The RAV4 is a keystone in Toyota’s lineup. Through three generations, it has been the entry level crossover vehicle for over one million families. In the last 10 years the small crossover segment has grown from virtually nothing to almost 20% of the new car market. Because it is a segment filled with many first time car owners, or the first new car people have purchased, it’s also a critical segment for building long term customer loyalty.
The acceleration in development in this segment has been very brisk and what looked new and fresh just two or three years ago, looks cheep and outdated today. In to this Toyota brings its fourth generation RAV4, looking to cement its place among the volume sales leaders in the segment.
Toyota says that they have sold 1.7 million RAV4’s since the model came to market in 1994 and that 80% of them are still on the road today. The compact SUV market has gone from just a few models in the early 90’s to now 45 different models today.
In many ways what Toyota is doing with the trim levels of the new RAV4, harkens back to the days of the mid 80’s when, there would be two or three trim levels and few options to choose from. The fourth generation RAV4 comes in three trim levels, LE, XLE and Limited.. Toyota’s philosophy was to bring trim levels to a spec where each model offers 90-95% of the options that customers tend to order. This philosophy gives RAV4 customers more bang for their buck when they go to purchase. For 2014, all RAV4 models will come with a 6.1” touch display as well as a backup camera, Bluetooth connectivity and projector beam headlights with auto off.
As you move up trim specs you will get ENTUNE with Navigation, 17” alloy wheels, (18” alloys are exclusive to the Limited model), power moon roof and dual zone climate control. Cloth is the material of choice for LE and XLE, with Soft-Tex being offered on the Limited models. Toyota describe Soft-Tex as, “leather, without the cost”. There are soft touch materials through the cabin in all trim levels, and some hard plastic materials in high touch point areas for controls like the window switches, and the gear shift.
The RAV4 comes standard as front wheel drive, with All Wheel Drive being an option. Toyota also note that 65% of RAV4 purchasers will choose the AWD option. New in the AWD models is active torque control, which works to put the power where it’s most needed, and aids in sharpening handling on dry pavement. Sensors in the system will direct power to the wheels to aid in turn-in for corners giving the RAV4 a sporty feeling when driven on twisty roads. It is still possible to lock the differentials in AWD mode for off road driving, or in snow or muddy terrains, and Toyota has now made this a maintenance-free system as well.
Also aiding in handling, the RAV4 is 1.2 inches lower than the out going model, though it still maintains a healthy 6.3 inches of ground clearance.
A big change for the new RAV4 is the elimination of the V6 as an option. Across the range there will be one engine choice, a 2.5 -iter four-cylinder producing 176 horsepower at 6,000 RPM and 172 ft/lb of torque at 4,100 RPM. While the peak power is higher in the engine range, Toyota is bringing the RAV4 into the modern age by dropping the previous models four-speed automatic gearbox for a standard for the class six-speed unit. With more gears spaced closer together, the RAV4 looses little in acceleration to the previous V6, yet sees considerably gains in fuel economy.
The 0-60 sprint takes 8.9 seconds and the EPA rating for the RAV4 is 24 city, 31 highway and 26 combined for front drive models, and 22/29/25 for AWD models.
Pricing for the 2013 RAV4 starts at $23,300 for the front-drive LE model, $24,290 for the XLE and $27,010 for the Limited, the AWD option adds a $1,400 premium. Toyota estimates that 45-50% of buyers will choose the XLE model, which will come with a moon roof, dual zone climate control and sports seats. There will be the option of Navigation with Entune for $1.030.
One of the trademarks of the RAV4 has been the spare tire carrier out back, and the swing open door to the rear cargo area. With the 2013 model, both of those are now gone. The spare tire is housed below the cargo floor and the rear hatch opens traditionally, and now with power assist and the ability to set an opening height for those that are short of stature or in areas with low overhead ceiling height. Not only does this aid in functionality, it also in rearward visibility.
Special attention was focused on making the cabin of the 2013 RAV4 much quieter. Acoustical glass was used for the windshield, and extra sound deadening materials were placed throughout the cabin. Driven back to back with the outgoing model there is a noticeable difference in wind and road noise that protrudes into the cabins of the two RAV4 generations.
While the new RAV4 lacks the fore and aft adjustments for the rear seats that the outgoing model had, the rear seat of the 2013 RAV4 has more leg room over the outgoing model, and the rear seats do recline for added passenger comfort. With the rear seats up, the cargo area has 38.4 square feet of cargo room and with the seats folded down it increases to 73.4.
