Comfort, reliability and solid engineering

Introduction

Although sales are slipping in the UK for cars of this size and type, the Toyota Avensis is one of the most worthy on the market for those drivers looking for the essentials. It’s not designed to appeal to the heart as much as it is to the head, with lots of space for luggage and passengers, ample useful technology and intelligent technology. It’s built to offer fuss-free everyday transport for families and business users.

 

Body Styles: 4dr Saloon & 5dr Estate Seats: 5 MRP from £18,835 - £29,140 

 

Did you know? Reliable used Avensis models often appear in the classifieds with well over 200,000 miles on the clock.

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Verdict:★★★★★★★☆☆☆(7.3/10)

The Avensis is built to do a job rather than act as a driveway ornament, despite Toyota’s striking styling (that doesn’t necessarily suit the car especially well). By focusing on high-quality seats, suspension and infotainment technology, the company has built a superb place to spend extended periods of time. Families will love the spacious cabin, drivers will appreciate the smooth engines and the comfortable ride is good for everyone.

It’s ageing, lacks a premium badge, can’t compete with German brands for desirability and little details such as the interior door handles are inexplicably poor quality versus the rest of the car, but the Avensis is an excellent and somewhat underrated everyday companion.

Design & Exterior

★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆ (5/10)

Interior & Comfort

★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

Technology & Connectivity

★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

Performance & Handling

★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆ (5/10)

Safety Features

★★★★★★★★★☆ (9/10)

Spec & Trim Levels

★★★★★★★★★☆ (9/10)

Running Costs & Fuel Economy

★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

Pricing

★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

 

2017 Toyota Avensis

We Like

Excellent ride quality

Fabulous equipment specifications

Lots of safety technology

We Don't Like

Large wheels spoil ride

Creaky plastic door handles

Overcomplicated styling

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Design & Exterior:★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆ (5/10)

2017 Toyota Avensis

The danger of having such a striking, angular, distinctive brand styling theme is that such an extreme look won’t suit every car in the range. Imagine Aston Martin building a supermini of its own, with the famously good-looking sports car styling and that grille, but on 15in wheels with a hatchback boot. It just wouldn’t work.

Toyota’s Yaris and Aygo look great with their sharp, dynamic lines, but the effect isn’t ideal for the Avensis. It’s a taller, more sensible car that tends to look narrower than it is, and smoother, fuller, more rounded styling would suit it better. At the time, the 2003-2014 models were called boring and too conservative, but today they look OK while the current model seems a bit confused over its own identity. It feels as though the quiet guy from IT has suddenly appeared wearing a classic ninja outfit and bandana.

Higher trim grades come with LED headlights, which add an upmarket detail to the looks, and the larger alloy wheel options on certain versions also help to give a little more overall cohesion. The entry-level car with its steel wheels and plastic wheel trims is one to avoid if style is important, and the Touring Sports estate is arguably the better-looking body style.

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Interior & Comfort:★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

2017 Toyota Avensis

Toyota has clearly spent a big chunk of the budget on the suspension, which is unusually supple at low speeds, managing speed bumps and manhole covers with grace, particularly on wheels no larger than the 17in fitment. The 18in ones may look great on Design and Excel models, but they do introduce an element of harshness to some potholes. On smaller wheels the Avensis is incredibly comfortable.

The seats deserve thanks, as well. They are shaped for good back and thigh support, and padded to be all-day comfortable. Some versions have more adjustment than others, but every Avensis has a strong standard level of comfort.

The interior is on the plan side, but it has a certain classiness at the same time. There is an elegance to its simplicity and logic. It’s not likely to win any cutting-edge design awards, but nor is anyone likely to be confused or frustrated by it. The one disappointment in the cabin is the door handles, which are made from a plastic that creaks cheaply and even twists slightly as you grip it to open the door. It’s a bizarre oversight.

Practicality

Naturally, the saloon is less practical than the Touring Sports estate, but even so, its boot is long and wide; more than big enough for short family trips away without buggies or big prams. The estate is better suited to families with young children, with its large tailgate opening upwards to reveal a broad aperture through which larger accessories or even the occasional large household appliance will drop into without breaking a sweat. Neither has as much boot space as a Skoda Octavia, but they have enough.

