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. While new pretenders to the segment such as the Hyundai i40 and Kia Optima both offer good-looking, well-equipped alternatives.

Toyota's new Avensis range comprises a saloon and estate, badged the Toyota Avensis Tourer, with a 1.8-litre petrol engine and 1.6-litre or 2.0-litre D-4D diesel making the engine line-up.

The 1.8-litre petrol is available with a manual or automatic gearbox, while the diesels only come with a conventional six-speed manual.

Trim levels consist of entry-level Active, Business Edition, Business Edition 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.

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Explore the Toyota range

Driven this week

  • Honda Civic
    Car review
    21 April 2017
    Honda’s 10th-generation Civic hatchback goes global — but is that good news?
  • Toyota Prius Plug-in
    First Drive
    21 April 2017
    Second-generation Toyota Prius Plug-in hybrid gets a bigger battery with new 39-mile electric range, more tech and styling updates, but it's expensive
  • Seat Ateca 1.4 EcoTSI 150 DSG
    First Drive
    20 April 2017
    Addition of DSG automatic gearbox in this top-spec model doesn't show the Ateca small SUV in its best light
  • Isuzu D-Max Blade
    First Drive
    20 April 2017
    Isuzu treats its rough-and-ready D-Max pick-up truck to a new engine, revised looks, better hauling ability and more equipment
  • MG ZS
    First Drive
    19 April 2017
    We drive MG’s upcoming Ford Ecosport rival in China-spec; good looks and a smart interior bode well for the UK version