Certain names resonate, like Gaga, Kardashian, Hefner, Angelou, Bush and Clinton. Product names also resonate, such as Corolla, Camry, Avalon, 4Runner, Cressida and Celica.

If Venza, the name of the crossover produced by Toyota from 2008 through 2015, resonates at all, it’s not for the reason you suppose. Toyota officially insists that the name derives from a mash-up of the words “venture” and Monza.” However, its name is almost identical to the Japanese word for toilet seat: benza. I’ve been told that Toyota’s Japanese executives always found the name amusing, telling their stateside colleagues while snickering that Americans drive toilet seats. Yet we had the last laugh. The Venza was never the success company officials expected. So you have to wonder why Toyota is reviving that crappy old moniker for its first two-row crossover SUV sold solely with a gas-electric hybrid driveline and all-wheel drive, rather than using another old name.


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