When Toyota brought the then-new Venza to last year's New England Auto Show, I gave it the "ho-hum, another cookie-cutter crossover" treatment. Two events made me reconsider.
The Venza's low entry height made it a snap for Vixie, a 2-year-old German Shepherd, to jump into and out of the car. Vixie's owners, raving about the comfortable driving position, "just-right" suspension, and decent (mid-20s) gas mileage, packed their new Venza for a three-week odyssey up the East Coast. With the second-row of seats folded, I watched with amazement as a succession of coolers, suitcases, and other containers were packed away for the return trip.
When I drove a Venza along a dark stretch, I encountered an oncoming car. Just as I reached for the high-beam switch, the lights dimmed automatically - the Venza's auto high-beam control at work.
Call it a keeper.