First UK drive

The trouble with the Toyota Avensis is there’s very little that stands out.

The ride is solid, it’s well styled, the mileage is respectable, but there’s just no… X factor.

But maybe that’s the appeal.

For many drivers, the understated aesthetics of the Avensis are an antidote to the look-at-me stylings so many other manufacturers seem intent on forcing on the car buying public.

The Avensis is well styled – the front section has a new grill, and overall the design is very restrained. No surprises here.

As far as the ride is concerned, the Avensis is comfortable, the acceleration and cornering smooth – not a million miles away from the Ford Focus. Or a hundred other cars.

The T180 Tourer’s natural home is the motorway. The drive is smooth and comfortable, you don’t have to strain to hear the conversation, even when travelling at 70mph.

Like the rest of the car, the dashboard has a subtle, restrained style, but the clock is located by the driver’s dials, making it impossible for the passenger to see. Side airbags are a welcome inclusion, and I’m pleased to report the cup holder is well placed and sized.

The Sat Nav system in the model we tested did the job very well, even getting us back on track after the detour to take the photos you see here. My only quibble would be the small black and white LCD display – which makes the unit look more like a pocket calculator than an up-to-date piece of kit.

One alteration from previous models is the moving of the indicators to the wing mirrors (as Honda has done with the Accord).

The air conditioning unit has one neat feature – dual control. Temperature and airflow can be independently controlled for both the passenger and drivers sides.

The overall impression I got from the Avensis was ‘repmobile’. It’s comfortable, totally unoffensive, and a smooth ride for cross-country journeys. Perhaps a coat-hanger and Travelodge vouchers should come as standard.

Want a car to get you noticed? Look elsewhere.

Want a smooth ride that gets the job done with no fuss? Ladies and gentlemen, the Toyota Avensis 2.2 D-4D T180 Tourer.

Key facts

Model tested: Toyota Avensis 2.2 D-4D T180 Tourer
On the road price: £22,515
Price range: £18,015 – £22,515
Date tested: June 2006
Road tester: Alex Eckford