The Auto Trader expert verdict:
The Toyota Avensis is a Ford Mondeo-sized saloon which offers comfort and reliability, but can’t match the way the Mondeo drives or looks.
Reasons to buy:
- Comfortable and refined
- Well equipped
How good does it look?
The Toyota Avensis is best described as a wallflower, with little in the way of styling flair to set it apart from any other mid-sized saloons in its class. The Avensis has a bonnet and boot that appear unusually short in side profile to maximise interior space. But it is design like this which makes the Avensis look far smaller than it really is. Revisions for 2012 include a front bumper with a large lower grille to make the car appear lower and wider – which will filter into all new Toyotas – new headlights with daytime running lamps and a new rear bumper.
What's the interior like?
The interior layout is hard to fault, with solid-feeling and well-positioned controls labelled clearly. Models equipped with sat-nav have many of the car’s ancillary controls included as part of the Touch & Go navigation/infotainment unit which organizes the controls nicely. The dials are easy to read and a gearshift light aids gearchanges at the most economical points. Sadly the interior lacks the design flair of the Honda Accord, Volkswagen Passat or Ford Mondeo with tough but dull plastics, and the leather trim, where fitted, looks shiny and artificial.
How practical is it?
Interior space is sufficient for most, but lags behind the Ford Mondeo. Rear legroom for three passengers is aided by a flat floor where, for most rivals a transmission tunnel takes up cabin space. The boot measures 509 litres, compared to the Mondeo’s 528 litres and the Honda Accord’s 467 litres. The seats split and fold to increase space, but the lack of a wide-opening hatchback bootlid hampers ultimate practicality. Rear park cameras are available, but no front park sensors are offered. An electronic parking brake is fitted as standard, but it’s tricky to use, particularly when parallel parking on a slope.
What's it like to drive?
The Toyota Avensis has been tailored for its buyers who cover huge mileages and place comfort over driving thrills. The suspension soaks up bumps as well as the very best of its rivals, and even at speed the Avensis is supremely refined. The controls are light and it is very easy and relaxing to drive. Despite improvements made to the steering and suspension on models available from 2012-onwards, the steering feels remote and offers little in the way of feedback, meaning it falls short of the Ford Mondeo in the entertainment stakes..
How powerful is it?
The Avensis is offered with one petrol and two diesel engines. The petrol option is a 145bhp 1.8 which offers up a 9.4 second 0-62mph time with the six-speed manual gearbox, while the CVT automatic takes a further second to reach the benchmark 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 9.7 seconds and acheive a 124mph maximum. A 150bhp 2.2-litre engine is also offered, with an 8.9 second 0-62mph time rising to 9.5 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.
How much will it cost me?
The best-selling 130bhp diesel is the running cost champion of the range, with an official fuel consumption figure of 62.8mpg and emissions of 119g/km – 20g/km than models built before 2012. The 2.2 diesel manages 51.4mpg but increases emissions to 143g/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.
How reliable is it?
Many will buy the Toyota Avensis purely for its reputation on reliability. We covered more than 10,000 miles in one 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.
How safe is it?
The Toyota Avensis scored a full five star rating in the Euro NCAP crash test programme, and was praised for the way it protects adult and child occupants. It was also given a strong rating for its safety assistance features. 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.
How much equipment do I get?
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 Toyota Avensis is a superbly equipped, reliable and comfortable car. It is exceptionally easy to live with, but it won’t stir the soul.