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.

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