Toyota Avensis review
A facelift late in 2011 means the Toyota Avensis is more efficient and better to drive than before
The Toyota Avensis is a spacious saloon car that boasts excellent practicality, reliability and efficiency. It is a rival to models like the Ford Mondeo, Volkswagen Passat and Vauxhall Insignia. It may not be a particularly stylish car, but it’s not bad looking. A facelift in 2011 saw Toyota’s new family face grafted on to the front end. It features angular headlights, and a low-slung badge in the middle of a gently sloping grille. It won’t turn heads, but then few saloon cars do, these days – and, unless it’s parked next to the very attractive Mazda 6, its design won’t be shown up by any of its rivals. The cabin is similarly inoffensive – it’s simply laid out, functional and not unattractive. A leather-trimmed steering wheel comes as standard and the dash is finished in soft-touch plastics. The Avensis will never be a driver’s car, thanks to the lifeless steering, but it’s perfectly capable on the road, and comfort and refinement levels are excellent, making it a very decent motorway cruiser. The engine line-up is strong, too, offering a good mix of power and economy. Thanks to its competitive price, low running costs, comfort, efficiency and reliability, the Avensis is a favourite of company car owners and taxi drivers alike. It’s certainly an accomplished machine, but it’s one you buy with your head rather than your heart.
Our choice: Avensis 2.0 D-4D TR 4dr
Late in 2011 the Toyota Avensis was facelifted and that brought with it a sharper front end with narrower headlights and a stretched grille. That means the Avensis now looks much like the rest of Toyota's line-up but it's still not exactly a head-turner. The cabin may not be the last word in luxury but it’s still a great place to spend time and – as of late 2011 – comes with a leather steering wheel as standard.
Toyota also managed to improve the way the Avensis drives with the late 2011 facelift, with changes to the noise isolation and suspension. The result is a car that not only handles better, but is also more comfortable on the motorway and very quiet on the move too. Drivers will be left a little isolated from the action though, with lifeless steering. The best all-round engine is the 2.0-litre diesel engine with 124bhp, which has been made more fuel efficient and allows the Avensis to accelerate from 0-62mph in 9.7 seconds.
Toyota has an excellent reputation for reliability and the Avensis boasts a strong track record in this department. It comes with a five-year warranty, which should help to alleviate any doubts that may have been created by the high profile recalls that have hit Toyota’s brand in recent years. The Avensis came 86th in our Driver Power Top 100, while Toyota came ninth out of 32 brands. The car hasn’t been crash-tested since 2009 – and the tests have become more demanding since then – but Euro NCAP gave it a five star safety rating, with a 90 per cent mark in the adult occupants category, 86 per cent for child occupants, 53 per cent for pedestrian protection, and 86 per cent in the safety assist category.
In comparison to other cars in this class the Avensis boasts a pretty spacious load area. In the boot there is 509 litres of space and dedicated one touch controls allow the rear seats to fold down for a maximum of 1,320 litres. The cabin is large enough to comfortably seat four tall adults as well. Soft-touch material on the dashboard and a redesigned centre console make everything a little easier to use.
Getting CO2 emissions to under 120g/km has big implications for company car drivers so Toyota has worked hard to get emissions in the 2.0-litre diesel engine down from 139g/km to 119g/km. The petrol engines both emit over 150g/km and the larger 2.2-litre diesel is nowhere near as fuel-efficient either.