Car Review: Toyota - Avensis  Series 97 (3 stars)

Average. You won't find a better way of making relaxed, long-distance progress.

The current generation Avensis has always majored on comfort and pretty much peerless insulation from the rigours of driving, and a recent set of minor revisions (including the arrival of several new engines) has helped to buff up its case for the medium term. But keener drivers will still look in vain for any kind of excitement in the uninterested driving dynamics.

The conservative styling still looks a bit dull compared to more visually interesting rivals, but the Avensis feels like a real quality item and the interior plastics and trim are a cut above those of pretty much all major competitors. The spacious cabin is a good place to spend time, thanks to a comfortable driving position and that brilliant motorway refinement - there's a distinct feeling of Toyota's sister Lexus brand about the way the Avensis devours long journeys. Rear seat space is good, too, with saloon, hatchback and estate variants all enjoying plenty of luggage space.

Driving dynamics are insipid, though - even supposedly sportier versions of the Avensis suffer from relatively dull-witted responses and limited amounts of grip. All engines offer decent performance, although it's hard to see too much point in the 1.8 litre or 2.0 litre petrol powerplants, considering how smooth and refined the diesel versions are. Range-topping T180 diesel is smooth, punchy and refined.

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Toyota Avensis Series 97 StatisticsCar Reviews

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