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Mom's Review: Toyota Venza Limited 2014
Good for the long haul; comfortable for the kids

By Kathy Chin Leong

We are getting 26 miles per gallon, and for a SUV crossover that's the Toyota Venza Limited, that's pretty good. On a recent trek to the mountains, I was surprised that our gas mileage was so economical. We had loaded the car down with weekend suitcases and snacks, so I figured we would be dragging, but we were not.

This is the Venza Limited V6, priced at $39,570. The original Venza is a mid-sized SUV crossover model that was introduced to the world back in 2008.  Since its intro, the Venza has received solid, positive reviews.  And now with this version, the quality has not been compromised.  Going uphill, speed pickup is good as well as the braking system. When turning corners, you don't feel like you are about to tip over. Instead, the sensation is as if the tires are gripping the road well so you feel secure.  

One of the best things about this all wheel drive (AWD) vehicle is the ease of the ride in both highway and city.  It is quiet within, and the shocks work so well that bumps are not an inconvenience. You know the nuts and bolts are snug, and everything sealed well enough for us to hear enjoy the satellite radio even at low volume.  

Handling is easy and very similar to the Toyota Sienna.  The steering wheel and connection to the slight movements are precise, but not too sensitive and touchy.  If you have driven Toyota's before, it does seem like you are handling a small car given the small steering wheel size of even though it is larger.

Like other new cars on the market, this four-door, five-passenger vehicle features a keyless entry. Press the button while you have the foot on the brake, release the parking brake, and you are ready to drive.  The dashboard has a practical and nicely designed look and feel. A separate viewing console in the top of the middle of the dashboard features the essential info: time, exterior temperature, distance to empty, and the inside temperature for both the driver and passenger. 

Climate controls for each passenger feature independent air conditioning and heat controls in addition to left and right seat warmers.  The air conditioning emits the cool air extremely well, and I can attest to that as we drove in temperatures that exceeded 108 F degrees outside. We sat in comfort in our roving cavern at 67 degrees.  

With front airbags throughout for driver and passenger, and side and curtain airbags for the back seat folks, you are fairly safe knowing that these will activate if needed.  Other safety features include so many different lights you could illuminate the new Levi's Stadium. You've got a set of daytime running lights, fog lights, and rear side marker lights, and side turn signal lights. With enough mirrors to start a fun house, not only are other drivers obvious to you, you are obvious to other drivers.  

Enough cup holders and storage capacity on long trips is always a concern. After all, having kids hold chips and dip and soda cans in their laps does not give a stressed out parent driver a peaceful state of mind.  Here you have the luxury of dual cup holders on the bottom half of every door.  

In the front, you get a pair of cup holders in the central console. The console features a deep compartment for electronic gear, a USB auxiliary plug, cigarette lighter, and a plastic molded pocket for your cell phone. The lidded compartment also serves as an armrest.  On the front row passenger side, there is even room for holding reading material on the left side pocket. A second power plug outlet is found on the passenger side, and a third one on the back rear hatch. One niggling point is that I wished it came with a three prong plug somewhere so I could recharge my computer. 

Up to three seat passengers can fit into second row. And when you have just two people in the back, you can pull down a central, extra wide armrest for additional comfort.

And speaking of comfort, this model features two moon roofs that are both able to open and close.  If you are enjoying the weather, open up your roofs to let in the glorious sun.

I spoke about storage before, and I must mention it again.  It is essential, and the Venza's rear storage capacity is generous and comes with a horizontal black pull shade to cover your possessions.  The lift opens up electronically, closing via a button on the hatch or remote control. Shopping bag hooks, a luggage compartment light, and a rear seat lever to flatten out Row Two also  gives you flexibility for camping, sleeping, or transporting furniture or large boxes. 

With the end of the year coming up, these cars are already being discounted. If you have the chance, snag one now.  Roomy, safe, and extra comfortable, this car will be your family's friend for a long, long time.
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DETAILS:

Toyota Venza 2014
4-door, 5-passenger
18-20 mpg city; 25-26 highway
17.7 gallon tank

Retail: $39, 570
Base model: $27,950
www.toyota.com

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Kathy Chin Leong is a mother of two and an aunt of more than ten kids.  She has been driving for many decades.  

 


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