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Toyota Venza vs Lexus RX 350

It's time to replace my wife's 2002 Audi wagon. Using Edmund's TMV, I gulped when I saw to replace it in kind would be almost $60K. They are great cars, but there are others. Plus, it is a little cramped up front on long trips.

Then I saw the NY Times review of the Venza. I took a look and a test drive, and it is a VERY nice car. We are empty nesters, so 5 seats is plenty and it will hold all the "stuff" when we go away.

I have friends with the RX 350 but haven't spent much time in one. According to TMV, it can be had for about 10% over a Venza (Our Toyota dealer is holding firm at MSRP right now).

So, if both were similarly equipped, which would you pick?

Thanks,

Jeff in TN
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Comments

  • macpromacpro Posts: 52
    I really love Lexus vehicles. My wife and I have owned several over the past 10 years. I looked at the RX350 before purchasing our Venza.

    The Venza has keyless entry, the 2009 RX does not. The 2010 does, but we didn't like the interior (in all fairness, only saw pictures). The Venza drives great, has plenty of room for us and our stuff. Also has 6th Gen Navigation.
  • qs933qs933 Posts: 302
    So, if both were similarly equipped, which would you pick?

    For me, I'm leaning towards the Venza.

    Even with the substantial discounts on the outgoing 2009 model (2010 is all new and arriving in February), the RX is still more expensive than the Venza for less features (that are important to me).

    It all depends on what's important to you, of course. The Lexus does have 1) a longer warranty; 2) potentially better dealer service/experience; 3) brand prestige; 4) a more "SUV" than "station wagon" appearance; 5) better interior materials (though the Venza is pretty close, in my opinion); 6) seat memory, power adjustable steering wheel; rain-sensing wipers.

    On the other hand, the Venza has 1) a new design that won't be replaced soon, so it will look "newer" longer; 2) 6-speed transmission; 3) Smart Key; 4) back up camera and Bluetooth without Navigation; 5) 20" wheels vs. 18" on the RX; 5) aux-in jack.

    Once supply improves, your Toyota dealer will be more willing to deal on the Venza. In my area, I can get a Venza at around $900 above invoice.
  • My recommendation is to just drive them back-to-back and select the one that you like best. And don't forget to include other similar vehicles in your testing. Have you looked at the newest 2009 Audi A4 Avant? It's a bit larger than previous models (still smaller than the RX and Venza) and is priced in upper $30s to mid-$40K range. That said, I like the Venza over the RX: The Venza is new, while the RX is a 7 year old design, being refreshed with the 2010 model due out next month. Both are reliable, so the different warranty should not be much of a factor. The special Lexus treatments (loaner cars, service waiting lounges) are nice, but they come at a cost (I've owned 4 Lexuses and never took full advantage of the service comforts because the cars never really broke down). And remember - it's just a car. Try it for a few years and if you don't like it, trade it in for something different - the car won't be upset.
  • bodble2bodble2 Posts: 4,519
    I'm a little peeved, and surprised, that the Venza does not have fully-automatic headlights. :(
  • qs933qs933 Posts: 302
    I'm a little peeved, and surprised, that the Venza does not have fully-automatic headlights.

    I could've sworn that the Venza I test drove had an "auto" setting on the headlamp stalk. It might be a part of the HID option package.
  • bodble2bodble2 Posts: 4,519
    The Venza does have automatic high-beam headlights, so maybe the setting was for that? Mind you, I have not check one out in the flesh, but the info on the Toyota website did not list fully-automatic headlights, only headlight cancellation system, which means auto-off only.
  • macpromacpro Posts: 52
    The headlights on the Venza have an Auto setting.

    Page 202 of the Owners Manual: AUTO MODE: The headlights and all lights listed above turn ON and OFF automatically.

    Note: lights listed above are: Side Marker, parking, tail, license plate, and instrument panel lights.

    When in Auto Mode, push the lever forward to turn on the high beams. The Automatic High Beam system will be activated.
  • bodble2bodble2 Posts: 4,519
    According to the Quick Reference Guide, it appears the Auto setting only activates the automatic high beam.

    http://qrg.toyotapartsandservice.com/index.php?vehicle=Venza&year=2009

    But I suppose the actual Owner's Manual should be more detailed. In any case, it would seem logical that the Venza would have fully automatic headlights since even the RAV4 has it.
  • macpromacpro Posts: 52
    I agree, the Quick Reference Guide is a little vague, but I can confirm when you select AUTO, the headlights come on automatically at night. The automatic high beams work extremely well.
  • qs933qs933 Posts: 302
    That's an interesting link to the Quick Reference Guide.

    Did anyone else notice that Toyota apparently planned on selling a true "base" model with manual air conditioning a single-CD player, and manually-adjustable driver's seat? There are also features marked "if equipped" -- fog lights and Homelink, for example.

    If you look at the Toyota website, even the 4-cylinder model comes standard with dual-zone auto AC, a 6-disc changer, and a power driver's seat.

