Toyota Avensis Estate (2008 - 2012) review
Read the car review by Auto Trader's motoring experts, covering price, specification, running costs, practicality, safety and how it drives.
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The latest Toyota Avensis Tourer looks far classier than before and appears to benefit from some Lexus influences in the design. It still struggles to make an impression when compared to rivals such as the Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Insignia. Design highlights include the curvy roof line, the high-shouldered sides and the sleek headlights that are swept back into the wings and bonnet. Revisions for 2012 include a front bumper with a large lower grille to make the car appear lower and wider and new headlights with daytime running lamps. Overall the execution is slightly better than the saloon.
The switchgear is well-placed and is easy to use. The build quality is excellent as is the interior trim while plastics feel as though they are from a class above. However, the interior of the Toyota Avensis Tourer is just not distinctive enough when compared to the Ford and Vauxhall rivals and while the Touch & Go sat-vav/infotainment system on our test car worked well enough, the fiddly electronic handbrake feels poorly positioned.
The front seats are arm-chair comfortable like those in the Honda Accord, with plenty of headroom and legroom front and back – the lack of a tranmission tunnel in the rear maximises space in the rear for three. Fold down the rear seats and there’s a maximum of 1,609 litres of luggage room available, slightly less than the Mondeo but more than the Insignia Sport Tourer’s. The Avensis’s all-round visibility is excellent. Rear park cameras are available, but no front park sensors are offered.
Ride and handling
The Ford and Vauxhall both offer more engaging drives. However, if you value comfort and refinement above driver enjoyment then this could be the car for you. The Toyota Avensis always feels very safe and secure and soaks up the bumps even when fully loaded with passengers. Models sold from 2012 onwards have a raft of improvements but the steering still feels remote and offers little in the way of feedback.
One petrol and two diesel engines are offered. The petrol option is a 145bhp 1.8 which offers up a 9.7 second 0-62mph time with the six-speed manual gearbox, while the CVT automatic takes a further second to reach the same speed. The most popular model is the 130bhp 2-litre diesel, which while lacking outright grunt – its performance is on par with the petrol – proves a good motorway cruiser, and refined unless pushed hard. It’ll reach 62mph in 10 seconds and acheive a 124mph maximum. A 150bhp 2.2-litre engine is also offered, with an 9.2 second 0-62mph time rising to 9.8 seconds when fitted with the automatic gearbox. Travelling at speed is a refined experience and Toyota has done much to improve sound insulation inside the car.
The best-selling 130bhp diesel is the running cost champion of the range, with an official fuel consumption figure of 61.4mpg and emissions of 119g/km – 20g/km than models built before 2012. The 2.2 diesel manages 50.4mpg but increases emissions to 147g/km – more if mated to the automatic gearbox. Toyota says used values will be stronger for the Avensis 2-litre diesel in TR trim than the equivalent Ford Mondeo, Vauxhall Insignia and Volkswagen Passat, which is good news when the time comes to sell. Company car drivers are well served too, with a Benefit in Kind (BIK) rate of 13 per cent for the same model – less than its rivals.
Many will buy the Avensis purely for its reputation for reliability. We covered more than 10,000 miles in a saloon over six months and nothing gave any cause for concern. New Toyotas are covered by a five year warranty which will give extra confidence to buyers.
The Toyota Avensis saloon is a top performer in Euro NCAP crash tests, with a five-star rating, so we would expect the Tourer estate to be no less safe. Standard equipment includes seven airbags, anti-lock brakes, electronic brakeforce distribution, brake assist and vehicle stability control. Pre-Crash Safety system is optionally available, which will apply the brakes if a collision is predicted and includes Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning and Lane Keep Assist.
Four models are available in the Avensis range – Active, Icon, Icon Plus and Excel – and all models are superbly equipped, with ‘follow-me-home’ headlights and Bluetooth. Active models come with air-conditioning, electric front windows and a trip computer. The Icon is the most popular model and adds Toyota’s Touch & Go sat-sav and audio system with DAB radio, multimedia connectivity, rear park camera, 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic air conditioning and automatic headlights and wipers. Icon Plus models add leather and alcantara upholstery and bespoke interior trim. Excel models add 18-inch alloys, electric seat adjustment, rear park sensors and Touch & Go Plus, which offers internet connectivity through a smartphone.
The Toyoyta Avensis Tourer is like an appliance, look after it and it will look after you. It’s relaxing and comfortable to drive, as well as being a practical family buy.