‘Solid’ and ‘dour’ were two words that kept cropping up as various testers emerged from the Toyota Avensis cabin.

It is hard not to be impressed by the tightly constructed dash, close-fitting materials and overall feeling of indestructibility. We’d wager that if you were to take the current crop of family saloons and drive them for 300,000 miles, it would be the Toyota’s interior that would fare best. 

Nic Cackett

Nic Cackett

Road tester
The Avensis offers its occupants little in the way of excitement

However, next to the swooping, stylised cabins of some rivals – the Vauxhall Insignia in particular – the Avensis offers its occupants little in the way of excitement. The lines of the fascia are clean and the contrast between the textured dash and the charcoal-effect centre console (standard on higher-spec models) works well, but the expanses of vertical surfaces give a conservative feel.

Lacking flair is not the Avensis’s only problem, the positioning and design of some ancillary controls are less satisfactory. The rotary heating controls are too shallow to get an easy purchase, the mirror controls are nothing more than flat squares of plastics and the release for the electric parking brake is hidden from view behind the steering wheel. 

Other than some testers complaining that the seats proved insufficiently comfortable for longer journeys, there is little else to fault in the cabin accommodation. There is adequate seat and wheel adjustment to suit most drivers, and the rear cabin, if not quite as accommodating as the Mondeo, is respectable for the class.

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Standard equipment on the entry-level Active model includes - 16in steel wheels, air conditioning, Bluetooth, cruise control and a pre-collision system, while upgrading to Business Edition gets you some fleet-friendly equipment such as 17in alloy wheels, Toyota's Touch 2 infotainment system, sat nav, DAB radio, a reversing camera, automatic wipers and lights, Toyota's full complement of Pre-Sense safety tech and climate control.

Opt for the Business Edition Plus and you'll find a leather and Alcantara upholstery, adaptive LED headlights, tinted rear windows, and keyless entry and go, while the range-topping Excel trim adorns the Avensis with 18in alloy wheels, and electrically adjustable and heated front seats. The estate version also gains a panoramic sunroof and integrated boot rails. 

When it comes to load carrying in the estate, you have a flat floor on your side, which stays that way when the seats are dropped, and there’s a standard-fit rail system for securing loads, but the seat cushion does not lift to form a protective bulkhead, and the load bay itself is relatively shallow and narrow for the class.

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