Cupholders that can swallow broad cups and bottles, plastics that can take a reasonable beating before scratching badly and one-touch electric windows all round are other standard practicality boosts for the Avensis. There’s no transmission tunnel, either, making life much better for the middle rear passenger.

Boot space

Min: 509 litres (Estate 543 litres)
Max: 1320 litres (Estate 1609 litres) 

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Technology & Connectivity:★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

2017 Toyota Avensis

The range of technology on the Avensis is impressive, even in the mid-range. It’s not the quantity, necessarily, but the intelligence involved at the selection stage. Everything on the Avensis is a genuinely useful feature that drivers really will use. Every car has at least six speakers, AM and FM radio, a USB port and AUX jack, plus air conditioning, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, cruise control, one-touch electric windows, audio controls on the steering wheel and much more.

Step up just one trim grade from entry level and you’re greeted with an eight-inch infotainment display with Toyota’s Touch 2 software and satellite navigation. Not only that, it also has DAB radio, WiFi connectivity, dual-zone climate control, a reversing camera and power-adjustable lumbar support for the driver.

It’s a list of luxuries that doesn’t change much until the very top trim grade, which has 10 speakers, voice recognition, electrically-adjustable front seats with memory function and heating. Half-leather seats are introduced in the middle of the range, upgrading to full leather at the top.

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Performance & Handling:★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆ (5/10)

2017 Toyota Avensis

The Avensis is not built for speed or dynamics. In fairness, Toyota’s latest upgrades to the stiffness of the bodyshell and the quality of the damping make the car stable and composed through turns, even on rough surfaces. It’s just not exciting in the least while it’s doing it. The steering is accurate and it does have a little more feedback than previous models made do with, but it’s not as incisive as a BMW 3 Series’.

Of the three engines, the lower-powered 1.6-litre diesel is underpowered for a car like this. It has more torque than the 1.8-litre petrol, but the latter’s smoothness and more linear responses make up for it. It’s the best choice for a life of predominantly short journeys. The 2.0-litre diesel, borrowed, like the 1.6, from BMW, is easily best all-rounder. It’s most at home on the motorway and has good, strong pull through the gears, picking up cleanly from impressively low revs. It’s far from fast, but few drivers will really need more.

Recommended engine: 2.0 D-4D

0-62 MPH

9.5 seconds

Fuel economy

58.9-62.8 mpg

Emissions

119-124g/km

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Safety Features:★★★★★★★★★☆ (9/10)

2017 Toyota Avensis

Right from the cheapest model, safety has been made a prime concern. Admirably, the Pre-Collision System is standard even on the base car, using a camera and laser to detect and alert to possible collisions, hitting the brakes if the driver doesn’t. On a simpler but equally welcome note, a temporary spare wheel is standard.

In the middle and high parts of the range there’s a mighty complement of active technologies keeping the car out of trouble. As well as the range-wide ABS, Brake Assist, Hill-Start Assist and advanced stability control, there are brighter LED headlights, cornering lights, Lane Departure Alert and Road Sign Assist to help identify speed limits.

Euro NCAP rates the Avensis highly, with a superb 93 per cent for adult occupant protection, 85 per cent for child occupant protection and a strong performance for safety assist systems, with 81 per cent. Overall, the Avensis easily achieves five stars.

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Specs and Trim Levels:★★★★★★★★★☆ (9/10)

2017 Toyota Avensis

Colours

Unsurprisingly for a car that has two trim levels featuring the word ‘business’, the range of colours is muted, sober and professional. Pure White, the free option, does the styling no favours at all, more or less forcing buyers to upgrade. Tyrol Silver is one of seven metallic shades covering Aspen Grey, Decuma Grey, Eclipse Black, Platinum Bronze, Deep Titanium and Orion Blue. Toyota really knows how to apply paint, though, and the darker colours look spectacular in direct sunlight. Deep Titanium has a dual metallic fleck that looks brilliant.

On top of the metallics there are two pearlescent shades. Pearl White is best avoided on this car, but Tokyo Red works well with the Avensis’ larger wheel options.

Trim Levels

There are five trim levels, starting with Active. It looks cheap because it rides on steel wheels, but it has plenty of useful standard equipment. It barely makes up any of the sales volume in the UK, though, because the styling doesn’t fit what buyers of this kind of car want.

