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Off-highway or Off-road capabilities of Venza AWD

bbtingbbting Posts: 9
edited June 2015 in Toyota
On, the spec for Highlander and RAV4 show similar approach/departure angle (degrees)= 29/24. Even RX350 and Honda CR-V have similar values. But the site does not specify any for Venza. However I've found some other sites like report Venza only has poor values of approach/departure angle, approximately 17/16. I doubt if those figures are correct. If they are correct, does that mean Venza has much poorer off-highway/road capabilities than the competing cross-overs? Any one has those figures for Venza ?


  • Hey bbting, I have seen the same 17/16 approach/departure figures from several sources, including Toyota dealer web sites, so I believe these are accurate. What it means is that the Venza has sacrificed a bit in the name of car-like styling. The front chin spoiler on the Venza will limit approach angle, unlike an SUV that usually has its chin tucked under much more than a car. In the rear, the Venza wanted a low hangover to improve ease of loading compared with an SUV, thus it sacrificed a bit of its departure angle. As for off-road capability, in real use it is probably not much different than many other car-based, unibody vehicle that also has 8.1 inches of ground clearance and AWD. These vehicles aren't meant for climbing over logs and navigating steep hills in the forest. Their off-road capabilities are really limited to following that dirt road to grandma's house or parking in a field at a wine festival. The Venza has no protective side cladding (neither do many larger crossovers), so real off-road driving will scratch the heck out of the body. Finally, the Venza comes with street tires that aren't meant to take on much more than a little bit of gravel or dry dirt and grass.

  • bbtingbbting Posts: 9
    I understand that all these Cross-overs are not designed for off-road use. But I guess having bigger approach/departure angles should allow the car to get over rocky ice/snow mix in poor winter conditions. We are currently experiencing very cold winter in Western Canada here this year. Our roads are constantly unplowed and packed with ice and snow. Currently I am stuck at home because my corolla can't climb the ramps even with snow tires. The low approach/departure anlges of the Venza kind of worries me as I am inclined to buy one as soon as it is available. Do you think I should reconsider other cars like Highlander or RAV4 for that purpose ?

    But I just don't understand even RX350, which is so similar to Venza but with lower ground clearance and smaller rim, has much bigger approach/departure angles. Can you explain that ?
  • To determine your approach angle, draw a straight line from the point where the front tire touches the ground up to the lower edge of the front bumper or chin-spoiler (or lowest point on the front end of the vehicle). The angle that line makes with the road (or ground) is your approach angle. In general, the higher the front edge of the bumper and the shorter the overhang, the large (better) the approach angle. I have an RX350 and I just measured the lower edge of the front bumper is 18.5 inches off the ground. I don't have a Venza nearby, but based on photos in a brochure, I would estimate the low point of the Venza's front bumper is not more than 10 inches (maybe as low as the 8.1 inch ground clearance) off the ground. That's a pretty big difference and would allow the RX350 to "approach" a deeper pile of snow. The low front end of the Venza will act as a snow plow if the snow is above its chin. However, any vehicle could potentially bottom-out in when driven in snow that is deeper than its overall ground clearance. Approach angles are more important when driving on firm ground (i.e. climbing a hill). A good approach angle doesn't help much when the front wheels sink in the soft snow - in that case ground clearance is most important (in my opinion). Hope this helps a bit.

  • macpromacpro Posts: 52
    Just measured the lowest point in the front bumper and it's about 8.5 inches off the ground which is very close to the 8.1 inches of official ground clearance as listed in the specs.
  • rfrfrfrf Posts: 31
    I am comparing the Toyota AWD system with others. Toyota specifies that the Venza AWD system works like a conventional AWD system but that it is active in that:

    a. On a standing start and during acceleration, torque distribution is adjusted to the rear wheels. my question: is that 100% to the rear wheels or is power still being sent to the front? Does torque go to the rear wheels only or is there a rear wheel bias, for example front/rear 45/55?

    b. When cornering, torque distribution to the rear is reduced. My question: is that 100% to the front wheels or is power still being sent to the rear? Does torque go to the front wheels only or is there a front wheel bias, for example front/rear 55/45?

    c. At highway speeds, torque distribution to the rear is reduced. My question: is that 100% to the front wheels or is power still being sent to the rear? Does torque go to the front wheels only or is there a front wheel bias, for example front/rear 55/45 or more like 90/10?

    d. What is it that the system gauges to make the changes, slippage or speed?
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    The Venza F/awd system has the transaxle output SOLIDLY coupled to the front differential. Therefore the front differential will ALWAYS recieve a minimum of 50% of the available engine torque.

    My guess would be that with moderate to hard acceleration the torque distribution will be something on the order of 70/30 F/R and only 50/50 with front wheelspin resulting from engine torque having recently ocurred....slippery surface.

    When turning tightly, especially in an accelerating turn, the coupling to the rear must be removed entirely to prevent tire scrubbing and/or driveline windup.

    At highway speeds on a reasonably tractive surface, say cruising along at a relatively constant speed, there is no need for torque to the rear. And just like with a true 4X4/4WD it could/would be detrimental for both front and rear drivelines to remain engaged in those conditions.

    d. Braking, engine torque, roadspeed, turning radius, wheelspin/slip.
  • get a Subaru Outback, you won't be disappointed, much better off-road as it's AWD all the time and higher ground clearance.
  • btg1btg1 Posts: 3
    Not true about the AWD being better on an outback. Watch this for proof.
    also we had a 2009 impreza living up up in the mountains where it snowed 400-500" a year. The impreza bogged so bad in the deep stuff that sometimes we couldn't get home. After 1 year with that junker we traded back for a 2004 audi a4 1.8t and the difference was night and day. The 5 year older audi blew the Subaru away in all aspects. I would never buy a Subaru again. They said it'd get 30mpg. Well, only with a tailwind unloaded. Normal highway was about 24-26mpg and 21 city. We just got a 2015 venza with the i4. Only have 300 miles on it so can't really tell you how it'll do off road yet. However, we did buy it because our 2014passat with 1.8 tsi engine (wich is way more fun to drive) couldn't fit all our camping stuff nor go off road at all. I'll be going camping with a little off road soon and will report back.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    edited June 2015
    Seems like a more fair comparison for your drive home would be the Venza vs Outback (as in the YouTube link).

    The '15 Outback has 8.7" of ground clearance vs 8.1 on the '15 Venza.

    Sedans would bog down in my alley at my last house close to Lake Superior in the UP, but I'd have to go hunting for drifts if I wanted to bog down my old '97 Outback.

    400" a winter is nuts btw. Most we got in the UP was a bit over 200 and it was rare to get over 50 when I lived in Anchorage (mostly driving a 82 Tercel with a bit less than 5" of clearance). Now I just have rocks on the gravel roads in my neighborhood to worry about. :)
  • btg1btg1 Posts: 3
    Ha! That's funny, I grew up in Anchorage.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    Then you know the very best vehicle for getting up those glaciated driveways on the Hillside or behind Potter Marsh is a '73 Super Beetle (we won't talk about trying to keep the windshield clear). :D
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