I find it odd to think of myself as a “station Wagon” guy. What constitutes a station wagon anyway? Today it seems there are SUV’s, CUV’s and sedans. Is a CUV a station wagon? How many seats does a car need to qualify?
In my day a station wagon was driven by your chain smoking aunt with the little pocket cigarette case that also held a lighter. There were a bunch of kids walking around in the back area while she drove down the road careful not to spill her bourbon and coke. Yep that was a station wagon.
But, today the lines are blurred. I would argue that the Buick Enclave is actually a station wagon with a lift kit. The Dodge Magnum is a wagon with serious horsepower and plenty of attitude. Have station wagon become cool?
One has. The all-new Toyota Venza is the coolest station wagon I’ve ever driven. I am more impressed with the Venza than I am with the rest of the Toyota stable. What a great car. If the Camry is too small and the Sequoia is too large you now find yourself fitting into the Venza.
The Venza, new this year, feels far more formidable than the Camry that shares it’s platform. The ride is better, the sound deadening is better and if you’re asking me it feels faster. Even with the 2.7 liter four banger. On that subject, I was uber impressed with the acceleration of the 2.7 liter. While claiming 182HP and 182pound-feet of torque the Venza feels much stronger. When it was delivered the driver apologized for only having the four under the hood. Maybe after hearing that my expectations were very low…I don’t know. But, what I do know is that the 2.7 liter should make you feel safe in any driving condition. There is a six available that produces 268HP and 246 lb-ft of torque but, I would spend my money on leather seats instead.
Which brings me to the interior of the Venza. The Styling is great inside and out but the interior is sublime. The test car was appointed with wood grain and leather accents that seemed more Lexus than Toyota. The seats were almost too comfortable. Offering just the right amount of support in all of the right places. There all also great option packages to include a power lift gate, rearview camera, duel sunroofs, keyless ignition and entry and heated front seats. Oh, also, wiper defrosters. A thirteen speaker audio system let me listen to Pearl Jam’s new c/d the way it was meant to be heard. And the DVD system kept my son entertained as well as any playstation could. The absence of a third row seat could prove a deal breaker for some, however there is ample room in the back seat for three corn-feed East Texans to ride comfortably for hours. And there are even child seat tie downs. Sorry aunt Rita no more kids standing in the back.
The mileage is respectable, offering 21mpg in the city and almost 30 mpg on the highway.
But what won me over was the styling. I had guys asking all week what I was driving…guys that drive vettes, and trucks, and hot rods. When something looks good it just looks good even if it is a station wagon.
I urge you to visit your local Toyota showroom and give this ride a glance. It could forever change your opinion of your aunt.