The dashboard and the driver’s cockpit now look modern in the new RAV4. The use of soft touch materials and French stitching bring a new level of refinement. Going back and forth between the old and new RAV4’s lets you see just how much of a leap forward the new car is. Toyota is using what they call a “color block concept” in the interior, and it gives a strong bold look to the interior that refrains from being over the top.
Out on the road the new RAV4 is miles above the outgoing model in every way. The ride, handling, comfort, and NVH levels are noticeably better right off the bat. The new RAV4 has electric power steering for the first time. What buyers of RAV4 will notice is that below 10 miles an hour the steering is effortless, yet, picks up weight and feel as speed increases to give good feedback and confidence when going down the road.
Previous owners of the RAV4 will take note of is that there is no longer an option of third row seating. Toyota’s research deemed, that customers looking for seven passenger accommodations would be better served by stepping up to the larger Highlander. In making the RAV4 a five-passenger only configuration, they felt they could maximize space efficiency, passenger comfort and legroom.
With the 2013 model, the RAV4 is now competitive in its market segment. Some of its competitors may offer more space, and/or more power, however, it comes at price that is often times far north of the RAV4’s. What the RAV4 brings to the market is a solid product with exceptional value that stays true to what made it so popular, yet now, is competitive with its modern interior, amenities and numerious convenience features that buyers today expect.
At a quick glance, the Toyota RAV4 EV looks a lot like the gas-powered RAV4; however, upon closer inspection Toyota has done a lot to differentiate the two RAV4 models that serve very different purposes.
As noted in the video below, Toyota incorporated a more aerodynamic front-end design to the RAV4 EV, as well as power saving LED headlights and daytime running lights. Revisions extend to the rear end too, where unique taillights sit below an extended rear spoiler and next to a tailgate that forgoes the RAV4’s signature hatch mounted spare tire (the latter feature being available to the gas-powered RAV4 as well).
Design changes reach underneath the car too. Redesigned spats near the wheels, and a smooth underbody aid in vehicle aerodynamics.
Inside, the RAV4 EV gains a new gauge pack and center console controls that reflect the high-level of technology the car packs. Watch the video below to see these new features in action on the Toyota RAV4 EV.
Living with an electric vehicle doesn’t mean having to live with compromise. To assist owners of the new RAV4 EV, Toyota has designed its Entune app to specifically accommodate their needs.
From the vehicles multimedia system owners can access Entune’s variety of apps, one of which is a list of the nearest charging locations. Owners can also set the time their RAV4 EV will begin charging if leaving it on a charger for an extended period of time. This feature can save RAV4 EV owners money as charging during off-peak hours is often less expensive.
Other interesting features include the ability to set a “pre-climate” mode from the owner’s smart phone. Selecting this mode engages the vehicle’s air-conditioning system before the driver arrives at the vehicle so that the RAV4 EV’s interior temperature is already set to his or her preferences. But don’t take it from us, watch the video below to see the RAV4 EV’s Entune features in action:
by Zach McDonald — hybridcars.com
It’s been a little more than two years since Toyota and Tesla shocked the automotive world by announcing their intention to work together on electric vehicles. At the time, the nature and extent of that cooperation were unclear, but just months later we learned that the two companies were hard at work adapting Toyota‘s RAV4 crossover into an EV.
This won’t be the first Toyota RAV4 EV to hit the market, though it will be completely technologically distinct from its predecessor. Released in 1999, the original RAV4 EV is still beloved (and driven) to this day by hundreds of passionate owners. This time around though, the RAV4 plug-in will carry a lithium ion battery pack and strong reminders of Tesla’s DNA.
Toyota has been famously reluctant to build fully-electric vehicles, due mostly to the carmaker’s unease about expensive, limited-range cars that won’t take you 100 miles in between charges. Surprisingly, Tesla feels largely the same way: the most affordable version of its Model S carries a range of 160 miles at highway speeds, more than twice the range of cars like the Nissan LEAF and Ford Focus EV.
In a pair of videos recently released by Toyota, engineers from the project tell the story of how the two carmakers came together to build one of the most intriguing vehicles to come along in years.
Both companies played to their own strengths. Tesla took the lead in providing the car’s electric drivetrain and 41.8 kilowatt-hour battery, capable of at least 100 miles of range (though a recent New York Times review found the SUV easily exceeds that number.)
Toyota was responsible for applying its renowned regenerative breaking technology, which is balanced with the Tesla drive architecture to provide an efficient, responsive ride. Modifying the body and undercarriage of the car to ensure optimal aerodynamics were another challenge, since any drag can greatly diminish an electric vehicle’s range. The RAV4 was given an enhanced spoiler, redesigned front fascia and covered underbody to achieve a coefficient of drag of around 0.3 (about 25 percent better than a standard RAV4.)
