What's the used Toyota Avensis saloon like?
It’s easy to forget when writing about cars for a living that there are people out there who don’t view the car as something to savour and enjoy. They just want a car that’s comfortable, reasonably economical, quiet, well equipped and, above all, reliable. If that's you, a used Toyota Avensis may well be just what you're looking for.
Available as a saloon or an estate, this iteration of the Avensis is a heavily updated version of the 2009-2015 model. The outside was given similar styling cues to the smaller Auris, the interior was made slightly plusher and a new range of diesel engines (provided by BMW) was introduced to make the Avensis more competitive with other executive cars in terms of running costs.
There are two diesel options: an economical 109bhp 1.6-litre unit and a 141bhp 2.0-litre unit. The larger engine is best if you regularly carry five people, but the 1.6-litre is fine so long as you don’t wish to overtake anything faster than a milk float. Neither engine option is particularly hushed and you’ll notice a fair amount of vibration coming through the pedals and steering wheel. The sole petrol, a 145bhp 1.8-litre unit, is the only engine you can get with an automatic gearbox, but it’s rather short on torque and requires plenty of revs to make progress, making it a bit unrefined.
Space inside is fine, and there's plenty of adjustment for the driver in both the seat and steering wheel, although the base Active model is best avoided, since it doesn’t get adjustable lumbar support. The interior quality isn’t a patch on that of rivals such as the Volkswagen Passat, while the infotainment system is slow to respond, not that intuitive to use and lacking more modern smartphone functionality such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Although rivals such as the Ford Mondeo and Skoda Superb are bigger inside, the Avensis still has plenty of leg room for passengers in the rear. Plus, the floor is completely flat, which is a rarity in this sector and means that three people across the rear bench is a more agreeable affair. The boot is a decent size, although its opening can be quite restrictive when you're trying to load taller items. There are 60/40-split folding rear seats, though.
If you’re hoping for an entertaining drive, you should go for the Mondeo or Mazda 6 instead, because the Avensis is set up to be a motorway cruiser and so pays little to no service to sharp handling. It’s all very safe, though, and all versions are fitted with automatic emergency braking.
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