Certain names resonate: Gaga, Kardashian, Hefner, Angelou, Bush and Clinton. Product names also resonate: Corolla, Camry, Avalon, 4Runner, Cressida and Celica.
If Venza, the name of the crossover produced by Toyota from 2008 through 2015, resonates at all, it’s not for the reason you suppose. Toyota officially insists that the name derives from a mash-up of the words “venture” and “Monza.” However, its name is almost identical to the Japanese word for toilet seat: benza. I’ve been told that Toyota’s Japanese executives always found the name amusing, telling their stateside colleagues while snickering that Americans drive toilet seats.
Yet we had the last laugh. The Venza was never the success company officials expected. So you have to wonder why Toyota is reviving that crappy old moniker for its first two-row crossover SUV sold solely with a gas-electric hybrid driveline and all-wheel drive, rather than using another old name.
No matter what you call it, the Venza, sold in ascending LE, XLE and Limited trim, is longer and slightly lower than the RAV4, and has a far more refined and sophisticated demeanor.
Walking around it, the Venza’s side sculpting is particularly well done, starting as a soft shoulder and sharpens into a crease the wraps around back where it anchors the rear window. At the same time, the side windows’ teardrop shape comes to a point, accentuating the sloping rear pillar that offsets the