Together, Toyota and Tesla have constructed the first lithium ion-powered electric SUV on the market. Though initial production will be limited to just 2600 vehicles, demand for the car should be strong given its unique blend of attributes. If response to the first RAV4 EV is any indication, expect a chorus of calls for Toyota to build more.
by Zach McDonald – HybridCars.com
For the first time ever, a hybrid has won the grueling 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race, which took place last weekend at the famed Circuit de la Sarthe in Le Mans, France. A pair of Audi R18 E-Tron Quattro cars finished in first and second place, and two diesel-powered Audi R18s finished third and fifth.
To win at Le Mans requires a rare mix of speed, handling and fuel economy, making it an ideal stage for hybrids to break into premier motorsports. For more than a decade, Audi has dominated the race- winning 11 of the last 13 contests-and the last six of those wins have come with the help of the carmaker’s diesel TDI technology. But this year, for the first time, the rules were changed to allow hybrids to compete for the top prize, which opened the door for Toyota to bring its market-leading gas-electric technology to the race, with a chance to break Audi’s iron grip on the event.
This weekend marked the first time the Toyota TS030 hybrid had ever competed in an event, and the car had only been testing on the track for five months prior to the Le Mans event. Toyota publicly downplayed its ambitions for 2012, saying it did not expect to win right away. Still, with hybrids expected to carry the day under the new rules changes and Toyota such dominant force in the consumer gas-electric market, some had hoped that the team might be able to at least give Audi a run for its money in this year’s race.
But the two Toyota hybrids were met with some bad fortune early on, with one of the TS030s having to be towed following a severe accident and the other falling back from the front of the pack after damage sustained during a brush with another car. Neither car was able to finish the race.
Still, the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans will go down as an important day for green motorsports. Not only did two diesel hybrids carry the day, but the field included multiple hybrid entrants that were in contention at various points in the race. Indeed, it would seem after this year’s race that entering a hybrid drivetrain is more than just a good public relations move at Le Mans-it may very well be a requirement for having any chance at winning the race.
Audi claimed a podium shutout at the 24 Hours of Le Mans this weekend with Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer, and Marcel Fassler notching their second consecutive victory at the wheel of the all-new diesel-hybrid R18 e-tron quattro.
“We arrived feeling very prepared and sure of ourselves thanks to our winning result last year,” said Treluyer. “With Marcel and André, we make up a solid and united team so we want to fight for one another and for Audi. The hybrid project just served to motivate us even further. And having won a race like Les 24 Heures du Mans for the first time with a hybrid car is fantastic, it is a moment that will go down in history so we are feeling quite proud.”
Last year’s winners prevailed after a close battle with sister car driven by Allan McNish, Tom Kristensen and Rinaldo Capello. It looked to be a fight to the flag until McNish crashed when he encountered at GTE-class Ferrari in the early 23rd hour. The McNish car lost a couple of laps due to repairs and ended up in second place at the finish, while the first of the non-hybrid R18 ultras, shared by Mike Rockenfeller, Oliver Jarvis and Marco Bonanomi, completed the all-Audi podium.
Audi was a clear favorite as it entered the French event to score its 11th victory in 13 starts. Peugeot, which had interfered with Audi’s run of success by winning in the 2009 race, had pulled out. And although Toyota had entered two of its new TS030 petrol-hybrid prototypes, the Japanese manufacturer was not expected to be a serious contender with its still-developing machines.
However, the Toyotas demonstrated a surprising turn of pace in both qualifying and during the race. Although Audi led from the start, the two Toyotas – one driven by Anthony Davidson, Sebastien Buemi, and Stephane Sarrazin, and the other by Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre and Kazuki Nakajima – remained in contention during the early hours.
But the Japanese challenge was seriously cut short when Davidson’s car was hit by an errant backmarker at the flat-out Mulsanne Corner. The Toyota got airborne, before crashing heavily back onto the asphalt and slamming into the tire barrier. Davidson was rushed to hospital and ended up with two broken vertebrae while the car was destroyed. The second Toyota remained in touch with the leading Audis until Nakajima, trying to make up ground shortly after a safety car period, struck the experimental Nissan DeltaWing. This forced the Toyota into the pits for time-consuming repairs.
The prospect of an Audi top-four shut-out was thwarted by Rebellion Racing Lola-Toyota piloted by Nicolas Prost, Nick Heidfeld and Neel Jani, who finished a lap ahead of the second R18 Ultra of Marc Dumas, Loic Duval and Romain Dumas.
