Retrospective

The original Toyota Venza was a crossover ahead of its time

The Toyota Venza crossover was ahead of its time when it debuted in 2009.

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc.

You may see one heading down the street now and think to yourself, "Oh yeah, they made that." When the Toyota Venza debuted at the 2008 North American International Auto Show, it was ahead of its time. That was both its blessing ad its curse.

The Venza was based on the Toyota FT-SX Concept, which debuted at the 2005 iteration of the Detroit auto show three years earlier. The concept car had the telltale signs of a modern crossover. It featured an extended height body that rode slightly higher than a traditional wagon and a sloped back end gracefully ended at the hatchback.

2009 Toyota Venza The interior of the Toyota Venza was very much of its time.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc.

The project was the design child of Ian Cartabiano who had just come off a successful redesign of the third-generation 2005 Toyota Avalon. Today Cartabiano is the President at ED2 design center, Toyota Europe Design Development.

The concept and production model that followed were the same size as the Subaru Outback was in 2005. The 2020 Outback is around 10 inches longer than it was then.

First Generation (2009-2015)

The 2009 Toyota Venza was built on the Toyota Camry platform, giving the model its official crossover stance. Like the Camry, the Venza was a front-wheel drive model with available all-wheel drive.

Toyota gave the base model Venza a 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine. Buyers could upgrade to the available 3.5-liter V6. Both were paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. The four-cylinder achieved reasonable fuel economy for its time - an EPA-estimated 21 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway.

2013 Toyota Venza The original Toyota Venza was ahead of its time. It only lasted one generation and was refreshed in 2013. Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc.

Unlike other models in the Toyota lineup, the crossover was originally sold in just one trim level. Buyers could add to their model utilizing several packages and options. The list of standard features included fog lamps, 19-inch alloy wheels, satellite radio, a six-disc CD changer, dual-zone climate control, auto-dimming rearview mirror, an 8-way power-adjustable drivers seat, Hill Start Assist, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, and the Toyota Star Safety System suite of safety equipment and technology.

Options including automatic high beams, a power lift gate, leather upholstery, a panoramic moonroof, 13-speaker JBL sound system, Bluetooth, navigation, push button start, and rearview camera were available.

Toyota priced the 2009 model starting at $25,975. It topped out at $29,250. Those prices rose by about $200 per model year through the 2013 Venza mid-cycle refresh.

The 2013 Venza was a thoroughly modern vehicle. It got Toyota's Etune infotainment system that allowed smartphones to connect and interact with the display as well as hands-free Bluetooth phone calls and text functionality. Also, drivers could stream Pandora by linking the system with their phone.

Discontinuation

Citing slacking sales and changes in customer preferences, Toyota killed the model in the U.S. in 2015 and ended global production in 2017.

The New Venza

Rumors are rampant that Toyota is revving the Venza as a thoroughly modern crossover. It may just be one of the new models Toyota showed during a dealer meeting that was leaked. Stay tuned!

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Toyota's ready to make a big announcement.

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Corporation2

Auto Shanghai has another surprise in store. Toyota will debut an electrified vehicle next week and ahead of that moment, the company has leaked teaser photos and video featuring the model on its social media channels.

One of the posts, available on Twitter and Instagram, showcases the vehicle and a series of conceptual, perhaps inspirational, related items. A light shines as a reflection in an eye. A design on paper leads to a math equation. A laser, perhaps a plasma cutter, is focused on an object. Watch the see the rest.


It passes by quickly, but in there is the shape of a crossover. We've captured the moment in a still photo below so you can take a longer look. From the body design quickly shown here, the SUV is shaped more like the Toyota Venza than the Toyota RAV4. The key here is the rear side window, which is more triangular, like the Venza, than the squared-off RAV4''s.

202 The shape of the vehicle is similar to the Toyota Venza.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Corporation

2022 Toyota Venza EV

The face of the vehicle, shown in another social media post (this time on Instagram) and at the top of this article, shows a pared back vehicle face. The height of the vehicle confirms that it's in fact a crossover body style.

We do know that Subaru and Toyota have been working on an electric SUV for a while. While Subaru is likely calling the vehicle "Evoltis" there's some indication that Toyota may be reviving the "Celica" name for the EV. Batteries, after all, are made up of cells.

As of right now, we have to take the wait-and-see approach. One thing's for sure. We'll know more next week.

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The final versions of the McLaren 620R have been delivered to the U.S.

Photo courtesy of McLaren Automotive
McLaren recently shipped its last Sports Series cars to the U.S., marking the end of production of the popular models that have been staples of the luxury carmaker's lineup for the last half-decade. Over 8,500 cars were sold globally.

The Sports Series debuted in 2015 with the 570S, and also included the 540C, 570S Spider, 570GT, 600LT coupe, 600LT Spider, and 620R. The final examples of the series were built at the company's Woking, U.K. headquarters at the end of 2020. The 620R was the last off the line.

The McLaren 620R is a road legal version of a race car. It's based on the McLaren 570S GT4 and uses motorsport technology without the restriction of racing regulations. It is the most powerful Sports Series model ever, with a twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter V8 producing 611 brake horsepower and 457 pound-feet of torque.

Final examples of the McLaren 620R

Photo courtesy of McLaren Automotive

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The 620R shares aerodynamic hardware with the 570S GT4, creating 408-pounds of downforce at 155 mph. It can handle the road (and you can hear it coming) thanks to its wider track, carbon ceramic brakes and center locking wheels, and low-exit stainless steel sports exhaust.

"As the McLaren range has matured, we've tailored our North American model line-up to closely match customers' requirements, with a car suitable for every personality," explained Tony Joseph, President, McLaren, the Americas. "Limited-numbers models with the highest levels of performance – cars like the 620R, which feels like a race car on the street or at a track day - are in demand not only because of the driving experience they offer but because they have even greater exclusivity. You can see how this has played out with the 765LT as well, with all of the available volume sold."

Of the 225 examples of the 620R produced, only 70 were slated for the North American market. All North American 620R models come with a special MSO upgrade package that features a gloss finish Visual Carbon Fibre roof with a roof scoop to maximize engine intake and exhaust sound, MSO Defined gloss finish carbon fibre roof cantrails and the McLaren Track Telemetry system with lap time function and three cameras to record on-track performance.

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