Toyota Avensis Saloon full 9 point review
Petrol power is limited to a single 1.8-litre engine, which is a little short of low-rev shove and needs to be worked hard. The 2.0-litre diesel is faster and more flexible, although the 2.2-litre version isn’t much quicker. There’s another 2.2 diesel that comes with an automatic gearbox as standard, but it can be slow to respond, so unless you need an auto, we’d avoid it.
Ride & Handling
The Avensis feels well off the pace compared with rivals such as the Ford Mondeo. It’s at its best when ploughing a straight furrow on the motorway, where the suspension quietly goes about its business. Throw in a few bends, though, and a woeful shortage of steering precision and plenty of body roll quickly curtail any notion of enthusiastic driving.
The Avensis is reasonably quiet around town, and you can barely hear the engines at idle. Work them hard and they can get a little gruff, but the diesels settle to a subtle background hum on the motorway. There's little else to trouble you at speed, although rough surfaces kick up some road noise. It's a pity that the automatic gearbox (standard on the 2.2-litre D-CAT diesel) isn’t a little smoother, though.
Buying & Owning
Despite similar performance figures, the 2.0 D-4D is far more economical than the 2.2-litre diesel, plus it costs less to insure and sits in a lower tax bracket. It's still not as efficient as the best family cars, however, so it will cost more to run as a company car. Resale values are nothing special.
Quality & Reliability
The Avensis doesn't provide the same feel-good factor as some rivals; the design and materials in its cabin are too bland for that. What's more, it was rated just average for reliability in the latest JD Power customer satisfaction survey. At least everything feels solidly built and you get the reassurance of a five-year warranty.
Safety & Security
The Avensis comes with front, side and curtain airbags, and it has an airbag under the steering column to protect the driver's knees. There are also active front-seat head restraints, along with a stability control system that helps get the driver out of danger in an emergency. Deadlocks and an alarm are fitted across the range.
Behind The Wheel
It doesn't score highly for style, but the Avenis's dashboard gets top marks for ease of use, thanks to its bold, simple controls. The only quirk is the push-button handbrake, which takes some getting used to. The driver's seat is comfortable, although the system for adjusting the backrest angle is a little fiddly. Visibility is excellent; the rear view is a lot clearer than that in many rivals.
Space & Practicality
The Avensis isn't as spacious as a Ford Mondeo, but it provides lots of head- and legroom, and a flat floor makes things reasonably comfortable for a central rear passenger. The boot isn't as large as a Mondeo's, but it doesn't fall far short, so it's massive nonetheless. The rear seats split and fold to boost boot space, but the saloon body limits what you can put in.
Entry-level Active models have the basics, including air-conditioning, Bluetooth and an auxiliary input socket, but we'd go for Icon trim, which adds desirable features such as sat-nav, dual-zone climate control, a rear-view camera and a digital radio. Icon Business Edition versions also get leather and Alcantara seats. Excel models come with electrically adjustable heated leather seats and a better stereo, but they're pretty expensive.