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2009 Toyota Venza: Launching a New Segment

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Toyota unveiled the latest entry to its lineup of family vehicles at the North American International Auto Show, the 2009 Venza. Calling it a “crossover sedan,” Toyota hopes to launch a new segment with this vehicle that has luxury sedan features and performance combined with the utility of an SUV. Toyota claims that the Venza has the comfort of a Camry, the functionality of a 4Runner, and the luxury of an Avalon. Toyota hasn’t released pricing for the Venza yet, but if the Venza lives up to that claim upon its release near the end of this year, I’ll buy it!
The Venza was developed in North America exclusively for the North American market. Designed at Toyota’s Calty design studios in California and engineered at Toyota Technical Center in Michigan, the Venza will be assembled in Kentucky and sold only in North America.

For Young Couples with Small Families, Active Boomers, or Just About Anyone
A five-passenger vehicle, the Venza is targeted toward young couples with small families and active boomers. Its spacious interior nicely provides sufficient room for all passengers along with “SUV-like” cargo space behind the second row of seats. The 2nd row seats recline up to 14 degrees (a growing requirement for 2nd row passenger comfort and overall competitiveness). A low cargo height should allow for easy loading and unloading of cargo, and of course, the 60/40 split rear seats fold flat to provide additional storage space for those long items. The Venza’s low rocker design allows for easier ingress and egress than typical sedans, yet a higher ride height and hip points will provide better driver visibility.

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The Venza will be the first sedan with Toyota’s STAR safety system, which features anti-lock brakes, traction control, electronic brake-force distribution, brake assist, and vehicle stability control. Seven airbags, including a driver’s knee airbag, side and curtain airbags for both rows of seats are standard.
Releasing the Luxury Sedan Inside
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Comfort, convenience, and styling – all the makings of a fine luxury sedan. Toyota created the Venza instrument panel with a unique 60/60 design that gives both the driver and front passenger the perception that 60 percent of the IP is accessible from their seating position, enhancing the feeling of spaciousness for front seat occupants. Large illuminated center console storage, large enough to hold a large purse, is revealed beneath a sliding console cover and contains an auxiliary audio jack and 12-volt power outlet for concealing those chargers, electronics, and wire clutter. The center console also comes with an iPod/MP3 storage compartment, with wire management, and dual, illuminated cup holders. To further open up the area between driver and front passenger, the gear-shift level is located on the upper portion of the center console. An additional storage compartment with a 12-volt power point and enough space for maps and magazines can also be found on the passenger side of the front center console.
Proving itself a true five-passenger vehicle, Toyota will offer its first panoramic roof on the Venza. The roof will feature separate glass panels over the front and rear seats and the front panel will have a power tilt/slide function.
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Loaded with Technology
Standard features for the Venza include automatic dual-zone air conditioning, 6-disc CD, tilt/telescoping steering wheel with audio controls, electrochromic rearview mirror with compass, cruise control and privacy glass. As if that wasn’t enough, and it’s not, the Venza’s optional equipment includes a navigation system (equipped with JBL audio), integrated satellite radio capability, Bluetooth’ technology, rear seat entertainment system, a Smart Key System, back-up camera and power rear door. Whew!
Another Toyota first, the Venza will also offer an Automatic High beam headlight system, which, when high beam headlights are on, uses sensors to detect oncoming traffic and automatically switch the headlights to low beam.
Power, Towing Capability, AND 20″ Wheels
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The Venza will be Toyota’s first model to ride on standard 20″ alloy wheels (19″ with the 4-cylinder version) and will launch with a 3.5L, 268-hp, V6 engine that boasts a 6-speed sequential-shift electronically-controlled automatic transmission and 3500lb towing capability. A 2.7L 4-cylinder engine, mated with the same transmission, will be available a few months later for better fuel efficiency and lower emissions.

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