Toyota Avensis (2015-2019) Review
A sensible and reliable choice, the Toyota Avensis is overlooked by drivers who want a bit more character to their car
Strengths & weaknesses
- Track record of reliability
- Long warranty
- Practical interior
- Only available as a saloon
- Uninspiring design
- Not involving to drive
In the business and family car world, the Toyota Avensis is a byword for competence and reliability. With a five-year warranty, a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating and an efficient 1.6-litre diesel engine, it's a sensible choice. The Avensis is also quiet and comfortable which should appeal to the high-mileage drivers the car is aimed at.
But - like many Toyotas of this era - the Avensis is shaded by more prestigious, appealing, or exciting alternatives.
The Volkswagen Passat, for example, is just as sensible, but has an interior with higher-quality, less plasticky materials. The Mazda 6 looks more exciting and is nimbler in corners too, while the Ford Mondeo brings comfort, responsive steering and vast choice.
The new Toyota Camry, which replaced the Avensis in early 2019, is more distinctive, with a more modern interior.
Overlook the lack of tinsel, and the Avensis is a solid car that's good value. Diesel engines meet Euro 6 emissions standards, so they won't face inner-city pollution charges in London and Birmingham - just don't get confused with the similar-looking previous-generation model, which was sold until 2015, with engines that don't meet the standard.
Whether you buy the four-door saloon car, with its protruding boot, or the larger-capacity estate version, both types of Avensis are roomy. Unlike most of its rivals,the Avensis has no ridge that runs between the rear seats, so the floor is flat, and a third rear-seat passenger can get comfortable. There are plenty of cubbyholes dotted around the cabin, too.
The saloon’s boot is large but aced by the likes of the Passat’s. At least the Toyota’s 60:40-split back seat folds flat for longer loads. If you think you’ll need to carry anything bulkier, you should check out the Avensis estate
The interior won’t win any prizes for design but it is tough and well appointed. Even basic Active versions have those business essentials including air-conditioning, cruise control and electric windows, and, outside, alloy wheels. Even better-equipped is the Business edition, with reversing camera, a digital radio and sat-nav.
|5 years / 100,000 miles
|£20 to £145
Best Toyota Avensis for...
Best for Economy – Toyota Avensis 1.6 D Active
Officially, this model’s 1.6 diesel engine returns over 67mpg. Don’t expect electrifying performance or alloy wheels in Active trim - it's cheap, though.
Best for Families – Toyota Avensis 1.6 D Business Edition
The Business Edition Avensis brings sat nav and a digital radio, and useful safety tech including traffic sign recognition and lane departure warning.
Best for Performance – Toyota Avensis 2.0 D Business Edition
It may be 0.1 seconds slower from 0-62mph than the 1.8 petrol but when you’re overtaking in the 40-60mph speed range, you’ll find the 2.0-litre diesel is the punchier engine, able to serve up greater thrust, sooner.
One to Avoid – Toyota Avensis 2.0 D Excel
A great engine spoiled by an over-the-top, expensive specification. Top-range models are rarely a good choice and the Avensis Excel is no exception. Buy Business Edition and spend a little extra on the Skyview panoramic sunroof instead.
- April 2015 Revised Toyota Avensis launched in UK.
- May 2016 Toyota Touch 2 touchscreen upgraded with improved menu system and sat-nav, where fitted.
- December 2017 New Tokyo Red colour option offered, along with new 18in alloy wheels.
- March 2019 Avensis replaced by the new Toyota Camry.
Toyota Avensis Engines
1.8, 1.6 D, 2.0 D
There are just three and most customers will opt for one of the two diesels. The petrol looks economical on paper and it’s quite quick but road tax of £130 compared with the 1.6 diesel’s £20, plus that engine’s superior economy, will take the shine off it for business users. If, however, you’re a private buyer doing few miles, it could be the way to go since it’s £600 cheaper, trim for trim. It’s not available in top-spec Excel trim, though.
The 1.8 automatic is the only auto in the range. It doesn’t make too much of a dent on economy but it’s a constantly variable transmission, or CVT, which can drone a bit and always sounds like it’s over-revving.
The 1.6 diesel is a little on the slow side but very economical . In Business Edition trim it’s a good choice for value-conscious families and undemanding drivers.
The 2.0 diesel is our pick of the line-up for its blend of strong performance and reasonable economy. It’s not as quick on paper as the 1.8 petrol but in the real world, it’s quicker at overtaking thanks to its superior, mid-range pulling power. It’s the only engine offered in bells-and-whistles Excel trim, too.
Official fuel economy
46.3 - 47.1mpg
9.4 - 10.4sec
61.4 - 62.8mpg
Toyota Avensis Trims
Active, Business Edition, Business Edition Plus, Excel
Active trim has steel wheels with plastic covers and manual rear windows, which is disappointing. Otherwise, it’s packed with convenience features including power mirrors, cruise control, air-conditioning, a height-adjustable driver’s seat and a 60:40-split rear seat.
Business Edition brings genuinely desirable features such as 17in alloy wheels, automatic headlights and windscreen wipers, a reversing camera, dual-zone air-con, a digital radio and sat nav.
Business Edition Plus merely adds fancier alloy wheels and push-button start. Excel brings larger alloy wheels, adaptive headlights and electric front seats, which serve only to raise the car’s price out of its natural zone. One popular option across all trims is the Skyview panoramic sunroof, which brightens the car’s otherwise dull cabin.
Toyota Avensis Reliability and warranty
Toyotas have a reputation for being reliable. The Avensis is no exception, ranking 38 out of 150 models in Auto Express magazine’s Driver Power 2016 owner satisfaction survey. Other Toyota models finished higher but for a car that is typically driven by business people notching up high mileages, it’s an impressive showing.
In terms of build quality, the picture is less rosy with the Avensis charting at 74. Indeed, the interior features some disappointingly hard and flimsy plastics, where rivals are careful to use high-quality, soft-touch materials. That said, switches and controls do feel tough and up to the job, so it’s an impression that may not be wholly accurate.
Toyota’s five years or 100,000 miles warranty, whichever comes first, certainly shows the company has faith in the car’s quality and reliability. Most rivals offer just three years.