Much better is Business Edition, which adds a huge amount of technology, plus 17in wheels to improve the look. It feels a lot more like a premium product than the Active thanks to the Toyota Touch 2 interface with navigation.

Design is a new trim grade that takes Business Edition and adds 20-spoke 18in wheels, privacy glass and half-leather, half-Alcantara seats. At a glance it looks like an absolute top-spec model, but it costs significantly less. Business Edition Plus takes the Business Edition as its base but adds LED headlights, different 17in alloys and the Design model’s leather and Alcantara seats.

Excel is the range-topper, with full leather seats and lots of luxury. The front seats are heated and electrically adjustable, it gets 18in alloy wheels like the Design model and it has adaptive front LED headlights that turn with you as you negotiate corners, giving you greater visibility down the road. Every trim level is well-stocked, but from Business Edition upwards the Avensis stands out.

Size and Dimensions

The Avensis is about par for length, perhaps a little narrower than average, and the estate doesn’t add much to the overall length. The towing weight seems a bit on the light side, though: be warned, caravanners.

Length

4710 mm (Estate 4780 mm)

Width

1810 mm

Height

1480 mm

Max towing weight without brake

500kg

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Running Costs & Fuel Economy:★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

2017 Toyota Avensis

On a steady motorway journey the diesel Avensis can break the 60mpg barrier, potentially doing so even including getting to and from the M-road itself. It needs to be driven with care and plenty of forward planning to get the best results, but they are possible. The smaller 1.6-litre diesel does no better because it needs to work harder to keep the same pace.

The petrol engine is smooth; one of the most refined petrol engines on sale today. What it lacks in torque it makes up for in surprising efficiency, clocking up a 40mpg average easily. On longer trips it can get beyond 50mpg. The Avensis is almost never driven by boy racers but its insurance prices are nevertheless hiked because it does suffer from being a popular car with sales reps, who are more prone to driving fast and not necessarily paying enough attention.

Reliability and servicing

Toyota’s reliability is always very good, mixing it with sister company Lexus and Honda for the outright global best in that regard. No car model is completely free of faults but the Avensis has a good record compared to rival cars, with many of the best looked-after examples passing 250,000 miles in the hands of dedicated and loving owners.

Minor

12 months or 10,000 miles - £180 est

Major

24 months or 20,000 miles - £330 est

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Pricing:★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

2017 Toyota Avensis

While it has a lot of standard equipment, Toyota isn’t giving it away for free. The Active saloon starts at £18,835, which is a lot for a car on steel wheels, and it’s a jump of more than £3000 to get to Business Edition, which, with the cheaper petrol engine, costs £22,065. The better diesel is £23,695.

To move to Business Edition Plus involves an extra £1800, while the cheapest Excel is £25,705. These prices are all for saloons, and choosing the more practical Touring Sports estate attracts an uncommonly hefty £1805 premium.

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Recommendations

New Parents

2.0 Diesel Business Edition Touring Sports – spacious, safe and packed with useful technology

Luxury Seeker

1.8 Petrol Excel saloon – a classic saloon look with full leather seats and plenty of gadgets

Cost Conscious

1.8 Petrol Active – a very safe and spacious car for the money, and makes a practical long-term investment

Rivals

Ford Mondeo

Large footprint guarantees passenger space and the Sync 3 voice control is a boost for busy drivers

Volkswagen Passat

High-quality interiors and exceptional refinement, plus familiar, efficient engines and great boot space

Peugeot 508

Smooth, well-equipped and comfortable, the 508 is understated but a very effective all-rounder

Hyundai i40

A long, high-mileage warranty is good news for new buyers, and is also an efficient motorway cruiser

Vauxhall Insignia

Popular saloon-styled hatchback is spacious and affordable, with good technology fitted as standard

What others say

Auto Express

“Thanks to its competitive price, low running costs, comfort, efficiency and reliability, the Avensis remains a favourite of company car owners and taxi drivers alike.”

What Car?

While it may not be the most thrilling car in its class to drive, it is keenly priced. It also has the benefit of a five-year, 100,000-mile warranty that makes this an appealing long-term prospect.”

 

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2017 Toyota Avensis