The Avensis Tourer is a large estate that’s proven itself to be a sensible and practical choice for those seeking a comfortable long-distance cruiser.
Unfortunately it struggles to get many positive reviews. The conservative styling and detached driving experience left some feeling underwhelmed, and it’s been noted that the boot isn’t the best in its class.
Although the volume of boot space available disappointed some, journalists praised it’s build quality and comfort, saying they are something that few cars in its class can do better – all agree that the ride is very good and that it makes a fine long distance cruiser.
It will certainly appeal to those who only want to go in straight lines up and down motorways in quiet, refined comfort, and the diesel engines are frugal, but those looking for the same economy but a bit of fun on the B-roads may feel that the Avensis doesn’t quite deliver.
The above problems could well be solved with the launch of the revised Avensis that will go on sale after the 2015 Geneva Motor Show in March.
The interior of the Avensis Tourer will please those potential owners who are looking for an efficient and ergonomic dashboard and nicely finished controls.
Critics raved about the switches and dials, saying that they can be operated slickly and precisely, and are likely to do so for many years to come.
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.
It’s spacious and comfortable for people, with plenty of room for the driver and those in the back, however the reason that people will buy the Tourer instead of the standard Avensis is for the boot.
Unfortunately, despite the loading area being flat, it is also narrow and shallow for the car’s size, although there is a rail system fitted as standard to help secure your loads.
The Avensis Tourer is praised for its ride and handling, cosseting the driver and passengers in a cocoon-like atmosphere.
As a result, the Avensis makes a fine long distance cruiser and the supple suspension ensures that it makes a decent effort to be a companion on more twisty roads too, but ultimately reviewers say that it doesn’t quite match the drive of a rival like the Ford Mondeo estate.
In fairness, it is a family hauler not a sports car, but any sportiness it might have is blunted somewhat by the CVT (scooter-style) automatic gearbox.
This also gives it a more detached drive, so most motoring journalists say you are better off sticking with the six-speed manual gearbox.
You can choose an Avensis Tourer with a petrol or diesel engine, although there is only the single petrol option. All engines are powerful enough to handle the bulk of the car, although some are a little noisy under pressure, but all settle to a quiet, refined state once cruising.
The 1.8-litre petrol unit produces nearly 150hp, and it might be called the “sporting” option, although as it isn’t very economical you would need to be quite averse to diesel to choose it.
The diesel engines are the best choice for drivers who want to waft around and benefit from the better fuel economy, and the 2.0-litre diesel provides the best combination of power and economy, although with only 124hp it’s slightly down on the mid-range grunt that rivals can offer.
Those wanting this in-gear acceleration may want to look at the 2.2-litre diesel, available in either 148hp or 175hp format. It’s more refined and more powerful, and is widely thought to be the better engine of the two despite not being as economical.
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 Tourer from standstill to 60mph in 9.7 seconds (10.7 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 42.8mpg (42.2mpg in the auto) and the CO2 emissions are 153g/km (154g/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 the official fuel consumption figures show that it will return up to 60mpg 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 10 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 9.2 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 too, 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 up early. It works well, as you can rely on the torque to provide a reasonable amount of performance at low revs.
The Toyota Avensis saloon achieved a five star rating, and although the Tourer has yet to be tested, there’s no reason to doubt it’ll also achieve this rating if and when it’s tested.
Seven airbags, electronic stability control and active front head restraints that help reduce the likelihood of whiplash injury are standard across the range.
Additional tech available include a system that uses sensors to predict a collision and apply the brakes for the driver, and another system which uses the same sensors to activate the seat belt pre-tensioners if it deems a crash inevitable.
The Avensis Tourer’s base model is generously equipped and has the fairly gutsy 1.8-litre petrol engine, which isn’t the most economical but would suit low mileage usage.
For the more economical diesel, the asking price of around £20,000 for a basic model may look quite reasonable when compared to rivals like the Volkswagen Passat estate and Mazda 6 estate, both of which start at over £21,000 for respective basic petrol options.
However, the Ford Mondeo is a cheaper option all around, starting at around £17,000. It’s more fun to drive, and is a superior load-lugger with a cavernous boot, so it’s probably the biggest rival to the Avensis Tourer.
For buyers it’s likely to be the fun-factor that decides it; those who only want to cruise quietly and comfortably up and down the motorway may value the durable, well-built feel of the Avensis’s interior, but anyone seeking something that’ll make then grin on the B-roads may want the Ford’s superior chassis.
Many say that the Tourer is a better-looking car than the standard Avensis, although this will, of course, depend on the individual.
What the Tourer does do is to build on the existing car’s appeal and add the ability to carry large loads at little extra cost.
If you are looking for a quiet, safe, reliable and refined car to transport your family about then the Avensis will do the job very well indeed. It also feels sturdy, has an excellent reliablity record and is likely to feel the same even after being driven to the moon and back.
If however you are looking an estate car to carry very large loads around, then others will do the job better.