Toyota has announced the development of a new vehicle-to-grid-like setup capable of sharing power between plug-in vehicles like the Prius Plug-in or RAV4 EV, and a home. The vehicle-to-home system (or V2H as the carmaker is calling it,) can cycle energy from an EV or PHEV into the home during periods of outage or to balance out the power load during peak hours of energy usage. The system will begin testing in ten Japanese households by the end of the year.
Toyota says the technology is being developed as part of the “ToyotaCity Low-Carbon Verification Project” it started two years ago, partnering the carmaker with 19 other companies in an effort to help households and cities optimize their energy management, with the overall goal of reduced CO2 emissions. Vehicle-to-home and other energy-balancing systems require a means to build up and store energy during times of lower usage so that it can be used later, when there is more demand and utilities tend to charge more for power. Plug-in vehicle batteries have long been identified as potential sites for this kind of energy storage, and in recent years a wide array of carmakers and charging station manufacturers have announced plans to develop such systems.
In addition to helping utilities avoid strain on the grid (and the environment,) V2H benefits electric vehicle owners in several ways. Most attractively, it helps to lower overall utility costs by diverting peak usage to off-peak hours, when electricity is cheaper. Those savings can help to offset the added cost of an electric vehicle battery pack by providing multiple uses for the pack. During emergency situations or when power is scarce or unavailable, V2H can also allow a plug-in owner to power his or her home for anywhere from a few hours to a few days depending upon the kind of vehicle.
Plug-in hybrids like the Prius Plug-in are particularly useful in this situation, because their engines can act as generators, converting gasoline to much-needed electricity. According to Toyota, a fully charged Prius Plug-in with a full tank of gas can power the average Japanese home for up to 4 days.
by: Zack McDonald – HybridCars.com
Toyota says it has plans to begin manufacturing the Prius in the United States for the first time. Last year, the carmaker recorded its 1 millionth Prius sale in the U.S., and despite supply shortfalls in the aftermath of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, sold more than 136,000 Prii here for the full year. By 2015, the company expects annual North American Prius sales to reach 200,000 units, with total North American hybrid sales projected to hit 400,000 vehicles by that time.
Toyota executive, Koei Saga, told Auto News this week that the carmaker is currently scouting potential North American suppliers. “We are targeting 2015,” said Saga. “Around then we will probably introduce the next-generation Prius, so we are trying our hardest to realize local production of hybrid units then.”
The shift will hopefully spell the end of the dreaded Prius waiting list for American customers, a phenomenon that has been present during all the more major recent oil spikes in the U.S. Being able to meet demand when it is at its highest is one of the main reasons that Toyota started talking about adding production flexibility to the Prius line last year. Another reason is an overall desire on the part of the company to avoid the major losses suffered across the Japanese auto industry as a result of last year’s earthquake, which caused the carmaker to report its first quarterly loss in more than two years, and sent executives searching for ways to diversify their supply chains.
It’s been a long time since the Prius was a niche vehicle spotted mainly in California’s more liberal enclaves, and Toyota can no longer afford to lose potential sales to competing hybrids during production shortfalls. With the expansion of the platform to include not only the standard Prius but also the larger Prius v, the compact Prius c, and the Prius Plug-in, Toyota plans to make the Prius the best-selling vehicle platform in the world in the coming years.
Saga also told Auto News that Toyota plans to stick with nickel metal hydride batteries for the next generation Prius, despite moves by competitors to switch their hybrids to lithium ion. Still, the company says it could begin lithium ion battery production here in the United States to supply the Prius Plug-in and eventually other plug-in vehicle offerings.
The Sensational New 2013 Toyota Avalon Makes World Debut at the 2012 New York International Auto Show
Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. revealed the all-new 2013 Avalon premium mid-size sedan today at the 2012 New York International Auto Show. The new Avalon is re-conceived for the premium mid-size sedan segment with a progressive and emotionally styled exterior design.
When it arrives to dealerships late this year, the new Avalon will offer improved dynamic performance, a greater degree of refinement, and a highly spacious, comfortable interior experience with an abundance of outstanding convenience technologies.
The new 2013 Avalon is the result of a North American-focused design and engineering effort. The new sedan’s dramatic exterior and interior design was conceived by a youthful and talented team at the Calty Design Research Inc. facilities in Southern California and Michigan. The car’s engineering development was principally led by a passionate and dedicated group based at Toyota Technical Center in Ann Arbor, Mich. Continuing a North American focused theme, the 2013 Avalon will be assembled at Toyota’s facility in Georgetown, Ky. True to the future product mission set forth by Toyota Motor Corporation President, Akio Toyoda, the new Avalon’s more stylish, bold, sporty exterior design and luxurious interior styling are matched by an enhanced dynamic package, a combination that foreshadows the more compelling and passionate nature of future Toyota products.
