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 VenzaThe 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 VenzaThe 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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New minivan

Honda announces new Odyssey Sport

Sport is a new trim for the Odyssey minivan.

Honda

The Honda Odyssey may not be the most exciting vehicle in the world, but it's getting a new Sport model that at least makes it look the part. Honda will release the model for the 2023 model year, and the Odyssey line overall will be offered with a new Honda Service Pass, which includes two years of complimentary scheduled maintenance.

The Odyssey Sport slots into the Honda catalog between the EX-L and Touring trims. It comes with gloss-black exterior trim and black 19-inch wheels outside, and black leather with red stitching inside. The cabin comes with red accent lighting on the dash and in the footwells, and the roof pillars and headliner are both black. Under the hood, the Odyssey Sport gets the same 3.5-liter V6 from years past. It makes 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque, and comes paired with a ten=speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive.

2023 Honda Odyssey SportThe Sport comes with dark exterior trim and unique leather upholstery with red stitching inside. Honda

All Odyssey models come with Honda Sensing safety equipment, which includes adaptive cruise control and pedestrian detection. The 2023 van hasn't been crash-tested yet, but the 2022 model earned a Top Safety Pick + award, so it's likely the new model will be rated similarly.

Honda Service Pass is a new program for 2023+ Honda vehicles. It covers routine scheduled maintenance for up to two years or 24,000 miles, whichever comes first. Under the program, buyers get free oil changes, tire rotations, and multi-point inspections.

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The Supra finally gets a manual transmission for 2023.

Toyota

After an almost nonstop chorus of enthusiasts and journalists asking for a manual transmission in the new Supra, Toyota has gone and done it. The car will get an available six-speed manual transmission that will be available on both variants of the GR Supra 3.0, plus a limited-edition model on the U.S. market next year.

2023 Toyota Supra 3.0 MTToyota had to modify the car's interior for the new gearbox. Toyota

The A91-MT Edition Supra will be limited to 500 units, and gets two exterior colors with an exclusive Cognac leather interior. All 2023 Supras come with a 3.0-liter straight-six engine that makes 382 horsepower and 367 pound-feet of torque. Toyota says the six-speed manual has been specially tuned to work with the car's engine, and notes that it modified an existing transmission housing to come up with the design. The gearbox's final drive ratio is shortened to improve response and take-off.

Toyota had to modify the car's interior to accommodate a gearshift lever, so the iDrive controller and other buttons had to be relocated. The automaker says that it focused on the feeling of shifting, from the weight of the knob to the ergonomics and location of the component.

2023 Toyota Supra 3.0 MTThe limited-edition A91-MT trim gets an exclusive cognac leather interior.Toyota

A Supra with a manual gearbox is reason to celebrate, but availability is limited to the top Supra 3.0. The "base" Supra 2.0 won't get the transmission. Toyota says pricing and other information will be available later this year.

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