Toyota Avensis (2009 - 2015)

4
reviewed by Anonymous on 29 September 2021
1
reviewed by Anonymous on 28 July 2021
4
reviewed by Anonymous on 23 July 2021
5
reviewed by Anonymous on 22 July 2021
5
reviewed by Keith Stanyer on 8 March 2021
4
reviewed by Anonymous on 9 December 2019
5
reviewed by Anonymous on 25 November 2018
5
reviewed by Roger Willis on 25 July 2017
4
reviewed by Mr D Og on 26 February 2017
2
reviewed by John501 on 24 August 2016
5
reviewed by T44RXX on 16 June 2016
4
reviewed by dannydan on 16 February 2016
5
reviewed by maddog23 on 10 February 2016
4

TR 1.8 V-matic M-drive S 5dr Auto Estate

reviewed by steelghost on 21 August 2015
4
Overall rating
3
How it drives
4
Fuel economy
4
Tax/Insurance/Warranty costs
5
Cost of maintenance and repairs
4
Experience at the dealership
5
How practical it is
5
How you rate the manufacturer
5
Overall reliability

Excellent family transport, but never going to set the pulse racing

We bought our Avensis “Sports Tourer” in TR spec, second hand at just over two years old. Although we're a one car family we don't cover a huge amount of miles and do quite a lot of local trips, so the petrol engine made far more sense than diesel, what with DPFs, EGRs, turbos, etc.

Previous car was a 1.6 CRDI Hyundai i30, which was comfortable, economical and had been flawlessly reliable during our five years of ownership - we wanted something similar, but with more room for a growing family.

My wife and I both drive the car (her more than me for short trips, but me more for long trips) so it needed to be as far as possible, a jack of all trades. We test drove a manual petrol estate at our local dealer, and then (because they didn't have one in an Avensis) a Verso with the 1.8 / CVT combination. She'd never driven an auto before so this was a revelation to her, and because there is virtually no fuel economy penalty with the CVT, we decided that this was the variant for us.

We didn't choose the colour but it looks smart (to these eyes) in TR trim and "Eclipse Black". First indications are that the laser cut finish on the alloy wheels may not be all that robust, though.

Interior

It's not futuristic like a Honda Civic, nor, not does it feel especially plush. However, it is comfortable and everything feels solidly made. All the switchgear works positively, and is clearly labelled (with the exception of the bonnet release which is a bit of a pain to find and get at)
A special mention should go to the "Optitron" instrument panel which is a model of clarity, easily the best instruments I have ever used. The fuel gauge is very "pessimistic"; if I fill up when it indicates almost empty, I’ll be putting 45-48 litres of fuel into the 60 litre tank. At least I'm unlikely to run out.

The seats are comfortable and easily adjusted (as is the steering wheel for both rake and reach) although they lack much bolstering.

Whilst we've not gone very far in it (~ 3000 miles in 4 months) our two year old has done his best to endurance test the interior, and this far it's stood up to it admirably. The seat fabric warrants a mention for being very straightforward to get mud, food etc out of.

The 'stereo' sounds pretty good, with all the inputs you could want - I use a USB stick filled with MP3s, but you can plug in an iDevice, plays CD-Rs burned with MP3s, stream over bluetooth, etc etc. It's easy to pair your phone and calls made with the hands free sound good to both parties. The sat-nav isn't bad but map updates are pricey (I won't be bothering - Google Maps or a standalone smartphone app do the job much more economically (and you can still get the voice announcements through the car speakers). One particular annoyance is even though the manual states that it should return to whatever mode it was in when you last switched off the ignition, it usually defaults to the USB memory stick or CD player, regardless of what it was doing last.

The screen also shows the picture from the reversing camera, which I was initially sceptical about but has proven to be a handy aid to parking the car. It helpfully increases the gain on the camera in the dark, so the picture is noisy but still useable.

In the estate version the rear windows and tailgate are "blacked out" which does seem to help the car stay a little cooler on hot days, but it makes the back of the car a bit of a dim place to be. This is something common to all the estate versions of this car, so it's worth checking to see if it bothers you (or your kids!)



The internal lights are bright and have good coverage (this was one of the minor niggles about the i30, the interior illumination was not very effective).

Automatic headlamps and wipers are both OK, the car is a little reluctant to put on the sidelights, but the wipers are pretty good on the second-least sensitive setting. (I’d still happily trade the automation for the same intermittent wiper settings as I had in my 1996 Passat - default interval of 8s, but anything up to 30s easily and intuitively set via the stalk, no twisty switches needed!)

The ventilation system works well - the A/C gets cold quickly (and coming from a diesel car, the heater gets warm nice and quickly, too!). If I was being picky I'd say the dials could be a little easier to grasp. That said, I mostly leave it on one setting and don't adjust it much, so it's no real hardship.

