When it was introduced for the 2009 model year, many were surprised that staid, conservative Toyota could produce such a stylish crossover. Since its introduction, many other models have come out, so the Venza is no longer the head-turner it once was. But it remains a stylish option in the crowded crossover market, and Toyota's mid-cycle refresh for 2013 aims to keep it a fresh and relevant option for customers.
The biggest news for 2013 is the availability of Toyota's Entune multimedia and app integration suite as an option on all trim levels. In 2012, the Venza went from having a single trim level with a la carte options and packages, to following the rest of the Toyota lineup in offering LE, XLE and Limited trim levels. The other big news on the interior front is the availability of a black interior color, available with either cloth or leather upholstery on all trim levels.
The Entune system is paired with the optional navigation system, and is offered as an option on the LE as part of the Convenience Package, and on the XLE as part of the Premium Package. The top-of-the-line Venza Limited includes Entune as standard. Entune's suite of apps includes Bing search, OpenTable restaurant reservation service, movietickets.com, ClearChannel Communication's iHeartRadio digital radio streaming, and Pandora music streaming. All Venza trim levels include iPod connectivity and Bluetooth hands-free calling and music streaming. Satellite and HD Radio is available as part of the Premium Package on the XLE, and satellite HD Radio is standard on the Limited trim.
A teaser image released several weeks ago showed LED accent lighting as part of the 2013 Venza's headlight housing, and now we know that picture was of the Limited model, which is the only trim level to receive the high-tech bling. The Limited also includes an innovative automatic high-beam headlamp system that automatically detects oncoming cars, and shuts off the high beams until they pass.
Powertrain options carry over from the 2012 model, and include a base 182 hp 2.7-liter four-cylinder on the LE and XLE trims, with either front or all-wheel drive. The Venza Limited is offered exclusively with a 268 hp 3.5-liter V-6 with front or all-wheel drive. Both engines are mated exclusively to a six-speed automatic transmission. The V-6 is optional on the other two trim levels. Four-cylinder models feature 19-inch wheels, with V-6 models sporting 20-inchers.
None of these changes will rock the crossover world, but with the addition of Entune and some new trim options, the Venza will remain a compelling choice for those seeking a stylish midsize crossover.