Among the mid-life revisions that have been applied to the Avensis are some tightening measures to the bodyshell to stiffen its rigidity, aerodynamic tweaks, suspension tuning and revised steering gear. The combined effect is a modest dynamic improvement and a slightly sharper feeling car through the bends. Dynamically, though, the Avensis still feels outshone, leaving an impression that it needs something more fundamental to bring it more radically up to date and on a par with its leading rivals.
The front end feels weighty, while the steering is rather numb and it gives only moderate feedback. All of this applies to the diesel version of the Avensis, which is by far the biggest seller of the range. If you are considering the car as a private purchase, rather than as a company user-chooser option, take a look at the 1.8 litre petrol version instead. With less weight over the front wheels, it is a much more enjoyable car to drive.
The ride feels quite supple, while the handling feels secure enough but rather lacking in any particular flair. It is not that the Avensis does anything particularly badly, just that for similar money others do it better and more interestingly.Ease of Use
The saloon design of the Avensis is less versatile than a hatchback, but the boot is a decent size at 509 litres. This car has a good towing limit of 1,600 kg, which makes it of potential interest to caravanners, if the lack of hatchback practicality does not put them off. The boot is a good square shape with amply wide access and a reasonable sill height, so loading is not onerous.
Rear seat knee-room in this five-seater is not overly generous, but the high-ish rear roofline means that there is adequate headroom in the back even for tall passengers.
Dusk-sensing headlights, rain-sensing wipers and a reversing camera are all standard on this model.
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