Toyota Avensis Tourer: 9,156 miles

Final REPORT: Sharp to look at, easy to live with... and that’s just the car! Estate is a great load carrier, too, as our family man can testify

  • The general quality and comfort of the cabin impress, but it’s the little extras that make all the difference. The electric controls on the driver’s seat mean it’s simple to achieve the perfect position. There is a host of different directions to move, plus lumbar support. Even better, you can save two preset options – ideal when I’m six foot two inches tall and my wife is five foot two.
  • The automatic electric handbrake is a gizmo too far. It’s irritating and confusing. Otherwise, the only minus is the Toyota’s styling. It’s not ugly – in fact, there is nothing unsightly about it. But it simply doesn’t have any wow factor to go with its incredibly practical cabin.

This car is so comfortable, it feels like Sunday best! That’s how my family described the Toyota Avensis Tourer when I took up the keys for its last few months with the magazine in July. It’s no slight on the Peugeot Partner Tepee we had before, but the practical Toyota feels as if it’s from a different class.

From the moment I sat in the luxurious comfort of its electrically adjustable and heated leather seats, I knew I was in for something different. Behind the wheel, its powerful diesel engine provides more refinement at cruising speeds than I’m used to, and after the tall-riding Peugeot, the steering feels very responsive – even Mrs Wilson noticed the difference. In all the years I’ve worked for Auto Express, she has never enthused about a car... until now!

Okay, I’m well aware that an £8k price increase makes direct comparison unfair, but having spent time running some of the more affordable cars on the long-term fleet, you really get to appreciate where the extra goes.

I’m not only referring to all the kit that the Toyota’s higher price brings – this includes a reversing camera, cruise control, Bluetooth, sat-nav – but also the little details that make day-to-day life in the car more bearable. Our normally long, tortuous, six-hour-plus journey to a holiday cottage in North Yorkshire provided a perfect example.

The Tourer is so blessed with space and comfort that it didn’t really matter how long it took to get there. The kids had room for duvets, pillows and games.They could drift off to sleep, then play without asking: ‘Are we there yet?’

Further back, the vast boot swallowed the usual load of self-catering kit, leaving enough room for a change of coats and shoes to cope with the unpredictable Dales weather.

At least we can depend on the Toyota’s 148bhp 2.2-litre diesel engine. It has delivered a steady 41.2mpg economy over the last few months, which is very impressive. It’s refreshing to be on holiday and not have to keep one eye on the fuel gauge – despite covering more than 800 miles, we used only two-and-a-half tanks of diesel.

One feature that did stand out was the built-in sat-nav (£1,470). It led us 30 miles to the nearest accident and emergency department, after a nasty slip on some wet rocks. The five-hour wait in casualty would usually drive our two children mad, but we decided to sit in the Toyota. With the seats folded, we pretended we were camping in our own ‘tent car’! 

Extra Info

The Avensis has been quietly winning over members of the Auto Express office. With its spacious boot, economy, performance and long kit tally, it’s been employed to move house twice, and has been on a couple of holidays, too!

There are more capable, handsome and rewarding large family cars on the market, but the Toyota is a very strong choice – especially in the practical Tourer guise.

While many of its rivals now put style ahead of space, it is a traditional load carrier – and all the better for it.

Ross Pinnock Road test editor

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