2013 Toyota Venza Review and Prices
The 2013 Toyota Venza is the best car for you if you want a five-seater that’s more than a car but less than an SUV.
The 2013 Toyota Venza -- essentially a station-wagon take on the Toyota Camry sedan – gets minor styling changes and connectivity upgrades. It does not differ in any significant way from the 2012 Toyota Venza and remains basically the same midsize crossover it’s been since its model-year 2009 introduction. The 2013 Venza continues with a choice of four- and six-cylinder engines, front- or all-wheel drive, and a base-price range of $28,510-$39,680.
Should you buy a 2013 Toyota Venza or wait for the 2014 Toyota Venza? Buy a 2013 Venza. It has the midlife freshening that’ll carry this crossover to its next full redesign, which could come for model year 2015. The 2014 Venza promises no advances worth waiting for, although its styling will have a shorter shelf life than the 2013’s – and it’ll likely cost more.
2013 Toyota Venza Changes back to top
Styling: Styling updates to the 2013 Toyota Venza are most visible in the subtly re-sculpted nose. It carries a simplified grille insert, a larger lower air intake, and revised fog lamps. The taillamps also are reshaped, the look of the standard alloy wheels is new, and three fresh colors are available: Toyota calls them Attitude Black, Cypress Pearl, and Cosmic Gray Mica.
Unchanged is Venza’s overall size and shape. It remains about as long and wide as the majority of midsize SUVs, including Toyota’s own seven-passenger Highlander. But Venza’s roofline is some 5.5 inches lower than that of the typical crossover and more similar to that of competing wagons like the 2013 Honda Crosstour and 2013 Subaru Outback.
To create the Venza, Toyota added to the basic Camry understructure a larger wagon body and a suspension beefed up to handle the extra weight. It filled the wheel openings with big 19- and 20-inch diameter wheels. It provided a relatively generous 8.1 inches of ground clearance and elevated the seating position, but kept the door sills low enough for a comfortable step-in height. Designers slanted the liftgate to make it stylish without slicing into cargo room. Indeed, Venza has an expansive 34.4 cubic feet behind its rear seat and 70.1 with both sides of the 60/40 split rear seatbacks folded down.
The cumulative result is a roomy midsize crossover that’s more than a car but something less than a truck-wannabe crossover SUV.
The 2013 Toyota Venza lineup returns three trim levels, base LE, upgraded XLE with leather upholstery, and top-line Limited with standard navigation among its additional equipment (see the Features section below for details). Toyota separates these models by the slightest of styling cues: door handles on the XLE and Limited are chrome versus body-colored on the LE, for example. All models have fog lamps and alloy wheels.
Mechanical: The 2013 Toyota Venza is mechanically unchanged. Its roots remain in the 2007-2011 generation Camry and although Toyota introduced a new-generation Camry for model-year 2012, it did not alter the platform significantly or change its dimensions.
That leaves the 2013 Venza with some carryover mechanical specifications that Toyota obviously considers well matched to its mission. Venza’s base engine remains a 2.7-liter four-cylinder with 181 horsepower and 182 pound-feet of torque (think of torque as the energy that gets a vehicle moving, horsepower as the force that keeps it moving.)
Returning as an option on the 2013 Venza LE and XLE models and standard on the Limited is a smooth and surprisingly strong 3.5-liter V-6 with 268 horsepower and 246 pound-feet of torque. This V-6 is also found in a variety of other cars and crossovers from Toyota and its premium Lexus brand.
Four-cylinder or V-6, the 2013 Venza again uses a six-speed automatic transmission with a gear lever that sprouts from the base of the dashboard and conveniently slips into a separate gate for manual-type shifting. Well calibrated to both engines, the transmission is key to providing any Venza with perfectly appropriate performance.
All 2013 Venza models continue with a choice of front-wheel drive or all-wheel-drive (AWD). Venza isn’t an off-road crossover, so the main function of its AWD system is to sustain traction on snow, slippery pavement, or gravel. It automatically redistributes power front-to-rear, then returns to front-wheel drive when grip is restored.
