- Good levels of standard kit
- One of the safest cars in class
- Impeccable reliability record
- Not the most engaging drive
- Dull aesthetics
- CVT gearbox is poor
Well-built saloon is a solid all-rounder, but fails to excite
The Toyota Avensis is the Japanese manufacturers entry into a heavily congested family saloon market. With such fierce competition from the Ford Mondeo, the Volkswagen Passat, and the Skoda Superb, the Avensis faces an uphill struggle to stand out. First introduced into the UK market in 1997, the Avensis is now in its third generation. Popular amongst motorway drivers and private hire taxi companies, the Avensis offers exceptional reliability, and solid build quality. It might not be quite as well-rounded as some of its rivals, but it’s a decent offering by Toyota.
A minor facelift in 2015 introduced a new diesel engine into the range, as well as featuring new taillights, and updated grilles.
Solid build quality but a little dated
With so many high quality interiors offered by rivals, it’s disappointing to see that Toyota has played it safe with the Avensis’ cabin. It’s well built, but materials aren’t of the same quality that you see in a Passat, and it’s nowhere near as attractive as the Mondeo’s.
If there’s one particular area that can be criticised about the Avensis it’s in its interior. The dashboard design just feels a little bit dated. Without doubt it’s well-constructed, and it’s built to last, but compared to rivals it just doesn’t feel very contemporary. Soft-touch plastics are used throughout the majority of the cabin, though harder plastics can be found if you look close enough. Controls are easy to use and well-damped, but overall it’s just a little bit dull.
Boot space in the Avensis is also pretty disappointing. It’s not that the boot is tiny, it just isn’t as big as its rivals. With 509 litres of space, it falls way behind the Ford Mondeo (541 litres), the Skoda Superb (565 litres), and even the Vauxhall Insignia (520 litres). There’s still enough room for a couple of medium-sized suitcases, or a big family shop, but other competitors offer greater practicality.
Spec levels in the Avensis are quite impressive. The entry-level Active trim comes as standard with air-con, cruise control, front electric windows, and Bluetooth connectivity. Upgrade to the Business Edition trim and you can add dual-zone climate control, rear electric windows, and an infotainment system that adds a DAB radio, sat-nav, and a touch-screen colour display. This trim level is the where the best value is to be had.
Overall the interior of the Avensis is practical without being special. Everything is pretty solidly built, but it lacks the finesse of a VW, the style of a Mondeo, and the space of a Superb. Kit levels are thankfully quite generous, especially if you go for the Business Edition trim.
Great on motorways, not so great through the corners
The Avensis is a pretty solid car to drive. It’s a well-considered package that’s suited almost exclusively to motorway driving, though it struggles when pushed to its limits through corners, and it’s certainly not the most exciting driving experience.
Suspension and Chassis
Compared to the high benchmark set by the Ford Mondeo, the driving experience offered by the Avensis lags some way behind. It’s a pretty assured car in almost every situation, but you just can’t push it through tight country roads like you could with a Mondeo. Steering is assured, though it offers little in the way of feedback, and there’s enough grip, but it struggles with understeer.
Refinement is one area in which the Avensis impresses. The Avensis is designed to be a pleasant motorway cruiser, and it achieves just that. There’s very little in the way of road and wind noise, and it copes with rough surfaces reasonably well, though the worst of the potholes shudder through to the cabin, especially at low speeds. It’s pretty obvious that the chassis and suspension are set up with long distance driving in mind, and it’s hard to argue that it doesn’t succeed.
Gearbox options on the Avensis come in two guises. All models throughout the range come as standard with a 6-speed manual transmission, that’s pretty sharp, and actually positive to use. The CVT automatic transmission that is available with higher priced diesel models however is unimpressive. It hinders the driving experience, takes some while getting used to, and always seems to be on a different page to what you are.
Good solid engine options
When it comes to deciding how you want to power your Avensis, you’ve got the usual two options: petrol, or diesel. There’s value to be had throughout the range, though there’s no true sporting version, nor is there a genuine eco-friendly contender.
If power is your primary concern, you’re probably going to be a little disappointed with the engines on offer in the Avensis. The quickest model in the range is the diesel-powered 2.2 litre D4-D. This engine produces 150bhp, and will get you from 0-62mph in 8.9 seconds. It’s far from quick, but it’s perfectly serviceable for long motorway drives.
The standout option for those concerned with the welfare of the planet is the the 1.8 litre electric hybrid. With just 79g/km of C02, you’ll certainly be doing your bit, and with up to 76.3mpg, you’ll save yourself money on fuel. That said, real-life fuel efficiency tests yielded results that fall way below that mark.
The most eco-friendly engine in the Avensis range doesn’t quite match those on offer from Ford or Volkswagen. Nevertheless, the 1.6 litre diesel offering produces only 108g/km of C02 emissions, which is in the lowest road tax band. It’s sure to be a popular choice for company car buyers. This engine also happens to be the most economical, making it great for the money savers. With fuel consumption at an impressive 67.3mpg, there’s money to be saved on both fuel and tax.
Overall the engines on offer in the Avensis range are all pretty solid. There’s no stand-out option, though the low-powered 1.6 litre diesel is sure to be the most popular for both family and business buyers.
Full Marks in NCAP safety tests, solid standard safety kit
Like nearly every car in its class, the Avensis easily achieved the highest possible 5-star NCAP safety rating. With scores of 90% in adult safety, 86% in child safety, and 53% for pedestrian protection, the Avensis is one of the safest saloon cars on the market. There’s also a huge amount of airbags placed strategically around the cabin, automatic high-beam system, lane-departure warning, and road sign assistance as standard. Toyota is a brand that takes safety seriously, and the Avensis is a prime example of its success.
Good value, so long as you avoid the cost of new-car depreciation
The Toyota Avensis is a surprisingly cheap car to run. This obviously varies from model to model, but broadly speaking, C02 levels remain low throughout the range. Fuel consumption is also pretty impressive, with even petrol-powered motors achieving upwards of 40mpg. The 1.6 litre diesel is where the best value lies, so it’s little wonder that it’s so popular with company car drivers.
Insurance wise, this again depends upon which model and trim you choose to go for. The cheapest car to insure in the range is the T2 1.6 V-matic, which finds itself in group 15, with the most expensive being the T4 2.2 D-4D (180) which is in group 25. For a car in this class it’s actually quite reasonable to insure.
Depreciation is one area that particularly affects the Avensis. With first year depreciation as high as 40%, you’re better off opting for an inspected used equivalent.
The Avensis is a considered attempt at a successful saloon car from Toyota. It might not be the most impressive or inspiring of cars, but it’s certainly well put together. And with Toyota’s impeccable reliability record, it’s sure to last a long time. If you’re not a particularly keen driver, the Avensis is a great option to consider
Buying a used Toyota Avensis online with Carspring
If you’re after a used Toyota Avensis for sale, it can all feel like a bit of an ordeal. What, with long days spent around gigantic car supermarkets, or time spent trawling through classified websites, looking for that ideal used Avensis. Carspring makes it simple. Buy your next used Toyota Avensis online with the touch of a button. Simply decide on the model you want and choose how you want to pay.
Looking to finance your used Avensis? Not a problem, we work with our carefully selected finance partners to ensure that, if you’re paying monthly for your used Toyota Avensis, you know you’re getting the best rates. What’s more, with any Carspring used Avensis, you also get our 14-day money-back guarantee and 6 months’ free Carspring Warranty. Plus, you don’t have to leave your home. We’ll deliver your used Toyota to you at a time and place of your choice.
*This is an approximate figure based on the range of the car’s list price and the AA’s average 1st-year depreciation cost of 40%.