Toyota Avensis (2009 – 2015) Review

Toyota Avensis (2009 – 2015) At A Glance

Honest John Overall Rating
The Toyota Avensis is brilliant at being mediocre, and we say that with a large dollop of affection.

+Hugely practical and robust, refined and quiet on the move, excellent diesel engines, especially the 2.0 D-4D, very reliable.

-Lacklustre image, dull styling inside and out, cabin lacks panache, saloon only.

Insurance Groups are between 15–25
On average it achieves 82% of the official MPG figure

The Toyota Avensis is a saloon or estate car for non-car people. For folk who favour reliability, dependability and practicality over performance, good looks and glamour. There’s nothing wrong with that. In many ways, it’s part of the car’s appeal. Launched in 2009, the British-built Avensis is Toyota’s answer to the Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Insignia. Designed with company car drivers in mind, the Avensis is a car that keeps fleet managers happy and owners away from filling stations. You don’t dream of owning an Avensis, but it’s a car that won’t keep you awake at night through worry.

Precision handling, sharp steering, bold styling and punchy performance. These are just some of the things we’d say about the Toyota GT86. The Toyota Avensis is a different kettle of carp.

It’s easy to be sniffy about a car like the Toyota Avensis. It’s a car for your mates who aren’t into cars. A vehicle for taxi operators. Something you might end up with at the airport rental desk.

We think it deserves more respect. Let’s consider the positives.

It’s practical. The Avensis Tourer (estate) is positively vast, while the saloon isn’t lacking in the luggage capacity department. It will also seat five adults in comfort, which isn’t something you can say about every family car you might be looking at.

Then there’s the comfort. Almost everything about the Avensis has been configured to offer a smooth and relaxed driving experience. The seats are cosseting. The suspension is supple. Wind, road and engine noise are suppressed. Excuse the cliche, but the cabin in the Toyota Avensis is a nice place to be.

We should also point to the diesel engines, which are smooth, efficient, punchy and refined. The petrol engines are less impressive, but opt for one of the diesels and you’ll spend very little time filling up with fuel. The 2.0-litre D-4D is our particular favourite, offering decent poke to go with its excellent fuel economy.

Other positives? Well, the cabin is well screwed together, equipment levels are generous (especially if you avoid the entry-level model) and the Avensis has got a central storage bin large enough to have keen potholers queuing at the door. It’s really big, big, big… big. That’s meant to be an echo gag, but it doesn’t really work in words.

So much to like, so what are the drawbacks? Although design is subjective, we’re not sure the styling is anything to write home about. The cabin is about as exciting as a funeral parlour waiting room. Finally, the driving experience is dull enough to send you to sleep.

If you’re not bothered about any of the above, then you should add the Toyota Avensis to your shortlist. The earliest examples are available for the equivalent of a deposit on a PCP contract for a car that’s likely to be less reliable, less comfortable and less spacious. An Avensis diesel will exceed 200,000 miles with ease, if it has been maintained as per the service schedule.

You’ll spend more for a saloon or estate with a premium badge. Either that or you’ll have to put up with something older and tattier for the same price. Which means the smart money goes on the reliable, dependable and practical Avensis. You know it makes sense.

Ask Honest John

Are used BMW 3 Series really expensive to own?
"I read about the BMW 3 Series being reliable, but servicing, repairs and - I imagine - insurance is a lot more expensive than for non-premium cars. I see lots of these high-mileage, diesel cars looking nice with good MoT history and an affordable price tag. Which cars would be a good alternative? Thanks a lot."
On the one hand, the BMW 3 Series is popular with police forces because of its indestructibility and high-mile capability. On the other hand, an older 3 Series (diesel models in particular) will require a fair bit of regular maintenance and yes, this will be costlier than in a mainstream choice. Parts will be a bit pricier than something like a Volkswagen Passat and servicing (especially at a main dealer) could be more expensive. Insurance will depend on factors like your age and driving experience. If you want a practical estate car that'll be cheap to run, look at something like a Toyota Avensis or Honda Accord.
Answered by Andrew Brady
What large, petrol models would you suggest for a young family with children?
"A relative of mine is interested in buying a 2012 Volkswagen Passat Bluemotion 2.0 TDI DSG with 69,000 miles for under £5000. What other large, petrol, automatic models would you suggest for a young family with children? I'm concerned about the DSG. Is this DSG gearbox one of the ones that will cause a lot of problems? A petrol car would be more suitable than diesel for 10,000 miles a year use. On a 2012 model with 69,000 miles, will expenditure on the car increase a lot from now on? Thank you for your assistance. "
I think you're right to have your concerns. The DSG gearbox used with the 2.0 TDI engine is more reliable than that paired with small petrol engines, but it's still at an age that it could go expensively wrong. You're right that a petrol would be more suited to 10k a year, especially at this end of the market. We'd recommend a Honda Accord. They're pretty rare (most buyers of cars like this want a premium badge) but very reliable. Also consider a Toyota Avensis – they're nothing special to drive, but ultra-dependable. Also consider SUVs like a Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4.
Answered by Andrew Brady
I have £3000 to spend on a daily driver. What's your advice?
"I'm about to be made redundant, which means handing back the company car. I'll be using the redundancy cash to pick up a sub £3000 car until I find another job. This price point is awash with cars, from modern Ford Mondeo/Focus type cars with 150,000+ miles and the odd MoT failure, most of which started off as ex fleet. Mixed in, I keep finding some interesting Mercedes. One that caught my eye was a 2004 Mercedes E320 with two owners, full detailed service history, never failed an MOT. Body work immaculate as well. As a rule of thumb, I'll be going over the history with a fine tooth comb. But should I be looking at a modern motor with high mileage or something older with similar mileage which has clearly been loved? Thanks."
If you have less than £3000 to spend on a daily driver, I'd strongly advise against buying an old E-Class. At 16-years-old, it'll be worn out and in need of significant work (and money) to keep it on the road. What's more, being a Mercedes-Benz, all of the servicing and repair costs will be relative to its price when new (£30k) and not a vehicle that's valued under £3000. If you need a reliable and efficient used car, I'd recommend buying a Honda Civic or a Toyota Avensis.
Answered by Dan Powell
What comfortable car is best for doing a lot of miles?
"I do a lot of miles (35k+ year on mixed roads) around the UK. I currently have a 2006 Audi A6 Avant and I'm looking to change for something comfortable for around £5000. Any suggestions?"
You'll want a diesel for 35k miles a year but any diesel at this price has the potential to produce some hefty bills. How about a Toyota Avensis? It's not an exciting choice but it'll be extremely dependable. If you'd prefer something a bit more upmarket, a Volvo S60 or S80 could be a very comfortable choice.
Answered by Andrew Brady
More Questions

What does a Toyota Avensis (2009 – 2015) cost?