Review – 2015 Toyota Venza Limited AWD

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In every automakers’ lineup, there is bound to be a slow seller for whatever reason. Quite often, though, this slow seller is a gem in the rough just perfect for the right buyer. In Toyota’s case, this is the 2015 Toyota Venza. Now, in its last year of production, is a great time to consider picking one up before they are gone forever.

Review - 2015 Toyota Venza Limited AWD

The exterior may seem a little bland to some, but we really liked it.

The 2015 Toyota Venza is classified as a crossover vehicle offering sedan-like characteristics in with the higher sitting position of a SUV. It is essentially the “in-betweener” vehicle for those who don’t want a Camry, but also don’t want a RAV4 or Highlander. While other automakers offer a crossover with much success, Toyota’s model hasn’t caught on. We are a bit hard pressed to see why.

For the 2015 model, the Venza comes in a LE, XLE and Limited levels ranging from $29,065 to $39,940. The trims are differentiated with styling features and plusher interiors as you would expect. Our test model was a Limited with AWD.

Driving Impressions

On the road, the 2015 Toyota Venza Limited offers plenty of power with its 3.5L V6 and a smooth comfortable drive. It is important to note the 3.5L V6 is the upgraded engine with base models receiving a four-cylinder. Both engines are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.

While the 3.5L V6 isn’t something to write home about, it did a fantastic job of powering this smaller vehicle and was perfect in this application. It produces 268 HP @ 6200 RPM with 246 lb-ft. @ 4700 RPM. This translated into plenty of power whenever we needed it. We wonder if one of the reasons the Venza is being killed is due to the base four-cylinder mediocre 181 HP @ 5200 RPM and 182 lb-ft @ 4200 RPM.

Review - 2015 Toyota Venza Limited AWD

This 3.5L V6 should be the base engine since it works so well in this model.

One of the great things about driving the Venza is really, how easy it is to drive. It really does drive like a car with a good turning radius and smooth ride comfort. On highways, dirt roads and pavement, the Venza did a great job of handling the various road conditions with barely a notice of their change.

If you were to pick a downside of the Venza it has to be the fuel economy. Our test model is EPA rated at 18/25/21 MPG city/highway/combined. This is OK fuel economy, yet we certainly expected more.

Overall, the 2015 Toyota Venza did a great job of handling everything we threw at it and we were really happy with its performance.

Exterior Impressions

On the outside, the 2015 Toyota Venza has a grown-up station wagon look. We akin this look to the current Subaru Outback and while it doesn’t have a robust look like a pickup, it doesn’t look fragile.

The front has a subtle grille styling matching it with other Toyota products and doesn’t have any sharp lines or edges that could turn buyers off. It really matches the older styling of the Camry and we could see people calling it bland. We thought it was in-between bland and sharp ourselves and this is likely to the higher rear-end giving it some character.

While the styling is a bit “typical Toyota,” that isn’t a bad thing and we didn’t any fault with it.

Interior Styling 

Review - 2015 Toyota Venza Limited AWD

While the interior won’t win any awards, it is nice with everything well within reach.

On the inside, we were pretty amazed by the amount of cargo room and how nice everything fit. Our two young boys were able to both have a good amount of room around their booster seats. Plus, we had a large cargo area in the back that fit a whole host of things like bikes, golf clubs and groceries.

Review - 2015 Toyota Venza Limited AWD

A big plus for us was the panoramic sunroof.

One feature we really liked was the panoramic sunroof with front tilt and slide. While we have seen this feature in other SUVs like the Toyota Highlander, we missed the fact it was standard in the Limited edition of the Venza. Our boys were really happy it was a feature and spent a lot of time watching the clouds as we drove.

Again, the interior is probably more “typical Toyota” for many car buyers. Nothing really stood out and everything flowed together really nicely. It was easy to reach knobs and adjust stereo and temperature settings. Also, the driver visibility was ideal.

Right Car For Right Buyer

In the end, the 2015 Toyota Venza is perfect for the customer who is tired of squatting down into a sedan, yet feels like a Highlander is too big. Sadly, it is going away and Toyota says this is because customers are gravitating more to a RAV4 or Highlander. While, we can certainly see these vehicles being similar, we still think the Venza has its place. If you are looking for a newer vehicle that flies under the radar a bit, the 2015 Toyota Venza is worth a look.


Model: 2015 Toyota Venza Limited AWD

Engine: 3.5L V6 DOHC with Dual VVT-I

Transmission: 6-speed automatic

Power: 268 HP @ 6200 RPM

Torque: 246 lb-ft. @ 4700 RPM

Price as tested: $42,193

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  1. Brian J says:

    Why doesn’t it sell? Simple. It costs the same as a Highlander and does less. I’m surprised to see as many on the road that I do see. Toyota should have priced this one 4-5,000 less than Highlander. Then it might have been more of a sales success.

    • Tim Esterdahl says:

      Brian J,

      Yeah, I could see price as a big factor. Its to bad too. It really is pretty good.


  2. KMS says:

    My wife has a 2014. Before that she had a Highlander. I will say that in AWD it is a very capable vehicle and on par with the Highlander for the vast majority of drivers. Both are built on the Camry frame yet I really enjoy the smooth ride out of the Venza. Personally I feel it rides smoother than the Highlander.

    As far as looks go, it’s all about personal taste. It is “bland” to a point but to be honest, many of the vehicles in the Toyota lineup can be considered bland. This is where Toyota is falling behind in my opinion.

  3. Randy says:

    If an Avalon station wagon was made it would be called – Venza. It’s not exactly an Avalon or a Highlander; it is sort of in between. Is it as quiet and smooth as an Avalon? Does the AWD perform as well as it does on the Highlander? I do not know?

    If Toyota made an AWD Avalon along with the current AWD Highlander I would be hard pressed to decide between the two. It would be an Avalon AWD since I have a Tundra; but it would be a Highlander AWD if I did not have the Tundra. In either case I would still pass on the Venza AWD.

  4. mk says:

    I wasn’t too impressed with the Venza, mostly the pricing. It has it’s purpose and is somewhat nice, but I prefer the higher up sitting and entry/exit of an SUV, the Venza still sits lower but not as bad as any car.

    It was blah looking inside and out if you ask me.

    Should be some great deals on one though on the lot if you want one getting below dealer cost which you better since are not cheap.

  5. GoBig says:

    I have seen just a few in Alaska. For whatever the reason, Subaru owns the small wagon market here. The Forester and the Outback just dominate. I assume the lower price point is a big reason, along with the fact they have been established for decades whereas the Venza was a new arrival.

    Years ago, the Toyota Tercel wagon seemed to do well here, but we are a small market.

  6. Jordan says:

    Alright, I will give them this: I really like that sunroof. Now if only there was a little more going for it than just a great sunroof.

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