2009 Toyota Venza – Click above for high-res image gallery There's a workout regimen called Crossfit that aims to increase one's abilities in eight different areas. Crossfit doesn't reward the specialist, it rewards the well-rounded; it doesn't create marathoners, it creates decathletes. The point of Crossfit is to allow you to enter any situation with the confidence that you have things like the agility, strength and conditioning to do well. The Toyota Venza has the same ethos: pitched as 70-percent car, 30-percent SUV, the Venza wants to do everything well. And when we say "well", we mean it wants to do everything better than the competition: 10,000 people were leaving Toyota every year to get into something between the Camry and the Highlander, things that ended up being the Ford Edge, Mazda CX-7 and Infiniti FX. The Venza is Toyota's request to those buyers to "Come back to papa." Follow the jump to find out whether you should heed the call. %Gallery-36546% Photos copyright ©2008 Jonathon Ramsey/Weblogs, Inc. Toyota calls the Venza "the car, optimized." What occurred to us when we saw it in person is "jacked-up wagon." We won't christen it a JUW because we really don't need any more acronyms for a crossover. Still, that's what we think. And the reason we think this is because the Venza, unlike some rounder crossovers like the Edge and FX, is more long and narrow than full-bodied. To us, it's closer to the spirit of the Volvo V70 and Audi Allroad than it is to its direct competition. It is also a much better looking vehicle in person than it is in photos, because it is in person that you reap the benefit of all of the car's lines, many of which are simply ironed out in when represented in pixels. And the Venza's rather low height combined with the body's aesthetic 'purpose' allows it to sit on 20s (on the V6 model) like it means it. In Toyota-speak, the design language is called "Vibrant Clarity". (On a side note, we were told the new Prius and the Venza are the two cars leading the Vibrant Clarity charge.) We don't know exactly what that means, but for us and the Venza, it represents a fair bit of subtle dimension given to the body, and much of it actually works. Up front, there are two short swage lines emanating from the Toyota badge in the hood that you're unlikely to notice until you're standing over them and can see their effect on a reflection. Out back, the rear-quarter area is a herd of lines and angles. The busyness of it, compared to the rest of the car, signals "We've got things going on back here," but it's never raucous, comes together well, and nicely breaks up what might otherwise be a sensation of pure girth. We're still not the biggest fans of Toyota's I'm-coming-out-at-ya! light design, either front or rear. But in a sign of the brand's commitment to staying true …
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|MPG||19 City / 26 Hwy|
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|Power||268 @ 6200 rpm|
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