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Toyota Avensis: Test Drive Review

Date: 16 January 2012   |   Author: Jack Carfrae

Category: Upper medium
P11D price: £21,470
Key rival: Ford Mondeo

For a facelifted model, the Toyota Avensis actually looks quite a bit different to its predecessor.

Granted, it's no major overhaul, but details such as shapelier headlamps, a large trapezoid lower grille and daytime running lights make for more of a change than your average mid-life nip and tuck.

Minor alterations have also occurred inside, including redesigned front seats, new upholstery and a minor restyle of the centre console. New materials have been used across the dashboard and the rest of the cabin, which allegedly improve quality and ergonomics, but they are still not up to Ford or Volkswagen levels, to which the Avensis remains a little tacky in comparison.

The differences run further than skin deep, the most worthwhile of which is a revised 2.0-litre D-4D engine emitting 119g/km - 15% less than the outgoing model - and capable of an average 61.4mpg.

Keen to shed the latter part of its dependable but dull image, Toyota has worked on the suspension, steering and other areas in an effort to make the Avensis a more complete rival to the Ford Mondeo and other more engaging competitors. Ride comfort has improved as a result, but little else has, so it remains the segment's sensible but bland choice.

A curious move by Toyota is its decision to buck the trend for stop/start systems by choosing not to fit one to the Avensis. It claims that the addition of such a system would not lower the emissions sufficiently to allow for any further tax incentives, so the extra cost of fitment was not worthwhile.

There's sound logic behind the move, as the mid-range TR model - aimed squarely at fleets and expected to account for two-thirds of all sales - now has more equipment but costs no more than its equivalent predecessor. Automatic headlights and wipers, an auto dimming rear view mirror, 17-inch alloy wheels and Toyota's Touch & Go touch-screen satnav are now standard on TR spec cars, in addition to what was already a competitive equipment list.

Keen to capitalise on its locality for UK customers (the Avensis is built in Burnaston, Derbyshire) Toyota is promising that the longest possible lead time for British buyers is an ambitious eight to 10 weeks.

It also declared a 79% delivery time satisfaction figure from its customers, which it says is the best of any direct rival.

Factor in the firm's five-year 100,000-mile warranty, strong reliability reputation and reasonable P11D costs and in terms of value this Avensis is at least as good, if not better, than its forebear. However, as much sense as it makes, it's still hard to recommend over class leaders such as the Ford Mondeo or even budget alternatives like the Hyundai i40 and Skoda Superb, all of which are considerably more desirable.

Toyota Avensis 2.0 D-4D
P11D price£21,470
Model price range£18,450-£27,210
Residual value 33.54%
Depreciation: £14,270
Fuel: £6080
Service maintenance
and repair
Vehicle excise duty£115
National insurance£1422
Cost per mile49.6p
Fuel consumption61.4mpg
CO2 (tax) 119g/km (13%)
BIK 20/40% per month£46.5/£93
Service interval12,500 miles
Insurance (1-50)group 20E
Warranty5yrs/100,000 mls
Boot space509 litres
Engine size/power1998cc/126hp
Top speed/0-62mph124mph/9.7secs
On sale December 2011
VerdictAn improvement but
still too clinical to be
truly desirable


An improvement but still too clinical to be truly desirable