Enhanced Avalon Dynamics
In addition to its stunning design, numerous structural and chassis improvements were made to the new Avalon to enhance the ride quality, straight-line stability and handling. The body structure gains improvements in torsional rigidity thanks to additional and strategically placed welds, improved body bracing, and high-strength steel in key areas in order to provide a stiffer chassis and optimize suspension performance. The new Avalon suspension relies on MacPherson struts with advanced valving and rebound springs to balance handling and agility with ride comfort. Coil spring rate and front and rear sway bar stiffness was increased from the current model to help improve body control and body roll. The Avalon’s electric power steering (EPS) system has been tuned to help deliver enhanced controllability and vehicle agility while also realizing superior linear stability.
The new Avalon offers three distinct drive modes that help tailor dynamic performance to the driver’s needs. The drive modes – Normal, Eco, and Sport -are made available through driver-selectable switches. In Sport mode, throttle response is enhanced and steering effort is weighted from center to offer a sportier character. Eco changes throttle response and A/C power usage to help improve fuel economy. Steering-wheel mounted paddle shifters help provide a sportier drive while in the D or S Mode, where the revised throttle helps improve shift response to help maximize engine power and vehicle performance.
Dynamic Exterior Styling
The new Avalon’s dynamic exterior styling defines a sleek and expressive profile that helps communicate a sense of motion for the vehicle even when it is at rest. The beltline has been lowered to accentuate a strong stance. Compared to its predecessor, the new Avalon is a bit more compact yet displays better proportions with a longer, sloping roofline, flared front fenders, and reduced front and rear overhangs, lower vehicle height, and reduced body-to-tire gap. New 17-inch and 18-inch alloy wheel and tire combinations fill the wheel well to enhance the vehicle’s dynamic exterior expression.
￼Key exterior design elements include the square Double-eye PES (Projector Ellipsoid System) headlamps with HID (High-Intensity Discharge)and elegant DRL (Daytime Running Lights) feature available that provide excellent night time visibility while helping define a narrower, more taut and muscular exterior expression. A wider, more assertive grille design provides a bolder front perspective. At the rear, high-performance LED combination tail lamps are adopted which are more integrated with the revised rear-body styling. The dual rear tailpipe outlets further the more cohesive design theme.
Modern Interior Experience
Design elements enhancing comfort, convenience and technology help create the luxurious experience that will prove tempting to buyers of the next Avalon. The 2013 Avalon offers a modern, spacious, premium interior highlighted by abundant rear seat legroom, while featuring a myriad of available features. Beyond mere dimensions, the new Avalon’s interior design enhances the cabin’s sense of spaciousness and comfort. The front seat’s hip point has been lowered by 10 millimeters (0.4 inches) to help create improved headroom. The new power front seat design with increased side bolstering is more supportive and offers an expanded range of downward adjustment. In addition, the structural components of the sunroof and the headliner design have been optimized to help increase the cabin’s roominess. A concave dash panel design, located in front of the passenger, helps create an expansive feeling. While the rear overhang has been reduced by 1.7 inches, the luggage compartment capacity is 16.0 cubic feet, an increase of 1.6 cubic feet as compared to the outgoing model.
The Avalon’s premium interior attains a high level of refinement by reducing wind, engine and road noise inside the cabin. The resultant interior is even significantly quieter and more comfortable than the current Avalon and it creates an ideal environment to enjoy conversation, music or Toyota’s available multimedia system, EntuneTM. Sound absorbing materials have been strategically placed around the cabin and body structure while not inhibiting a reduction in overall vehicle weight. The windshield and front side-glass panels utilize acoustic glass that helps control sound intrusion into the cabin. Reductions in wind noise have been realized by optimizing exterior shape, specifically cowl and louver sealing, outer mirror shape and position, and wiper-blade position, which have all been developed to dramatically reduce wind noise generation. Exterior gaps and steps have also been minimized to reduce wind noise around the door glass areas.
The new Avalon’s interior utilizes premium materials and a high degree of craftsmanship to offer an upscale experience. Rich, supple leather trims the steering wheel, shift knob, and seat upholstery helping add visual and tactile appeal. Hand-crafted, decorative stitching is adopted for the steering wheel, and soft-touch materials on the dash panel and door trim elevate the vehicle’s sense of tactile luxury. Smoked chrome-metallic accents are applied to the instrument panel, center console, door panel, and steering wheel surfaces to help add distinction and exceptional feel. Available push-button controlled soft white ambient lighting illuminates key regions of the interior to help convey the sense of luxury. The new Avalon’s center console includes a convenient console tray that is ideal for the storage of electronic hand held devices. The new Avalon’s console area is equipped with a USB port, AUX input terminal and three 12-volt power outlets to help facilitate device interface and charging.