The boot is a good size, with space for a full size spare (although ours has a space saver) and also room to store the tonneau cover. On the subject of the cover, I found it pretty straightforward to remove and replace (maybe this is something they updated in the 2011 facelift, as HJ criticises it in his original review as being "fingernail breaking"). The seats fold down easily and provide a level load deck. The boot light is a bit feeble, in contrast to the cabin lights - although it's pretty average for a boot light generally. There are load anchor points on the floor (although covered in ours, since we bought the luggage deck cover to make it easier to sweep out dust, sand and whatever else gets deposited in the boot). It would be helpful if there were some hooks in the sides of the boot to keep eg shopping bags upright, a la Skoda, but you just have to put them as far forward as you can.

Ownership

Fuel economy is good for what it is (large petrol auto) - we typically get around 32mpg, but that is on a diet of fairly short trips and stop start driving. On a good run, late 40s (and even early 50s if you're prepared to take things very gently!) is achievable.

Nothing has gone wrong, fallen off or stopped working - and it feels like it’ll stay that way.
We've yet to have it serviced - because it's still under warranty we'll take it to the local dealership so I'll update this review after that.

Driving

Having driven manual diesel engines for the last ten years, coming to this car was a complete change. First of all, the engine. HJ wasn't kidding when he said this thing is almost inaudible when idling. From inside the car, you really can't tell it's running other than the RPM needle not being at zero. Even on the move, it's smooth and unobtrusive; above 3500RPM there's a slight snarl that builds as you get towards the redline, but it's still very civilised.

Our Avensis is the Multidrive S variant which is a CVT automatic. Reading the reviews around the web, this seems to be a 'Marmite' transmission - you either love it or hate it.

We live on the edge of suburbia and so much of our driving is done within the 30 limit (or at a push 40 in some place) and in the ever present traffic. In such conditions, the MD-S combined with the 1.8 Valvematic is a revelation. Because of the CVT there are no perceptible gear changes under light to moderate acceleration - it's smooth and because the engine has plenty of torque at relatively low revs, you don't get much in the way of CVT droning - helped by the car being generally smooth and quiet. For sure, the engine note is not the same as you would get driving either a manual or a conventional auto, but you soon get used to it and learn to read it in the same way you do for any car. In more demanding acceleration situations (approx 2/3rds throttle or above) the CVT simulates a normal automatic, building revs before moving to another “gear” ie fixed ratio position. If you prod the gas from a cruising speed, the kickdown is fairly quick (and more importantly, consistent), but if you want a crisper response then the "Sport" button pre-selects a lower ratio and sharpens the throttle response a bit. It's useful for overtakes or if you're merging into fast moving traffic, but if you're looking for a sporting drive, this is not the car (and certainly not the gearbox) for you.

Because the 'box can so readily move the ratio, this means the tallest ratio can be taller than you'd see in a manual, so at an indicated 70mph the engine is turning at just over 2000rpm, which makes for very relaxed cruising. Speaking of motorway work the cruise control is steady, accurate and easily controlled through its own stalk on the steering column.

Steering is light (a little too light for me, when at motorway speeds) but accurate, if lacking in 'feel' - it made me realise just how good a car the i30 was! It's a doddle to manoeuvre though, which is helpful given the size of the car.

Suspension is noticeably softer than our i30, which even on 17 inch wheels makes it much more comfortable on the broken surfaces of suburbia, but there's a good bit of roll into corners. Ideally I'd trade a little bit of comfort for body control here.

Brakes are a little over-assisted for my taste, but once your muscle memory has adjusted to the pedal feel and travel they are fine, and there's certainly no lack of stopping power. As others have said - I'm not sure why they a) fitted an EPB but then b) put the switch next to the steering wheel. We only use it as an actual parking brake though (it doesn't auto release on the CVT variant - presumably it would just fight the auto ‘creep’?) so it's no bother once you've learnt where it is and which way to push / pull it. I’d still prefer a normal one though - no need to dazzle drivers behind you at junctions, and mechanically far simpler and hence less likely to fail, even in a Toyota.

Overall this is a car that you don't "press on" in - it encourages you to drive in a relaxed manner, and enjoy the peace and quiet (assuming the kids are cooperating!). It offers good equipment levels for the money, plenty of space and an easy and comfortable drive. If that's what you want, or you're willing to compromise on the driving experience for other reasons, then it's a great car. If you're a "keen" driver, or have care for the image your car projects to others- this is probably not a car to put on your short-list. Professional reviewers have accused this car of having no character, but I'd liken it more to a faithful and obedient family dog.

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4
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About this car

Price£17,700–£29,495
Road TaxC–H
MPG40.9–62.8 mpg
Real MPG81.8%

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