Is it real? Yes, and it will be assembled in Georgetown, Ky.
What they said: "We saw buyers that were sitting on the fence when choosing between an SU.V. and a car," said Robert Carter, general manager of the Toyota Division. In a gracious humanitarian move, Toyota hopes to end that painful indecision with the five-passenger Venza, which Mr. Carter called a "crossover sedan." Toyota managed a new benchmark for linguistic contortions to avoid saying the Venza is a station wagon.
What they didn't say: Toyota has been contemplating such a vehicle for years. It was first considered just before Lexus introduced the RX crossover in 1998. Mr. Carter did note that the idea was revived as the FT-SX concept, which was introduced at the 2005 North American International Auto Show.
What makes it tick? The Venza is about the length of the Highlander and will be available in either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. Many of the mechanical underpinnings come from the Avalon sedan. A new 2.7-liter four-cylinder will be available, although Toyota declined to disclose the horsepower. The alternative is a 3.5-liter V-6 rated at 268 horsepower. The only transmission is a six-speed automatic.
How much, how soon? Toyota officials said the Venza will be a luxury vehicle and, while they won't discuss pricing, it seems likely to be in the upper $20,000 to mid-$30,000 range. It goes on sale near the end of the year.
How's it look? Streamlined. Slick. But Toyota has a habit of introducing vehicles that are more interesting to look at than drive.