The new Avalon will offer innovative technologies such as advanced capacitive touch switches with positioning and sensitivity that makes them ideal for vehicle system controls. Other premium in-car technologies include three color display screens that support the multi-information display, the audio/navigation interface, and the climate control panel. An easy to use Display Audio system with 6.1 inch touchscreen is standard on the new Avalon; while a JBL Synthesis Premium Audio system, HDD Premium Navigation with 7” screen, dynamic radar cruise control, heated and cooled front
seats, heated rear seats, and a three-zone air conditioning system are also on the list of available features and equipment.
Like all Toyota models, the new Avalon will feature Toyota’s Star Safety SystemTM standard, which includes Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRAC), Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist, and Smart Stop Technology brake-override system.
The new Avalon helps to prioritize occupant safety with a best-in-class10 airbags system. A Pre-collision system is also available that is designed to “sense” an impending frontal collision and can help mitigate damage. A variable ratio brake pedal is adopted that varies the initial and final pedal effort ratios to help realize excellent brake pedal feel.
In addition to a rearview monitor, Avalon offers an available Blind Spot Monitoring system which is designed to help detect vehicles behind the outer mirrors and to help alert drivers in addition to a new Rear Cross Traffic Alert system (RCTA) that can alert drivers of cross traffic when they are backing up.
The Toyota Venza crossover now offers enhanced exterior styling, added value through several new standard convenience features and updated option packages that include the Entune™ multi-media system for 2013 model year.
Venza’s aerodynamic shape has been tastefully modified with a new upper and lower grille, fog lamps and rear taillights. The updated styling is complemented by a new 19-inch wheel design and three new exterior colors: Attitude Black, Cypress Pearl, and Cosmic Gray Mica.
The 2013 Venza is available in LE, XLE and Limited grades. The LE and XLE models are available with all powertrain combinations: four-cylinder, V6, front-wheel drive (FWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD); the Venza Limited is powered by the V6 engine only, in front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive configurations. Value has been enhanced and ordering simplified with the addition of many standard features in all three grades.
Venza was developed specifically for the North American market, appealing to customers who prioritize bold, innovative design, a luxurious and refined interior and excellent handling, but they still require roominess and versatility. Venza provides SUV flexibility with its fold-flat rear seats, spacious cargo area, elevated driver sightline, available AWD and up to 3,500-lbs. towing capacity.
The Venza design was the creation of Toyota’s Calty Design studios in Newport Beach, Calif. and Ann Arbor, Mich. Calty designers leaned toward a sleek crossover concept with a wide stance that featured a sporty exterior, but they also included important SUV attributes, such as cargo space, towing capability and available all-wheel drive performance.
Venza was primarily engineered at Toyota Technical Center in Ann Arbor, Mich. And It is assembled at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky (TMMK), in Georgetown, Ky. More than 70 percent of Venza’s components come from North American suppliers.
Performance and Efficiency
The 2013 Venza offers four-cylinder and V6 models in FWD and AWD versions. Venza’s 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine delivers 181 horsepower at 5,800 rpm and 182 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,200 rpm. The four-cylinder Venza is EPA-rated at 21 MPG city/27 MPG highway for the FWD model and 20/25 for the AWD.
The 3.5-liter V6 produces 268 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 246 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,700 rpm. The V6 FWD model has EPA-estimated fuel economy ratings of 19 MPG city/26 MPG highway and 18/25 for the AWD. Both engines are teamed with a six-speed sequential-shift electronically controlled automatic transmission with intelligence (ECT-i). The six-speed ECT-i provides an engaging driving experience and helps optimize fuel economy. Uphill/downhill shift logic selects the proper gear for driving conditions and helps provide moderate engine braking during downhill driving.
Venza’s Active Torque Control AWD System optimizes torque distribution between the front and rear wheels to help ensure stable acceleration and smooth cornering on all road surfaces. AWD offers enhanced traction and helps provide excellent overall handling in inclement weather.
An available Towing Prep Package on V6 models equips Venza with an engine oil cooler, larger radiator fan and heavy-duty alternator.
Handling and Ride
Venza was designed with a lower center of gravity than typical SUVs to help provide dynamic handling, which is further enhanced by the large wheels and tires. The four-cylinder models ride on standard 19-inch, 10-spoke aluminum alloy wheels. Distinctive 20-inch five-spoke aluminum alloy wheels are standard for the V6 model. Power-assisted, ventilated front and solid rear disc brakes are standard on all models.
