The challenges to Toyota over the last two years have been too well documented to recount here; we will anyway. They include an earthquake, tsunami, nuclear meltdown, accusations of unintended acceleration and the various recalls that occasionally beset even the most quality-conscious of manufacturers. Thankfully, most of these calamities – natural and self-inflicted – are behind Toyota Motor Company, leaving room on the corporate calendar for the launch of the refreshed Toyota Venza. And since the official launch of the 2013 Venza occurs at the 2012 New York Auto Show in early April, there remains time to ‘bate’ your breath – if, by some chance, your breath is not already bated.
You’ll remember the Toyota Venza, introduced in the 2009 model year, as the not-quite-a-wagon-and-not-quite-an-SUV, built atop Camry underpinnings and styled by Toyota’s Calty Design studios in Southern California. Intended only for North America, the Venza might have been called a Camry wagon if only consumers in the U.S. would commit to buying a wagon. Regrettably, customers in this market won’t commit to even saying ‘wagon’; forget trying to sell them one. So, ‘Venza’ it was, and as a more expressive take – with a chiseled nose, child-bearing hips and 5th door – on the Camry sedan the new Venza found a respectable number of buyers.
This fall, however, it will be five years since the Venza’s launch, and while that timetable might cry out for an all-new iteration, the Venza’s relatively niche appeal suggests little more than a refresh. Although only ‘teaser’ photos have been released, Toyota indicates the Venza’s aerodynamic shape has been “tastefully” modified with new upper and lower grille, fog lamps and rear taillights. Two powertrain options remain – a four-cylinder and V6 – and both engines can be had with either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.
In 2012 the Venza received three grades: LE, XLE and Limited. Those remain intact for 2013, although there will be additional standard features in all three. Most notably, Toyota’s Entune multi-media system will be available on both XLE and Limited, while the value-driven LE receives puddle lamps and outer mirror turn signals.
With the Venza’s 2009 launch Toyota showed a couple of Venza concepts at SEMA, the performance aftermarket extravaganza held each fall in Las Vegas. Were it our 2013 Venza launch we’d reserve some space on the SEMA floor, give a shout-out to Toyota’s partners at Subaru and concoct an Audi allroad-type wagon with boosted power and a performance-oriented all-wheel drive system. And we’d call it a wagon…