Though the appearance of the alloy wheels changes with the model-year 2013 freshening, Toyota decided against neutering Venza’s husky character by fitting smaller wheels and tires. Models with the four-cylinder engine again come with 19-inch diameter wheels. Venzas with the V-6 come with 20s. Both are among the largest standard sizes in the midsize crossover class – and among the largest on any Toyota. They contribute to Venza’s positioning as a sportier wagon than the family-focused Highlaner but also saddle this crossover with undue ride thumpiness and road noise.
An optional towing package allows V-6 Venzas to trailer up to 3,500 pounds, same as most light-duty SUVs. Venza’s handling balance is a sensible match for its intended duty, but the 2013 model would have benefitted from firmer, more precise steering – especially in V-6 versions.
Features: Most notable among the few changes to the 2013 Venza’s list of features is addition of Toyota’s Entune infotainment service; it’s optional on the LE model and standard on the XLE and Limited. The 2013 LE also gains the same outside mirrors with integrated turn signals and puddle lamps as the other Venza models.
In all, the 2013 Venza continues as a comprehensively equipped crossover. Even the LE includes such standard features as dual-zone automatic climate control, power driver’s seat with power lumbar, tilt/telescopic steering wheel with integrated audio controls, Bluetooth hands-free mobile-phone and music-streaming connectivity, three 12-volt power outlets, and 10 beverage holders. The LE also comes with Toyota’s Display Audio system, which includes a 6.1-inch dashboard touchscreen, six speakers, and an auxiliary audio jack and USB iPod interface.
The optional Convenience Package for the 2013 Venza LE adds a power liftgate and a backup camera. The LE’s Preferred Package option adds a panoramic glass roof with front power moonroof and the navigation system with Entune.
Toyota’s navigation system is accessed through the dashboard touchscreen or voice commands and responds to speech more accurately than systems in many competitors. The Entune component taps smartphones in the vehicle to access apps such as the Bing search engine and a selection of music options, including iHeartRadio Pandora Internte radio. It also helps deliver live weather and gas-station location and price information.
The 2013 Venza XLE upgrades the LE by incorporating the Convenience Package and navigation with Entune system and then includes standard leather upholstery, heated front seats, power passenger seat, driver-seat memory, and keyless entry with pushbutton ignition, among other features. The 2013 Venza XLE offers one major option, the Premium Package. This includes a JBL audio system with subwoofer, SiriusXM satellite radio (with three-month trial subscription), and HD radio with iTunes tagging.
The top-of-line 2013 Venza Limited comes standard with all the above, plus an upgraded navigation system with a seven-inch high resolution touchscreen, LED daytime running lights, and xenon headlamps with automatic high beams that detect oncoming vehicles and automatically switch to low-beam.
Pet-friendly Venza accessories available at Toyota dealerships include a rear pet ramp, booster seat with harness, and hammock style waterproof seat covers.
2013 Toyota Venza Prices back to top
Base-price range for the 2013 Toyota Venza is $28,510-$39,680. Compared with 2012 Venza base prices, that’s an increase of about $270 for LE models, about $1,580 for XLEs, and about $995 for Limited models. (Base prices in this review include the manufacturer’s mandated destination fee; Toyota’s fee for the 2013 Venza is $810. Note that Toyotas sold in certain Gulf and Southeastern states may carry a different destination fee.)
Base price for the 2013 Toyota Venza LE equipped with the four-cylinder engine is $28,510 with front-wheel drive and $29,960 with AWD. V-6 versions of the 2013 Venza LE start at $30,060 with front-drive and $31,780 with AWD.
Equipped with the four-cylinder engine, the 2013 Venza XLE is priced from $32,170 with front-drive and from $33,620 with AWD. Venza XLE V-6 editions have a base price of $33,990 with front-wheel-drive and $35,440 with AWD.
