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.

Toyota's new Avensis range comprises a saloon and estate, badged the Toyota Avensis Tourer, with a 1.8-litre Valvematic petrol engine and 2.0-litre or 2.2-litre D-4D diesel engines.

A six-speed manual is offered on all models, but the 1.8-litre petrol is available with Toyota's 'M/D S', an automated manual, while the 2.2-litre diesel can be specified with a conventional six-speed automatic.

Trim levels consist of entry-level Edition, Active, Select, Icon and Icon Plus, and range-topping Excel.

So, does the Toyota Avensis now have the required substance and style it needs to compete with its rivals? Let's find out.

Top 5 Family saloons

  • The Ford Mondeo is a well developed all-rounder that shines with its handling and finish

    Ford Mondeo 2007-2014

    1
  • 15 million VW Passats have been sold in 100 countries since its launch in 1973

    Volkswagen Passat

    2
  • New Mazda 6 largely carries over the styling of the striking Takeri concept that previewed it

    Mazda 6

    3
  • Skoda Octavia
    The Octavia name dates back to 1959

    Skoda Octavia

    4
  • Hyundai i40
    Family-size Hyundai takes on the Mondeo, Superb and Insignia

    Hyundai i40

    5

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