Venza’s body structure relies on high tensile-strength steel, gussets and cross members for its strength, rigidity and optimized weight. Front suspension consists of a rigid L-arm-type MacPherson strut with a stabilizer bar, and the rear suspension is a dual-link MacPherson strut setup with stabilizer bar. Electric power steering (EPS), with its ideally weighted steering effort, contributes to the Venza’s spirited driving dynamics. EPS helps provide a more direct steering feel at both high and low speeds and delivers just-right assist when maneuvering the vehicle into tight parking spaces.
Toyota’s STAR Safety System is standard on all Toyota models and features enhanced Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRAC) Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist and the Smart Stop Technology (SST).
VSC automatically adjusts engine output and the vehicle’s braking force at each wheel to help control loss of traction during cornering. TRAC helps maintain traction during challenging driving conditions. Brake Assist is designed to determine if the driver is attempting emergency braking. If the driver has not stepped firmly enough on the brake pedal to engage ABS, Brake Assist supplements the applied braking power until the driver releases the pedal. Smart Stop offers an additional level of safety by automatically reducing engine power when a vehicle’s brake and accelerator pedals are applied simultaneously under certain driving conditions, helping to bring the vehicle to a controlled stop. Hill-start Assist Control (HAC), also standard on all Venza models, temporarily provides pressure to the brakes while the vehicle is stopped on an incline to help ensure easier starting with no rollback.
In addition, Venza provides seven airbags, including a driver’s knee airbag, driver and front-passenger front-seat-mounted side airbags, and front and rear side-curtain airbags. Front seat-belt pretensioners retract the seat belt in a severe frontal collision, while the dual-stage force limiters help limit the seat-belt force applied to the driver’s and front passenger’s chests.
Driver and front-passenger seats employ active headrests. If the vehicle is struck from the rear, a cable-actuated mechanism will move the headrest upward and forward to help limit movement of the occupant’s head.
Comfort and Convenience
Venza’s generous utility includes several clever storage locations and lighting. The adjustable center console features a sliding cover and armrest, three iPod®/MP3 player holders with wire concealment features, and a large storage compartment.
The center-console compartment is also equipped with a USB port, auxiliary audio jack and 12-volt power outlet. The upper portion of the center console houses the gearshift lever for easy and comfortable driver reach. An on/off switch on the overhead console enables front-seat occupants to operate all four personal overhead interior lights.
Interior storage is further complemented by a total of 10 front and rear beverage holders (six bottle holders and four cup holders). These include dual-illuminated, sliding front cup-holders in the center console, two in the rear-seat armrest, and front- and back-door bottle holders.
Entune Multi-Media System
The 2013 Venza now offers the Toyota Entune multimedia system. This system leverages the mobile smartphone to provide a richer in-vehicle experience with fully integrated access to navigation, entertainment and information services.
Toyota Entune supports engaging mobile apps, such as Bing, OpenTable, and movietickets.com, along with accessing useful travel-related services, such as live weather, traffic, fuel information (location and price), stocks, and sports. Toyota Entune has a large selection of music options available to a vehicle, including iHeartRadio’s 750+ stations, and Pandora’s personalized music service.
The audio systems combined with Entune feature a best-in-class, advanced conversational voice recognition system that helps the driver to stay focused by eliminating the need to memorize thousands of voice commands.
An Abundance of Standard Features
The Venza LE grade comes well equipped with new standard features that include a blind spot mirror and outer mirror turn signals with puddle lamps. Additional key standard features include dual-zone automatic climate control with air filter and second-row-seat vents; eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with power lumbar; 3.5-inch LCD multi-information display; a tilt/telescopic adjustable steering wheel with integrated audio controls; an overhead console with map lights; rear-seat adjustable personal reading lamps and three 12-volt power outlets.
The LE also comes standard with the Display Audio system, which includes a 6.1-inch touch screen, AM/FM CD player with MP3/WMA playback capability, six speakers, auxiliary audio jack, USB port with iPod® connectivity and control, vehicle information, hands-free phone capability, phone book access and music streaming via Bluetooth® wireless technology.
The available Convenience Package for the Venza LE adds a power liftgate and a rear back-up camera. The Preferred Package adds a panoramic glass roof with front power moonroof and Display Audio with Navigation and Entune.
