The Avensis, whether 4dr saloon or 5dr Tourer, is powered either by one petrol engine – a 148bhp 1.8-litre with 6sp manual or Multidrive auto transmission, or one of two diesel engines – a 6sp manual 124bhp 2-litre or a 148bhp 2.2-litre with either 6sp manual or auto transmission. Performance figures range from 0-62 in 10.7secs to 8.9secs, with top speeds from 124 to 130mph. My 6sp manual 124bhp 2.0 D-4D test car (0-62 in 9.7secs, 124mph max) performed adequately. It was fine for pottering about, it coped well with hills and it cruised along the motorway very competently, but it didn’t feel particularly eager and needed a good stoking for hurried overtaking.
The 2012 Avensis employs the same basic chassis and underpinnings as the previous model, but improvements have been made to the front subframe, rear wishbones, rear shock absorbers and roll bars for better ride comfort and handling. The electric power steering has also been revised for improved feel and a sharper response. Without driving old and new back-to-back it’s hard to know how much better the latest model is in these respects, but even though I’d not driven an Avensis in about eight months, the steering definitely did feel that bit more direct and engaging, while ride comfort remains good.
Part of Toyota’s new Keen Look design direction involves the interior where, although looking pretty similar at first glance to the old Avensis, much effort has gone into subtly improving the touch and feel of frequently handled parts such as the switchgear, consoles and door grips. In the JD Power 2011 customer satisfaction survey of 28 manufacturers, Toyota came a credible 10th equal scoring 80.5% against an industry average of 79.4%. In the 2011 survey of 107 models, the Avensis came 39th equal with 81%, again a little above the same 79.4% average. So, not perfect scores, but you’d be hard pressed to find fault, and if you did it could take years.
According to Toyota, “The New Avensis shares the world class performance of the previous model, which was awarded the top five-star rating in the 2009 Euro NCAP crash test programme”. However, as you might expect, the new Avensis moves the game on with features like a radar-controlled pre-crash safety system that comes with the optional safety package that also includes Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Keep Assist and Lane Departure Warning. The top-of-range Spirit versions are equipped with High Intensity Discharge headlights and an Adaptive Front Lighting system, while all versions come as standard with ABS, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, Brake Assist, Traction Control and Vehicle Stability Control.
No real changes here from the old model, so, whether a booted 4dr saloon or 5dr Tourer, there’s good space and comfort for passengers in both front and rear, although rear seat headroom isn’t overly generous in the saloon. Behind the saloon’s small boot opening there’s a pretty reasonable 509 litres of loadspace, while the Tourer has 543 litres, or more if you pile stuff up toward the roof. With the rear seats folded the Tourer’s capacity increases to 1,609 litres (or more) but, due to its sleek exterior styling, its no substitute for a van.
Toyota’s Touch & Go multimedia/satnav system comes as standard on all 32 variants bar the entry-level T2s, and the T Spirits in which feature the new Touch & Go Plus system. The latter includes features such as email access, advanced traffic data, improved mapping, voice recognition and more. Fuel consumption and CO2 emissions are also much improved – my 2.0 D-4D test car, for example, boasts 62.8mpg combined along with just 119g/km, while OTR prices start at £18,450, rising to £28,885. Viewed from the side or rear the 2012 Avensis could easily be mistaken for the previous model, but its revised front end styling along with a plethora of other upgrades and refinements ensure that this latest version is a class front runner.