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What Car? says

4 out of 5 stars

For Masses of safety kit and a five-star Euro NCAP rating

Against Noisy petrol engines, firm ride

Verdict Safe, dependable and spacious family transport

Go for… 2.0 D-4D T2

Avoid… None

Toyota Avensis Hatchback
  • 1. Clutches can fail as soon as 10,000 miles, especially on diesels
  • 2. Some cars have trouble with water or condensation in the headlights and with bulb holders melting
  • 3. Check the steering and brakes, which can very occasionally give trouble
  • 4. The dashboard layout is intuitive and the well-weighted controls work with precision
  • 5. There's plenty of room for passengers in the rear, so this makes a fine family car
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Toyota Avensis Hatchback full review with expert trade views

This is such an easy car to live with. It’s a doddle to get comfortable behind the wheel, the dashboard layout is intuitive and the well-weighted controls work with real precision.

It's practical, too, with plenty of oddment spaces around the driver, and four passengers won’t be short of room in the solidly screwed-together cabin. The boot – hatch or saloon – is one of the largest in the class, too.

You get plenty of equipment to keep you safe and comfortable, and the car secure (an alarm, deadlocks, marked parts and etched windows are standard).

On the road, too, the Avensis is similarly impressive, and the engines are refined, although the petrols can get noisy when you rev them hard. In this respect at least, the diesels are better and cruise in near silence.

Whatever engine you have under the bonnet, the Avensis goes round corners tidily, with little lean, and the firm ride is fine until you build up speed, when it can become jittery. Wind noise is well contained on the motorway, but road roar does intrude.

Trade view

John Owen

Toyota reliability and support. Built like a brick outhouse. Safe haven for your money

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford

The saloon is slightly cheaper than the equivalent hatchback, but we’d pay the (very small) premium to have five doors. Access to the hatch’s luggage area is easier and its split rear seats fold completely flat, whereas the saloon’s sit slightly proud.

We’d also take the 114bhp 2.0-litre diesel for its smooth, refined pull and mile-stretching fuel economy. If you think that still won't be enough, there’s also a very fine 148bhp 2.2 diesel, linked up to a six-speed manual gearbox, for even more punch.

That said, the petrol engines are all decent enough. The 1.8 can feel a little underpowered at times, so the 2.0 is a better bet, while a 161bhp 2.4 direct injection motor tops the range.

You’ll certainly not want for safety kit, which includes twin front, side and curtain airbags, as well as one for the driver’s knees, plus electronic driver aids. Air-con and a CD player are standard on all models; T3-S, T4 and T Spirit have sat-nav.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Good reliability, low failure rates - higher than average bills due to expensive Toyota parts

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct

You’ll need to stump up a fair stash to get hold of one - the Avensis holds its value well as a used car. Still, that also means you should get back a good chunk of what you paid when you flog it on later.

That slow depreciation is typical of the car's fine running costs. Insurance costs are low, for example, partly because the Avensis carries so much safety and security kit. The 1.8 VVT-i and our favourite 2.0 D-4D turbodiesel are rated as group 7, and group 10 (for the 2.2 D-4D) is as bad as it gets.

Servicing will set you back about the same as for a Vauxhall Vectra. But, you can trim about one-third from the labour bill by using a good independent, according to Warranty Direct research.

You’ll be fine at the pumps, too. The worst you’ll get in normal driving will be about 30mpg (the 2.4 petrol) but the other petrols give 35-40mpg and the diesels mid- to high-40s.

Trade view

John Owen

Toyota reliability and support. Built like a brick outhouse. Safe haven for your money

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford

A full service history is very important. The Avensis isn’t the kind of car that needs to be regularly pampered in the workshop, but a complete maintenance record is vital to maximise its resale value.

So far, this version of the Avensis has, like its predecessor, shown itself to be extremely robust. No surprise there, because it’s a Toyota. However, there have been reports of clutches failing as soon as 10,000 miles, especially on the diesels. Most will have been replaced under warranty.

Some cars have trouble with water or condensation in the headlights and with bulb holders melting. Again, you should be able to persuade a Toyota dealer to fix it under the warranty if it’s still valid.

Check the steering and brakes, too, as they can give trouble in rare instances. Finally, there have been a couple of recalls for brake-related issues and the steering column can rattle – a known problem – but it isn’t dangerous.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Good reliability, low failure rates - higher than average bills due to expensive Toyota parts

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct
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