also. But they're kinda rare, highlanders without 3rd rows.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Looks like the blah version of the new Buick.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Another home run...it will sell like crazy.

      Sorry GM lovers - whatever GM does, Toyota does even better... feel sorry for them, cant catch a break.
        • 7 Years Ago
        what does this vehicle do "better" than GM's crossovers or the Taurus X for that matter? it certianly doesnt look better and its smaller and it has a worse looking center stack.

        we now have a Toyota magnum.
      • 7 Years Ago
      It's a bloated Highlander that ate a Lexus RX300 that ate a Camry. Or simply put, it's ugly.
      • 7 Years Ago
      This is the car I've been waiting for. I have an 02 Camry w/120k miles and have been waiting to trade it in for a Camry wagon, but this is even better.

      The problem with traditional wagons is their cargo area is too short, they're only good for items that are long but not tall. This is why SUV's are more popular for carrying stuff, they can handle taller cargo. 2 Mtn bikes will not stand up in the rear of a wagon, but they have no problem in my friends 4Runner.

      That said, I would never buy an SUV. I don't like the ride height, ground clearance, & truck-like tires. I test drove a RAV4, but didn't get it for these reasons (plus the tire hanging on the rear-side-opening gate).

      People are comparing this to an Edge, but this is so much more car-like, and probably weighs 800 lbs less.

      Where can I put in my pre-order?
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