Toyota Avensis Tourer with big car comforts

You could almost swear that the Toyota Avensis Tourer came off the same production line as the Honda Accord Tourer, so similar is their appearance. Both have an estate car profile with a rising window line that gives a tapering glasshouse towards the rear.

But, whereas the Honda had a more classy interior, to my eyes the Toyota is a not entirely happy marriage of textures and finishes. The black brushed aluminium effect on the centre of the fascia is distinctive, but not entirely successful.

Toyota Avensis Tourer

Looks are arguably not unimportant, if the rest of interior works. There is plenty of space for people and for luggage. The driving position is good, with soft and comfortable seats. In a touch of up-market theatre, the Toyota Avensis Tourer T-Spirit test car has one of those trick steering wheels that motors itself out of the way to make getting in and out easier.

I really liked the touch-screen on the dashboard that not only works the navigation, but also the radio and other settings. But this good news is tempered by some substantial niggles.

The parking brake and the starter button are completely obscured by the steering wheel spokes. It took me about 20 seconds of searching to even find them tucked away round the back. Once i knew where it was, I still found the parking brake button awkward to find and awkward to use, tucked away under the dashboard on the left of the steering column. Time and again I found my finger prodding the wrong switch.

Toyota Avensis interior

I’m not a fan of electric handbrakes on manual gearbox cars at the best of times, but the difficult location of this one made it even less user friendly.

Sadly the starter and parking brake buttons are not the only quirks in the controls. Down just above the driver’s ankle is a pod with three admittedly-minor switches for the AFS, ESP and fuel filler flap.

We have become used to what I call “paranoid unlocking”, where only the driver’s door unlocks when you first press the plipper. Well, on the Toyota both front doors opened, whether you used the keyless entry or the plipper, but the rear doors needed a second press to unlock.

I could not work out the logic. Then I found that front passenger had to fumble to find the internal locking rocker before they could even open the door to get out. That leads me to suspect this car had some gremlins in its system.

Back on a positive note, my test car was the T Spirit 2.2 D-4D and the engine is certainly impressively refined. Diesel noise is so subdued that you can only just detect it when you open a door at tickover.

This diesel power unit gives the Toyota Avensis Tourer T Spirit D-4D good performance. Acceleration 0-62 takes just 9.2 seconds, a performance yardstick that, not so many years ago, would have put this into the sports category.

However, this is no sports tourer. I cannot say I ever felt any emotion when reaching for the keys during my week with the Avensis. Neither did I feel any flicker of disappointment as I passed the keys to a colleague.

Toyota Avensis Tourer load floor

But then, I fully accept, I am not an average user. Toyota is the world’s leading motor manufacturer and that indicates in the most graphic manner that most people are more than satisfied with its products.

Certainly the Toyota Avensis Tourer offers comfort and space. The large carpeted load floor takes 543 litres with the rear seats up, almost three times that with the seats down, one of the best load floors of any estate car in this class.

In this near-top-of-the-range T Spirit guise, the Avensis Tourer is also well-equipped. The luxuries include standard-fit sat-nav and a rear-view parking camera that makes up for the limited rear-view visibility.

The rear window proudly boasts a big sticker stating that this car has “Toyota Optimal Drive” and economy is indeed a virtue. The quoted combined mpg of 50.4 mpg means that you can get well into 40 mpg in real-life conditions. Carbon dioxide emissions are 150 g/km.

The price for the Toyota Avensis Tourer T-Spirit 2.2 D4D is £25,135.
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