UPDATED: Why The Toyota Venza Is What The Camry Wagon Should Have Been

Front 3/4 view of 2014 Toyota Venza
The 2014 Toyota Venza.

Over the past few years, we've made our admiration known for the Toyota Venza.  It's the closest thing extant to a Camry wagon, and looks a lot slicker than the last iteration of those.

Venzas don't get a lot of love from the enthusiast automotive journalism community, but for those few of us who write from a more everyperson perspective, Venza's about as solid as they come.

Rear 3/4 view of 2014 Toyota Venza
2014 Toyota Venza.

You can get a base-level front-wheel drive LE with a four-cylinder for $27,950, and you'd have a fine car there.  But our tester was the top-of-the-line Limited V6 AWD.  Price of entry there is $39,570.  The V6 is plenty powerful  at 268 horsepower and gets 18 mpg city/25 highway (not much of a penalty over the 181 horsepower four's 20/26).

Interior view of 2014 Toyota Venza
2014 Toyota Venza interior.

Beyond that, 20-inch wheels are standard. Yes, 20s...which are a big part of Venza's look, style and attitude. In addition to all the usual active and passive safety features, you also get HID headlamps with automatic high beam and fog lamps, a panoramic glass roof, heated outside mirrors with turn signal, puddle lamps, a blind spot mirror, variable windshield wipers with de-icers, privacy glass, a power liftgate with jam protection, dual-zone climate control, premium HDD navigation with Toyota's Entune infotainment app suite, a 13-speaker JBL audio system with USB and Bluetooth, heated leather front seats (the driver's is an 8-way power unit with memory and lumbar...the passenger gets a 4-way power seat), fold-flat rear seats, a tilt and telescoping steering column with controls for audio and climate on the steering wheel, push button start, power windows and three power outlets (though the number of devices still powered by cigarette lighter adaptors is dwindling and more USB outlets per car is what the world needs now).

Options on our test car were limited to a tow prep package (engine oil cooler, larger radiator fan and heavy-duty alternator) for $220 and floor mats and cargo mat for $290.  With $860 delivery processing and handling fee, the bottom line rings up at $40,940. As an only child who grew up with a station wagon ('64 Falcon), I can testify that not everyone needs seating for 8...and while the Falcon was a great alternative for a 3-person family to a nine-seat Country Squire, the Venza is a solid choice for someone who needs more than a sedan, but not a minivan...and who appreciates a certain amount of dash and style in the bargain.

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