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The Toyota Avensis is adequate but generally underwhelming family transport

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.

The large family car sector used to be dominated by reliable but forgettable cars

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 Nissan 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.

Toyota Avensis 2015-2018 news

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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.

Toyota Avensis 2015-2018 First drives