I have owned my Toyota Avensis TR 2.2 D-4D for just over one year now and have covered around 25000 miles, having purchased an ex demonstrator model on an 08 plate in Nov 08 with just over 1500 miles on the clock. I commute quite a distance to work and use my car for business trips around twice a month and so my driving is mostly motorway or fast A road/dual carriage way driving, with little heavy town driving in my normal routine.
When shopping for a car, I was quite broad minded in the kind of car I was looking for, yet remained disappointed in most of the major brands until I got to Toyota, the car that initially caught my eye was a very sporty Auris model. However the dealer in Lincoln also had a selection of elegant looking Avensis lined up in a row, all with low mileage and all seeming to offer a lot of car for the price, compared to the smaller hatchbacks we had been considering. Since owning the Avensis I have referred to it as a 'grown ups' car, it essentially is a sensible mid market car, (for a slightly older hopefully sensible driver...!) A hatchback that looks like a saloon. In an ideal world I wanted a diesel (for economy as I do cover quite a high mileage, this year has been average) and an automatic but this combination still seems out of range for me, or involves buying something just too old and dated for what would still be a significant chunk of money (e.g. old Audi A4, Vectra etc.).
We were trading in our 2001 Alfa Romeo 147, which we had taken around the clock in the previous five years, and which although much loved, was going to be expensive to get through its next MOT, so while I normally try and sell cars privately and maximise the profit, in this case it would not have been worth the effort for a few hundred pounds more return. In the end we received £600 for the Alfa against a purchase price of £13.3K which included carpet mats, blue-tooth telephone system, mud-flaps and 12 months tax (£145 in Nov 08). The cars were discounted some way from the regular selling price as it was the end of the model range, in fact I feel I got a reasonable deal as a quick search of used car sales on Autotrader across the UK one year later and the cheapest price I can see for the identical model is still around £12K.
Comfort and Drive - this is very important to me given I commute 55 miles each way to my main place of work and 89 miles to my secondary location. I have been particularly concerned with the seat squab after having driven a company Vauxhall Astra for 12K miles in three months a few years ago - the most uncomfortable vehicle I have ever driven....! The Avensis is never going to be a car that real driving lovers will lust after, but it feels solid and luxurious, and comfortable both as a driver and a passenger for longer journeys. It is the first car I have owned that has had a six speed manual gear box which is useful for maintaining economy and while I found it strange at first, it is second nature now, (although I then start looking for seventh occasionally...) cruise control is also fitted as standard, the car's target key market evidently being the company fleet market. The diesel engine itself is shared with the lexus and while I don't have experience of the smaller engines, motoring journals would seem to suggest that the 2.2 is the engine to go for.
I particularly like the spaciousness of the Avensis, both rear legroom, and even the boot space, which is absolutely huge and ideal for UK holidays. It reminds me very much of the boot of the 1997 Audi A4 I once owned - pretty cavernous. The rear seats also fold and so it is possible to carry long loads to a point, although my boot-space still looks like new.
Our model includes a built in Satellite Navigation system, similar to our outgoing 2001 Alfa Romeo. I do also own a separate Navman, but an inbuilt system does seem to avoid the small problem of the would be opportunist thief given portable satellite systems are in most cars these days. The Sat Nav system itself comes with a 178 page instruction manual which of course has never been read.
I did think I would have to as we could not work out why the navigation system would sometimes work and sometimes just would not work...eventually we realised that it won't work (other than to hit the "home" button) if the car is actually moving. I understand this safety feature although if there is a front seat passenger then it becomes mildly annoying. The system is up to date, with postcode options although I tend to just use street name and town wherever possible, and it will reroute or recommend a reroute if there is heavy traffic ahead, a feature which my navman and Alfa system did not have.
The car is really quite long, and it does take some time to adjust to that, particularly as our other car, a Scenic has much better visibility when reversing, and is much shorter.
A diesel is never going to break the record for 0-60 performance but the Avensis manages this in just over 9 seconds, and has a top speed of 130 mph with 148BHP, low torque of the diesel engine means that the Avensis can more than hold its own in traffic.
The car itself has a five star ncap rating, and has a total of nine air-bags, which makes it among best in class.
Fuel Consumption - The official fuel economy figures for the 2.2 D-4D 150 6-speed manual are 37.2 mpg (urban), 57.6mpg (extra-urban) and 47.9 mpg (combined) with 156g CO2 emissions per kilometre. I don't recall ever achieving anything like the extra urban figure, as it is not the kind of driving I do , however I easily achieve 45mpg, which I think is acceptable for a car of this size and on budget for what I wanted my car to achieve personally.
Servicing and Reliability - the Toyota warranty requires that the car has a full service every 20000 miles and an oil and filter change every 10000 miles. As I had actually done 10000 miles 3 months after acquiring the car last year, then servicing costs were a concern to me. My local dealer does offer interest free payment options for signing into a three year servicing option, which includes a 10% saving off the list price, although this was not an option we went in for. We did omit the official 10000 mile service for reasons of costs, especially as it was only three months after our purchase, however we did undertake a basic oil change. Thankfully, the garage had actually done a 10000 mile service when we bought it, despite the fact the car had barely any mileage on it! Our first big service then was undertaken at around 22000 miles. This 56 point check cost us £266 in total, including a complimentary carton of oil for topping up in the interim, which I felt was a nice service touch. We had reported some sponginess in the breaks and play in the handbrake, and when we picked the car up a few hours later we noticed that they had completely replaced all the disc pads free of charge. The car is a group nine insurance, which makes it very affordable for a mid range family vehicle. I do need to replace the front two tyres soon as they are showing some signs of wear, which is probably the only negative, for 25000 miles driving.
Overall I am very pleased with my Avensis. I do intend to keep it for several more years, and no doubt will take it around the clock, but the car represents an excellent mid range family car, offering both comfort and space, and at a price which is not dissimilar to a higher end family hatchback.