Toyota Avensis Tourer: 7,215 Miles

Third report: It’s a tale of three Toyotas, as we rate our diesel estate against other variants in the family car range.

  • It’s not the prettiest car on our long-term fleet, but the Toyota has to be one of the biggest. In fact, that Slippery shape hides its girth well and, if you need to move a group of people and their luggage in comfort, not much comes close – the boot swallows masses of gear. For me, the supportive driving seat and generous kit make the Tourer a great mile muncher.
  • The switch for the electronic handbrake works counter-intuitively – you push it to activate and pull it to release. But worse than that is its automatic function. It’s meant to deactivate when you pull away, yet if you accelerate in a hurry, it can stay on, so the revs rise and you go nowhere!

Choosing the perfect new car can be a bit of a minefield – and the confusion doesn’t end once you’ve made the decision.

For example, our long-term Avensis is available with five engines. And while I’ve grown to love the 148bhp 2.2-litre turbodiesel in our model, I couldn’t help wondering what the other units were like. So, I’ve been busy trying some of the alternative options.

The 2.0-litre Valvematic petrol version was in the office for our road test of turbocharged versus normally aspirated cars in May (Issue 1,065). Its 150bhp non-turbo unit majors on clean-burning efficiency and smooth power delivery, and I couldn’t wait to see how it compared.

After living with our diesel Avensis for a few months, though, the 2.0 petrol fell short on low-down shove.

The torquey nature of the D-4D is great for keeping up with the fast-paced traffic on my daily commute.

I even stalled the petrol version a couple of times when moving off from a standstill – which I like to put down to a lack of low-down power rather than poor driving technique!

Next came the 178bhp 2.2-litre D-CAT diesel flagship. Would I feel short-changed by our 148bhp model afterwards?

Not really. Although there’s a big difference in power on paper, on the road you don’t really notice it. The D-CAT didn’t feel much quicker, making our lower-powered unit a better all-rounder, with a flatter torque curve and wider powerband.

For once, less is more.

Our Toyota’s smooth, flexible power delivery continues to impress. It never feels short of pace, and returns a respectable 41.5mpg. While the six-speed box isn’t the slickest unit, its tall gearing makes for relaxed motorway driving, helped by the car’s cruise control.

Of course, it hasn’t all been plain sailing for our big estate. It picked up a puncture from an errant nail at a race circuit one weekend, although that was fixed for free by my friendly garage. On another occasion, a small stone chipped the windscreen, which was repaired for a wallet-friendly£8.33 by Autoglass. You can still see a mark, but we’re happy in the knowledge that it won’t suddenly crack and spread.

What’s more, we have yet to find a package too big for our Toyota to accommodate. So far, it has taken alloy wheels, exhibition kit, Ikea purchases and even a house move in its stride. However, some of the interior trim on the dashboard has scratched rather easily, which is a shame considering how much hard work the rest of the car has survived.

I still have trouble pairing my mobile with the Bluetooth system. Having read the manual thoroughly and tried other handsets, though, I’m sure the problem is down to the phone, rather than the Toyota.

After car care giant Meguiar’s gave the Avensis its full detailing treatment (Issue 1,064), even the quirky styling has grown on me. But I still can’t work out whether the people who stare at the car while I’m in traffic are doing so with admiration or incredulity. In any case, having tried some of the other engines, I’m convinced that our 2.2-litre diesel is the best of the bunch.

Extra Info

Few customers get the chance to try as many engine options as Graeme has when deciding on their next car. Dealers usually struggle to cover the entire range, as they can only run a limited number of demonstrators. But it really pays to do your homework – even if it means visiting various franchises to test drive all the models. Having sampled as many of the choices as Graeme, I agree that our 2.2-litre diesel is the pick of the line-up.

Ross Pinnock

Road test editor

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