By Cars.com EditorsMay 13, 2009
About the video
From the 2008 Detroit auto show, Cars.com's Joe Wiesenfelder walks you through the 2009 Toyota Venza.
(upbeat rock music) Hi, I'm Joe Wiesenfelder from Cars.com here with the 2009 Toyota Venza. It's one of the most controversial and definitely high profile cars introduced to the Detroit Auto Show.
You're looking at it, you're wondering "What is it?" Well, it's a crossover and has five seats. It comes with front wheel drive, all wheel drive, a new four cylinder RV6 and a six speed automatic transmission. Now, arguably this car competes with the likes of the Ford Edge. It's five seats, even though it's relatively large. The question is who's gonna buy this, especially when Toyota has a Highlander, which is a car based SUV, not that much bigger. Now this is a story you've heard many times, it's higher than a car, it's not quite as high as an SUV, so you have ground clearance but, it's the right level to get into. The interior is nicely done, this has the option of leather package, which also comes with a wood trim. All are really nice quality materials, especially the wood, it has this muted finish instead of that shiny type that everyone's used to. Now, something that a lot of people complain about is a shifter that's not in the normal place. This is a little bit high, it does have the sequential manual shifting mode, but it's an automatic. So basically you're gonna put it in Drive, you're gonna forget about it. It'll be fine, trust me. Now the center console looks mild mannered. It's actually quite large. You move the armrests back as usual, but you can also slide this part forward, so basically it starts here and it ends back here. Generally speaking, it's very roomy back here. I'm six feet tall, I have plenty of leg room, knee room. You can adjust the back rest for angle, which is good to have. I noticed that the seats don't move forward and back as they do in a lot of crossovers these days, but there is no third row seat so it's not quite as important in this situation. From the front, you can flip the seats down, there are actually levers in the back from the hatch where you can do it from there too. Unfortunately, lift gate won't open on the show car. With both of them down, you get a good amount of storage space. The shape of the lift gate though tends to take away space. In terms of safety features it's full of them, even seven airbags, which includes a knee airbag for the driver. Also a safety issue in terms of visibility, you're sitting higher than a regular car, which is good, but that's a pretty big pillar back there. It looks like it'd be a pretty serious blind spot. The Venza seems to be a really nicely executed car. The question is, "Who's gonna buy it?" Why would a company not only that makes the Highlander crossover, but also makes a Rav4 SUV, 4Runner SUV, and a Sienna minivan need another model? One thing's for sure, of all the manufacturers, Toyota is in the best position to make it anyway. Put it out there and see how it does. <v Announcer>For additional information on this car or any other go to cars.com and our blog KickingTires.