Toyota Avensis (2014 - 2018) used car review

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By Jonathan Crouch

Introduction

For more than two decades, Toyota's Avensis provided customers in the medium range Mondeo segment with a safe, conservative set of wheels. This post-2015 facelifted MK3 version was the last to be produced before this model ceased selling in this country. The Avensis has never been most exciting choice but it's always been up there as one of the most sensible ones. This further improved third generation version continued that tradition, but added extra technology and a dash of much-needed style. Let's check it out as a used buy.

Models

5dr family saloon / 'Touring Sports' estate (1.8 VVTi petrol / 1.6 D-4D, 2.0 D-4D)

History

Toyota has its own idea of what a medium range Mondeo-sized model should be. It isn't shared by most motoring hacks but it is appreciated by the business people who spend many miles in this car - the company's third generation Avensis model. In 2015, this car was substantially improved with smarter styling, a classier cabin, stronger safety, more equipment and extra efficiency.

This MK3 model was originally launched way back in 2009 and by 2015, had already been facelifted once - in 2012. For this second update, Toyota smartened the looks, added extra refinement and tweaked the ride and handling package to sharpen things up on the twisty stuff. Nothing too extreme of course. Avensis folk wouldn't appreciate that. Just enough to meet the class standard so that there was less to distract the attention from the sensible stuff this car does so well. It wasn't enough to prevent sales from fizzling out and the Avensis was quietly withdrawn from the UK market in 2018.

What You Get

The Avensis has never really prioritised style and sportiness but since that's what current customers in the Mondeo medium range segment seem to want, Toyota gave its flagship model a more sharp-suited look in this revised post-2015 facelifted MK3 model guise. The whole approach was based around what the brand called 'Energetic Elegance' - the idea being to give the car a more dynamic and prestigious feel. And at the wheel? Well it's much nicer than the pre-facelift car, certainly. In the previous version, you felt like you were in an Auris family hatch that'd been super-sized to sit in the class above. This car in contrast fees like a properly plush medium range model, particularly in an upper-spec guise with part-alcantara upholstery. As usual with a car of this kind, the centre of the fascia is dominated by a colour multi-media display.

Anything this set-up can't tell you will probably be covered by the smart 4.2-inch TFT screen built into the centre of the instrument binnacle and placed between two deeply recessed gauges. Move to the rear seat and you'll find that accommodation is respectable by the standards of the Mondeo class. Yes, there are wider cabins in this sector from this period, but one of the advantages of this one is that accommodating a third adult here is easier because the centre part of the floor is pretty flat, so legroom isn't restricted. Out back, boot remains the same size as before, despite this revised model's increase in overall length. This means you get 509-litres of capacity in the saloon variant.

What You Pay

The Avensis' lack of a strong reputation coupled with a solid record of reliability means that bargains can be found. We'll quote values based on the saloon; the Estate values at around £500 more. Prices for this facelift model start at around £8,100 for a 1.6-litre D-4D diesel with 'Active' trim on a '14-plate, with values rising to around £14,100 for one of the last of the '19-plate cars. The 1.8 petrol version starts at around £8,200 on a '14-plate in 'Active' trim, with values rising to around £15,000 for a '19-plate car. For the 2.0 D-4D, expect to pay around £13,200 upwards for a '16-plate 'Design'-spec model, with values rising to around £19,400 for one of the last '19-plate cars.

What to Look For

Very little goes wrong with the Toyota Avensis but our ownership survey did throw up a few issues. One owner complained of leaking seals around the rear light clusters which allowed water ingress into the boot and over time filled up the spare wheel well and soaked the boot floor. Another owner experienced noises from the boot area when nearly full of fuel, clutch burning in reverse, an occasional 'knock' in the steering while turning, a loose brake pedal, a noisy clutch pedal and a driver's seat belt rattle. Look out for all these things. And look for the usual parking scuffs and scraped alloy wheels. Check the wear on tyres for signs of suspension misalignment and check that the car has been regularly oil serviced. Otherwise, there's not really much else to worry about. The interiors have proven to be hardwearing.

Replacement Parts

(approx based on a 1.6 D-4D four-door ex VAT) An air filter is priced in the £38 bracket. An oil filter costs in the £22 bracket. On to brakes. A set of front pads tend to retail in the £45 bracket; for rear pads, it's around £30 for a set. Front brake discs retail at around £65. Rear brake discs cost in the £45 bracket. A headlamp bulb is around £47. Wiper blades can cost from around £16.

On the Road

Here's a car designed very much for the people who will drive it. Those who have to cover long distances quickly and use the time while they do effectively. To meet those needs, this Avensis has always been primarily tuned for highway ride comfort - and was again in this form. As for secondary road handling, well tweaks to the suspension and steering of this revised model brought small improvements but this still isn't the car you'd choose in this segment from this period if you were after a dynamic drive. It's very much though, the model you'd choose for long distances: improved refinement and even more supportive seats see to that.

As for engines, well Toyota didn't want to offer its hybrid technology in this car, but it did provide buyers with a downsized diesel, a 110bhp 1.6-litre D-4D unit co-developed with BMW. If funds permit, we'd prefer the extra pulling power of the 141bhp 2.0-litre D-4D diesel, a car capable of 62mph in 9.5s en route to 124mph, along with potential efficiency that sees this derivative manage 62.8mpg on the combined cycle and 119g/km of CO2. A single petrol version continued to be offered, the 145bhp 1.8-litre V-matic, this the only variant in the range offered with the option of automatic transmission.

Overall

Toyota spent £26 million, commissioned 368,000 man hours and changed more than 1,000 parts in its efforts to force this post-2015 MK3 Avensis model back into class contention. Could it be more exciting, both to look at and to drive? Well yes of course, but you can see why Toyota weren't keen to go too far and upset the legions of customers attracted by the sensible charms of previous Avensis models. And the brand knew at this updated model's launch that the medium range market is closely fought and highly populated, with buying decisions often coming down to the smallest detail.

This much improved third generation model got more of these kinds of details right - the quality cabin, the extra refinement, the slicker multi-media system. Which makes it a lot harder to ignore when you know that it comes at a price that's going to represent good value on the used market. In short, it may not be the car in this class you might have dreamed about but tick all the boxes and you could well find yourself deciding it to be the one you actually need.

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