Inside Story: 2009 Toyota Venza AWD four cylinder toyota inside story
Inside Story: 2009 Toyota Venza AWD four cylinder toyota inside story
Toyota Venza AWD four-cylinder. Click image to enlarge

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Toyota Canada

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2009 Toyota Venza

Welcome to my nightmare of a dilemma.

It started out like any other Inside Story analysis. Drink a carafe of joe, grab the battered Moleskine notebook, find pants, and commence poking. Being a Toyota, I was expecting the Venza to fall into that creamy excitement middle filling known as “vanilla.” It’s a flavouring that has plagued the likes of Corolla and Camry in recent years, with continuing indifference to interior trim and creature comforts. Complacency appeared to be taking a strong foothold at the Toyota camp. The “You’ll Buy What We Build, And Like It” philosophy has had serious repercussions; just ask GM. For these reasons, I wasn’t expecting much more than a Camry-esque wagon. I wasn’t expecting an Omni-ute, with a double scoop of equipment, all-wheel drive, and an MSRP of $33,160. (Prices shown do not include freight, taxes, regional or promotional incentives.) A warning; some of the images seen in this edition of Inside Story, in regards to typical Toyota expectations, may be disturbing.

Inside Story: 2009 Toyota Venza AWD four cylinder toyota inside story
Inside Story: 2009 Toyota Venza AWD four cylinder toyota inside story
Toyota Venza AWD four-cylinder. Click image to enlarge
The Cockpit/Centre Stack

The leather-wrapped, three-spoke wheel is a manual tilt/telescoping affair, with audio controls found on the left-hand spoke, and a cruise control stalk at the four p.m. position. Headlamps are equipped with an auto detent, while wiper controls include both full and intermittent sweep for the rear wiper. The six-speed automatic transmission is equipped with a manu-gate, with a gear selection display located below the tachometer. An engine coolant sweep completes the array. To the left of the driver are the power heated exterior mirror controls, traction/stability control cancellation, plus the power hatch actuator, with a separate cancel switch.

Sniff! There’s a genuine hint of Lexus on the driver’s door pod, with the ‘all auto’ script underlining the power window controls. The centre stack asks this important design question; does the front passenger temperature adjustment dial need to mimic the primary control? Nope, with spot-on symmetry achieved with the tuning dial on the six-CD satellite-ready stacker. Zones are displayed on the upper TFT information screen, which also provides rear camera views, with adjustable colour and contrast. The camera view is the only sniggle, with the screen a little too far off for clarity. The fix could be substituting the existing rear camera viewing system from the FJ Cruiser, which is displayed on the interior rear-view mirror.

Cubbies!
Inside Story: 2009 Toyota Venza AWD four cylinder toyota inside story
Inside Story: 2009 Toyota Venza AWD four cylinder toyota inside story
Inside Story: 2009 Toyota Venza AWD four cylinder toyota inside story
Toyota Venza AWD four-cylinder. Click image to enlarge

No, there’s nothing in my eyes, except tears of joy for the attention paid to interior storage solutions in the Venza. It starts with a sizable non-locker glovebox, which refuses to be overwhelmed by the owner’s lit. Still in passenger footwell country is the storage pocket on the side of the centre stack, with 12-volt DC power. Each front door pocket gets dual bottle holders, with a single bottle-specific holder for the rear doors. A drop-down dashboard cubby to the left of the driver supports coin sorting for 5, 10, and 25-cent denominations. Considering that the U.S. Greenback has now joined coin, it’s high time that Loonie and Toonie-sized gullies begin to appear.

The Mother of All Cell Phone/MP3 Player Holders has arrived. The centre stack-mounted system can work with a removable gully, or via the spring-loaded cincher within. Holding the device is one thing; making it connect and/or charge usually falls under ‘Oops’. The Inside Story Flying Fickle Finger of Interior Debate returns, in this cameo demonstration. Charger/connectivity cables feed into the front console cubby, the home of the audio input and a 12-volt DC powerpoint. Covering this cubby is a unique sliding biscuit, which holds the two front cupholders and a flip-top secure cavity. A rubber sizing biscuit is included for the cupholders, which are without cinchers, but do provide good depth. The sliding armrest reveals the rear cubby, with a removable top tray. Seatbacks use hard-backed stowage pockets, with Stretch Armstrong-style belts. The rear centre armrest reveals a flip-top dual cupholder of good depth.

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