Love this car! We purchased the 4 cylinder engine - AWD model in June 2009, and have never been sorry we did. It is a reliable and safe vehicle and the drive is smooth and comfortable. We never had a maintenance problem, just followed the manufacturers service recommendations. If it were not for the fact that my 6'2" husband who is now a stroke patient needs more leg room to get in/out of the car easily, I would not be trading this car in. We are trading our Venza in for a Highlander in order to accommodate my husband's medical needs - more legroom and a higher seat level. I will definitely miss my Venza.
Awd and tow package kill mpg. Do Replace tires w Michelins in snow--makes a big difference. The tires also are stickier than the oem, so expect mpg to drop. Don't know why anyone would buy a car this large w 4 cyl... Just replaced 1 of 4 catalytic converters $1200. Brakes last year. 105K mi. Put 28000 on in first year--Total invested $3600, including spendy tires. Still like the car, usually I'm mad by the 3rd year. Would buy another, also w tow package, except not keen on new car prices. Last year I test drove 30, yes 30,used vehicles, 40-100k mi, for offspring. Except for the Volvo, the only one that didn't vibrate, rattle, or rust was my venza. That reset my expectations for sure. The interior is large enough for grown men, the surfaces are stain repellent-so fabric still looks great, even after schlepping a dog and a 9 yo.
I was very happy with the car in general. The only issue is the steering wheel clicking that started around 38K miles. Yes, just after the warranty expired!!! It is a known issue, and an honest manufacturer will keep the warranty going, but no Toyota. To fix it, is very expensive because the part only costs over a 1K. I have 5 toyotas in the past, and because this issue I wont ever get a Toyota again.
This thing is super reliable. Nothing has gone wrong with it. Nothing. AWD is helpful in rain and snow and helps it handle better. The steering is slow-ish to react, the transmission often takes an age to find gears, it has enough power but the transmission just can't figure out which gear to put this thing in sometimes. Brakes are pretty spot on.
We opted for the cloth seats which are easily the most comfortable seats in any car, though BUYER BEWARE, the leather seats are *miserable.* The interior has held up very well to abuse from kids. The stereo doesn't sound bad either.
We have the 4 cylinder, 4-wheel drive model. I would not recommend the 4 cylinder if pairing it with 4 wheel drive. It does tend to struggle a bit. It doesn't quite have the torque it could have. If we could go back and buy the car again we'd easily opt for the 6 cylinder in a heartbeat. They actually get very similar mileage once you realize how uneconomically the 4 cylinder has to be pushed on occasion. It's also clattery and loud. The road noise is also not great either. Having a conversation with someone in the backseat is much harder than it should be.
The ride quality and road noise are horrible on this car! Should be MUCH better on a car this size. I change tires that were recommended in the Toyota forums and they did not help at all! Won't buy another one!