Nearly forgotten: the Toyota Venza

I like to think of myself as enough of a gearhead to remember about 90 to 95 percent, at least, of the new cars out on the market and be able to identify them. In the early 200s, when the lookalike, bland styling of the 1990s was still with us, I could distinguish a Chevy Malibu from a Ford Taurus from roughly half a mile away. While this impressed my friends, it isn’t the most useful skill to have.

But, with that in mind, it’s a rare occurrence for me to completely forget that a car exists. The Toyota Venza has the honor—specific and minor as it might be—of being the only new car I completely forgot about until I ran into a white one in a Walmart parking lot.

I knew what it was instantly. After all, no one could really forget this thing’s grill, which, to my eyes, manages to appear organic and unfinished at the same time. The rest of it is a similar mishmash of design malf-ups. The headlights look like first generation Ford Edge’s, but melted, as if the stamping press was set at too high of a temperature. With the angular window edge on the D pillar and simple rounded surfaces that form the doors and fenders, the design just doesn’t harmonize. It can’t call it ugly, but this isn’t a car that we’ll revere for its design in 20 years.

Now, there was a better reason for me to write this than to say, “Oh, the Venza exists,” but the Internet has failed me.

There’s a new Venza commercial running right now, and I think it’s quite a good one. It features a daughter complaining about how her parents are socially inept because they only have 19 facebook friends, while she has more than 600. Que the parents and two of their friends taking a Venza out into the woods, pulling their bikes off the rack, and going for a cross-country ride. I first saw it a couple of days after I reacquainted myself with this particular Toyota and I couldn’t help but think that their ad agency hit the nail on the head.

Unfortunately, I can’t find it anywhere. Pull a Google search on the 2011 Venza and almost everything that pops up is a dealer uploaded video. I’d never seen so many dealer videos for one product before and it makes me think that they’re starting to get desperate to unload these things. A quick look at TTAC’s June sales chart for crossovers confirmed it: the Venza’s not doing so well. In six months Toyota’s only moved 25,196 of them. That’s only better than the Ford Flex, Mazda CX-9, Honda Crosstour, and the Honda Element, which all have a terrible sales record.

But, with launch commercials such as this, it’s not hard to understand why the Venza isn’t even in the middle of the pack.

It’s apparently trying to sell the Venza from a style standpoint. Right. The only way that pitch works is if everyone watching has a moderate eye infection.

Even still, I have to give that first ad credit. At least it doesn’t outright lie as this 2011 ad does.

The Venza won’t turn you into a prince, it’ll more likely turn you into a frog.

Both of these ads makes me all the more disappointed that I can’t find this new ad yet. It works perfectly for the older consumers that generally buy Toyotas and probably makes up the Venza’s largest amount of buyers. They are customers who want a reliable, fairly fuel efficient, cargo-carrying vehicle that isn’t an SUV but is taller than an sedan, and they can’t go wrong with the Venza. It’s not remotely exciting or interesting, but it gets the job done. That’s all they’re looking for.

It’s good to see Toyota acknowledging that fact. The company has repeatedly stated that it wants to get younger people into their products while breaking the perception that they’re a foggy, fuddy, old person brand. The old perception of Buick, basically. While that’s certainly a good idea, because eventually the source of all your income will die, companies can’t completely alienate the people who do make up most of your income and market share. That’s why ads such as this one are necessary. 

Now, if only someone would post it online. Considering how the average youtuber is under 40, I doubt it’ll happen anytime soon.


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