The Venza XLE provides a major luxury and convenience upgrade to the vehicle and adds standard features such as leather-trimmed seating surfaces, steering wheel and shift knob; four-way power passenger seat; multi-stage heated front seats; driver seat memory; reverse tilt outer mirrors, Display Audio with Navigation and Entune; anti-theft system with alarm and engine immobilizer; Smart Key System with Push Button Start and illuminated entry; power rear liftgate and a back-up camera. Also standard on the XLE is a TFT multi-information display that can be customized to adjust the font size and content, and navigation voice instructions available in Spanish, French or English (XM Traffic is only available in English).
Aside from powertrain choices, the XLE offers one major option the Premium Package, which includes a panoramic glass roof with front power moonroof, and Display Audio with Navigation , Entune and JBL®, that includes 6.1-inch Touch Screen, AM/FM CD Player with MP3/WMA Playback Capability, 13 JBL® Synthesis Speakers including Subwoofer, SiriusXM™ Satellite Radio (Includes three-month trial subscription to XM Select Package), HD Radio™ withiTunes® Tagging, Auxiliary Audio Jack, USB Port with iPod® Connectivity and Control, Vehicle Information, Hands-Free Phone Capability, Phonebook Access, Advanced Voice Recognition, and Music Streaming Via Bluetooth® Wireless Technology.
The V6-only, top-of-line Venza Limited comes standard with the Premium HDD Navigation with Entune™ and JBL® multimedia system. The system features a seven-inch high resolution touch screen with split-screen capability, AM/FM CD Player with MP3/WMA Playback Capability, 13 JBL® Synthesis™ Speakers including Subwoofer, SiriusXM™ Satellite Radio capability (Includes three-month trial subscription to XM Select Package); HD Radio™ with iTunes® Tagging, Auxiliary Audio Jack, USB Port with iPod® Connectivity and Control, Vehicle Information, Hands-Free Phone Capability, Phonebook Access, Advanced Voice Recognition, and Music Streaming Via Bluetooth® Wireless Technology.
The Venza Limited combines the Premium HDD Navigation with Entune and JBL and the panoramic glass roof with front power moonroof, and it adds high-intensity discharge (HID) headlights with automatic high beams and LED Daytime Running Lights. The high-beam feature detects oncoming vehicles and automatically switches the headlamps from high- to low-beam.
Customers looking for a pet-friendly vehicle will find a wide range of pet utility accessories available at Toyota dealerships. Among the available choices are a rear liftgate pet ramp, booster seat with harness, pet buckles and rear seat zipline-style harnesses, pet carriers and bucket seat, bench seat and hammock style waterproof seat covers.
The Venza sports an aerodynamic shape with short overhangs, forward A-pillar, crisp character lines, and a low roofline. Continuous brushstroke lines run from the front grille to the D-pillar. A bold front end features a distinctive grille, headlights and fog lamps for a sporty yet refined appearance. Venza’s sophisticated and confident appearance is completed by an angled rear hatch, spoiler and wide wraparound taillights that interconnect with the hatch door. Tight tire-to-body gaps contribute to the sophisticated, refined appearance.
The Venza design is highly practical, with a rear load-in height that is almost as low as that of the Sienna minivan. The generously sized liftgate opening enhances the vehicle’s utility. An available power liftgate integrates jam protection that detects obstruction in the door’s path and reverses the motor. Venza provides a low step-over height for improved ergonomics, and because the closed doors cover the rocker panels, the driver and passengers are protected from accumulated road-dust while getting into and out of the vehicle.
The Venza interior is designed to enhance driving enjoyment and offer premium comfort. Venza is available in three interior colors: Ivory, Light Gray, and Black, which is new for 2013. Each color is offered in fabric on LE and leather on XLE and Limited.
The flow of the center console creates a unique “60/60” design that gives both the driver and front passenger the feeling that 60 percent of the space is accessible from their seating position. All grades have a standard Optitron® speedometer and tachometer. The XLE and Limited grades also include a TFT multi-color center instrument panel display. Dual-zone automatic climate system controls are centrally located on the upper console, providing easy access for both the driver and front passenger.
Personal space lends overall comfort to the vehicle’s interior with ample head room, shoulder room, hip room and couple distance. Cargo-area utility is enhanced with fold-down 60/40 rear seats, one-touch fold-down seat levers and a tonneau cover.
Toyota’s 36-month/36,000 mile basic new-vehicle warranty applies to all components other than normal wear and maintenance items. Additional 60-month warranties cover powertrain for 60,000 miles and corrosion with no mileage limitation. Toyota dealers have complete details on the limited warranty.
The Venza will also come standard with Toyota Care, a complimentary plan covering normal factory-scheduled maintenance and 24-hour roadside assistance for two years or 25,000 miles, whichever comes first.