A few years ago the large family car sector, dominated by sales to business users, was packed with cars like the Toyota Avensis that were staid, reliable transport that was as utterly forgettable as it was trustworthy, practical and efficient.
Today, things are different. Customers, no longer impressed by transport that’s merely spacious and durable, and realising they can find all the practicality they need in the more desirable form of a small SUV or compact executive car instead, have prompted makers of D-segment cars to attempt to turn up the style and prestige wicks.
With some success, it must be said. The Ford Mondeo is all but the measure of an Audi A4 inside, the Vauxhall Insignia has the measure of most saloons from the outside, and Nissan neatly bypassed the whole D-segment thing altogether with the Qashqai.
And so to the Avensis. Is it as worthy as ever, or has Toyota managed to inject the substance and style it wants – needs – to have added to one of the market’s traditionally less imaginative contenders?
The range comprises a saloon and estate, with a 1.8 Valvematic petrol engine and 2.0 or 2.2 D-4D diesel engines.
Trim levels run from T2 to TR (plus a self-explanatory TR Nav), through T4 to top-of-the-range T-Spirit.
It is available as a saloon or Tourer (estate), the latter taking the same engine and trim level line-ups.