£18,585 - £27,085 Price range
46 - 67 MPG
The Toyota Avensis is a sensible saloon that struggles to get a lot of good reviews.
Journalists praise its build quality and comfort, something that few cars in its class can do better. The conservative styling and detached driving experience left some feeling less positive, although all critics said that the ride was very good and that it makes a fine long-distance cruiser.
Cheapest to buy: 1.8-litre Active petrol
Cheapest to run: 1.6-litre Business Edition diesel
Fastest model: 2.0-litre Excel diesel
Most popular: 1.8-litre Business Edition petrol
The interior of the Avensis is a “master-class in clear, logical layout” so few potential owners will be disappointed if they are looking for an efficient and ergonomic dashboard and controls. The experts raved about the switches and other controls, saying that they operate with a “well-oiled precision” and are likely to do so for many years to come.
It’s spacious and comfortable too, with plenty of room for the driver and those in the back. It is a bit dull in there though, so you might want to look elsewhere if you are looking for a car that makes you feel special when you climb into it.
Don’t expect opulent luxury, and the Avensis won’t disappoint. It’s a very practical and functional interior, but it hasn’t got anything going for it to get too excited about.
The Avensis is praised for its ride and handling, cosseting the driver and passengers in a cocoon-like atmosphere. The Avensis makes a fine long distance cruiser and the supple suspension ensures that it is an entertaining companion on more twisty roads too; it isn’t a sports car though, so don’t expect it to handle like one.
It does give a somewhat detached drive, though, and others are more involving for the driver. The CVT automatic gearbox blunts the driving experience too much in the opinion of most motoring journalists and so you are better off sticking with the manual gear change.
The petrol-engined Avensis is the car for the sporting driver but it isn’t very economical so the diesel engines are the best choice for drivers who want to waft around and benefit from the better fuel economy.
The 1.8-litre petrol is a competent enough engine, but you feel a car of this size and weight requires something a little bigger, as this one needs to be pushed hard to get anything meaningful out of it.
The diesels come in both 2.2 and 2.0-litre versions, with the 2.2-litre diesel engine being widely thought to be the better engine of the two, as it is more refined and more powerful, although not as economical. All provide enough power to endow the Avensis with decent cruising and overtaking ability.
The 1.8-litre, four-cylinder Valvematic petrol engine develops 145bhp and 180lb ft. There are few reviews of it but those that are there say that it is a rev-happy engine that will suit the performance-oriented driver according to the motoring experts.
If you’re feeling frisky it will send the Avensis from standstill to 60mph in 9.4 seconds (10.4 in the automatic) and will continue to march on to a top speed of over 120mph. It’s a brisk car then, rather than a downright fast one.
The fuel consumption is 43.5mpg (42.2mpg in the auto) and the CO2 emissions are 152g/km (153g/km), both of which should be achievable in everyday use. Overall this engine will suit a driver who wants decent performance and the smoothness of a petrol engine and is happy to accept that the fuel consumption won’t be as low as a diesel.
The 2-litre diesel engine is said to be a bit noisy in use, possibly due to the manual gearbox having to be used hard to keep the car flowing. It is an economical engine though, with Toyota claiming that in the official fuel consumption figures it will return up to 62.8mpg in mixed driving. The Avensis is a big car though and we’d expect owners to be struggling to match that in normal use; 50+mpg is more likely, which is still very good for such a capacious car.
The engine develops 124bhp and 310lb ft, which is enough to reach a top speed of 124mph after passing 62mph in 9.7 seconds. It is not a performance engine then and nor is it especially refined; the 2.2-litre engine is said to be much better so buyers should perhaps consider that as an option if they want diesel power.
The 2.2-litre diesel engine is smooth and capable without ever being exciting, developing 148bhp and 250lb ft of torque. The top speed of 131mph and 0-60mph time of 8.6 seconds (in manual gearbox form; the automatic takes an extra half a second or so) are bang on the money for this class of car - but not exceptional.
The fuel consumption is decent without being impressive, with official figures of 51.4mpg for the manual and about ten per cent less for the automatic. There is no stop/start system, just a light on the dashboard that encourages you to change gears in an efficient way. It works well, as you can rely on the torque to provide a reasonable amount of performance at low revs.
It scored a full five-star rating for overall safety with Euro NCAP in its crash testing regime, with the individual rating being particularly impressive.
The Avensis scored 86% for child safety and safety assist, 90% for adult safety, and even an impressive 53% for pedestrian safety in crash testing.
With more airbags than you can shake a stick at and all-manner of standard and optional safety features, the Avensis really does have the safety of you and your passengers well and truly taken care of.
The Avensis isn’t an economy car, it’s a sturdy, reliable, well-executed car that’ll probably feel the same in 300,000 miles of hard use; value for money depends on how you define it.
The experts seem to agree that the CVT automatic gearbox isn’t the best choice for the Avensis and suggest that drivers stick to the six-speed manual. The automatic is notably less efficient and costs more.
If you are planning to keep your Avensis for a long time, then it would probably represent value over the long-term thanks to its reasonable residuals and almost legendary reliability.
If you are looking for a quiet, safe, reliable and refined car to transport you about, then the Toyota Avensis will do the job very well indeed. If, however, you are looking for an involving car to drive that makes you feel a bit special, then you might consider looking elsewhere.