The 2013 Venza Limited comes with the V-6 and starts at $38,230 with front-wheel-drive and $39,690 with AWD.
2013 Toyota Venza Fuel Economy back to top
EPA gas-mileage ratings for the 2013 Toyota Venza are unchanged, leaving this crossover wagon more fuel-efficient than most midsize SUVs and ahead of like-equipped direct competitors.
Four-cylinder versions of the 2013 Venza rate 21/27/23 mpg city/highway/combined with front-wheel drive and 20/25/22 mpg with AWD.
Six-cylinder 2013 Venzas rate 19/26/22 mpg with front-wheel drive and 18/25/21 with AWD. Both engines use 87-octane gas.
2013 Toyota Venza Release Date back to top
The 2013 Toyota Venza went on sale in late May 2012.
What's next for the 2013 Toyota Venza back to top
The 2013 Toyota Venza’s facelift should carry this crossover to its next full redesign, likely to come for model year 2015. Between now and then, Toyota could explore ways to increase Venza’s fuel economy through engine tuning and other tricks. While Toyota has pledged that each of its model lines will include a hybrid by the early 2020s, a gas-electric version of the Venza isn’t likely as part of this first-generation run.
Bigger picture, Toyota will be monitoring sales of the Venza and that of similar puffed-up wagons to see if this segment of the crossover class has legs. It hasn’t been a pretty picture so far. The Chrysler Pacifica and Ford Freestyle flopped. The Mercedes-Benz R-class, Acura ZDX, and BMW 5-Series GT, and even the Ford Flex are sales disappointments. Venza got off to a slower-than-projected start, and Toyota’s fortunate the even slower-selling Honda Crosstour hasn’t proved much of a threat. All this raises the possibility that Venza may not have a long-term future as a station-wagon-flavored crossover.
2013 Toyota Venza Competition back to top
Honda Crosstour: It dropped the “Accord Crosstour” name for model-year 2012 but this remains Honda’s Venza-like take on the Accord midsize sedan. Crosstour bowed for model-year 2010 with front- or all-wheel drive but a V-6 engine only. A lower-priced four-cylinder model was added for 2012, though it’s available only with front-drive. Pricing and fuel economy are comparable to Venza’s but a racier slant to Crosstour’s liftgate keeps it short of the Toyota for cargo versatility – a serious flaw in our view. Crosstour matches Venza for passenger space, though, and it’s sportier to drive – a serious advantage in our view. Estimated 2013 Crosstour base-price range is $29,000-$36,000. An all-new Accord bows for model-year 2013, although what that means for the future of the slow-selling Crosstour is uncertain.
Subaru Outback: Outback is the original station-wagon crossover and the current version is the best yet. It has as much passenger room as Venza and Crosstour and more cargo volume than either. It also has more ground clearance, and all Outbacks come standard with an AWD system that’s highly adept, if not quite Rubicon-ready. Performance is tepid with the four-cylinder-engine, which needs more than the 170 horsepower it’s been saddled with for the past few years. Acceleration is good with the six-cylinder, which should return for model-year 2013 with 256 horsepower. Estimated base-price range for the 2013 Outback is $25,000-$33,000. Outback was all-new for model-year 2010 and won’t change again for several years.
Ford Edge: It’s taller and much less like a family station wagon than the others in this grouping, but Edge still treads just this side of faux-truck SUV. This macho-looking five-seat crossover should return for model-year 2013 with a choice of three engines. The turbocharged EcoBoost four-cylinder has 240 horsepower and a 21/30/24-mpg rating – but is available only with front-drive. AWD versions should again offer a choice of V-6s with 285 or 305 horsepower paired with front- or all-wheel drive. They’ll again rate several miles per gallon less than Venza’s V-6, a deficit owed in large measure to the Ford’s 300-400 pounds of additional curb weight versus the Toyota. Estimated 2013 Edge base-price range is $29,000-$39,000. Edge is on track to be redesigned for model-year 2014 or ’15.