    The date on the document is 10/2008 -- I wonder if the single, well-equipped trim-line strategy was a last-minute change? Or maybe there was supposed to be a "LE" and "XLE" trim similar to the Camry?
  • bodble2bodble2 Posts: 4,519
    Or they would expand the trim-line offerings later in the model year or perhaps in the 2nd model year. A budget "LE", and a luxury "XLE", as well as possibly a Hybrid. The XLE could include one or 2 of the optional packages as standard equipment plus things like memory seats, which is currently not available at all.
  • To get back on topic, I would definitely get the Venza before the RX 350. Looking at pictures, the Venza interior is much MUCH nicer, especially with the new center console with the sliding cupholders... So much storage space! As someone said before, the Lexus design is getting old now, and the Venza refresh is actually one of the few Toyota cars that many people agree looks better than the Lexus version.

    In with the new; get a Venza!
  • bodble2bodble2 Posts: 4,519
    "the Venza interior is much MUCH nicer"

    My brother has a RX350, so I've spent time in it. The Venza would have to have a hell of a nice interior to vindicate your statement. I haven't seen the Venza interior in the flesh so I would have to withhold final judgement, but it's difficult to imagine something on a par with the Camry having a much nicer interior than the Lexus. From the photos, I thought the interior is actually the weak point of the Venza. It doesn't look modern and swoopy like the exterior. It looks kinda bland and Buicky. Not sporty at all, from the minivanesque shifter to the foot parking brake to the shiny plood. But again, that's only from photos.
  • I suggest you check out the interior fly-through video on Toyota's site; It is very, very nice and I would expect the same... that a Lexus would be nicer than a Toyota... But it looks like, at least this model, things are changing. As far as I know the new Lexus crossover will not be getting the sliding center console, but all new Toyotas and Lexus cars will be moving to the convenient shifting position, which is actually great positioning because it uncovers a ton of previously unusable center console space... Now they use that new area for storage since the shifter is out of the way.

    Venza Interior:

    image

    image

    Lexus Interior:

    image

    They all have the same buttons and everything on the center console, except the Lexus has the dedicated radio display and a tape deck where the Venza has it's MP3 player dock/connection and what I believe is its seat heating controls? Both interiors are very nice, actually, so I shouldnt have said MUCH with so much emphasis, but I do believe the Venza has made better use of the space and definitely gives its Lexus brother some competition for the price.
  • qs933qs933 Posts: 302
    I agree that the Venza's interior is nice with ample storage space. But to be fair to the RX350 that you're comparing to, the 2009 RX is a 6-year old design. The 2010 RX has a much more styled (note I think it's "styled" not necessarily "stylish") interior than the previous generation.

    Personally, not a big fan of the 2010 RX interior. I think there is too little use of the real wood trim that Lexus is known for. The gold "Lexus" below the climate controls is cheesy. Without navigation, you're stuck with a black-and-white multi-function display.
  • Sorry, I thought that was the 2010 interior that I showed... I thought it was weird with the completely different shifter position, as the pics I had seen about a week ago were similar to Venza style... My mistake! Here are the pics, revisited :)

    Lexus Driver View
    image

    Venza Driver View
    image

    Lexus Passenger View
    image

    Venza Passenger View without Nav
    image

    Lexus Full Cabin View
    image

    Venza Full Cabin View:
    image

    Lexus Exterior Front:
    image

    Venza Exterior Front:
    image

    Which Lexus is this? Looks more comparable to the Venza.....:
    image

    Lexus Exterior Rear View:
    image

    Venza Exterior Rear View:
    image

    Looking at these pictures, Venza just did more with it's center console space usage, whereas Lexus reserves 1/3 of the space exclusively for the shifter. Other than that, and the placement of the Nav in the Lexus and the Sliding Dual storage compartments in the Venza, the two cars are nearly identical. Also interesting to note that because of the Venza's hideaway cupholders, there are also 2 cupholders in each of the lower frames of the driver and passenger doors. I can't wait to see what the 2010 Venza does in improvement, if this is just the first version! :shades:
  • As someone who currently drives an RX350 and is also very interested in the Venza, I found the Venza interior to be a very nice design, with some better attributes than the Lexus. The Venza's materials are generally a grade below Lexus, such as fake wood vs real wood trim; Lexus leather feels a bit softer; the dash, door and console plastics on the Lexus are more soft-to-the-touch and a bit nicer to look at (sort of leather grain plastic vs. the Venza's rice paper look). And the Venza has a cheap looking dashboard grill covering a center speaker (I think) that did not fit well in the two Venzas I was in. However, I like the overall layout of the Venza's controls and the functionality of the center console better than the RX. The seat heater knobs of the RX are very small and nearly impossible to operate while wearing gloves. And the moveable center console on the RX is prone to rattles and doesn't have much functionality, other than cupholders and a deep box area where it's often hard to find stuff at the bottom of the space. The back seat of the Venza seems to have more legroom than the Lexus and the ability to fold down the rear seat backs from the rear hatch area of the Venza is a great convenience. And compared with photos of the 2010 RX interior, I'd pick the Venza. I'll need to see the new Lexus in person to make a final judgment.
  • Anyone have any idea what this car is? I thought the RX line was the Venza's direct competition, but as I stated in my last post this one looks a lot more similar with the light/grille and body style:

    image
  • bodble2bodble2 Posts: 4,519
    Just a wild guess -- the Lexus version of the Matrix?
  • Thank you for all of the the imputs vs these two cars. I am also looking at both and having a Volvo XC90 for the safety factors.. and trust me , no other reason, I am really concerned b/c the Venza is a new vehicle. Any thoughts are greatly appreciated and which option is better AWD/FWD and what is a good price to pay for the Venza
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