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The Toyota Avensis is a car manufactured by Toyota, one of the world's largest vehicle manufacturers, and with one of the best reputations for reliability. They are also well known for their brandname Lexus, used for their high end cars - but, as I will cover later, there is some overlap.

The original Avensis was released in 1997 as a replacement for the Carina, and was then revamped in 2000 to the current bodyshape.

This WU is based on current (December 2005) British specifications. Often cars will be released with the same name in different countries but with different specifications (eg US versions often have larger engines).

Body Variants

The Avensis is currently available in 3 body types.

  • Saloon - Conventional 4 door, 5 seat model with a sizeable boot and rear seats that fold down in a 60/40 split.
  • Hatchback - Essentially the same size as the saloon, but with a hatchback rather than a boot.
  • Estate - Same front as the Saloon, but a full estate car (aka a Station Wagon).

Typically the new selling prices for the saloon and the hatchback are the same, with the estate starting at a slightly higher price. On the second hand market, hatchbacks command a slightly higher price than saloons (all else being equal). The hatchback does have slightly more load space, but given that on the saloon and hatchback the back seats fold flat, there's not a huge amount in it.

All three bodies are available in all colours (plain and metallic) and in all grades.


All Avensis models have the following equipment.

  • ABS with Electronic Brake Distribution
  • 9 Airbags - front, side, curtain front and rear, and drivers knee
  • Remote central double locking, alarm and immobiliser
  • Manual Air Conditioning (replaced with Climate Control on higher models
  • Multi-adjustable seats(driver 6-way, passenger 4-way)
  • Single disc CD player with 8 speakers
  • Steering wheel mounted audio controls
  • Optitron instrument display
  • Front electric windows with auto up/down (and rear on higher models)
  • Trip computer with average fuel consumption and average speed display

The following are the grades that the Avensis is available in, together with what you get above and beyond the above list.

  • T2 - The entry model - has everything listed above.
  • "Colour Collection" - A promotional version of the T2.
  • T3-s - T2 with the following.
  • T3-x - T2 with the following.
    • Instrument panel and centre console with metallic effect
    • Fog lamps, front and rear with automatic cancelling
    • Leather steering wheel and gear knob with leather and metallic effect
    • Dual zone climate control air conditioning
    • Rain sensing wipers
    • Front and rear electric windows
    • Door inserts with carbon fibre effect
    • Electrochromatic rear view mirror (automatically darkens to avoid being dazzled from behind)
    • Electrically adjustable, heated and retractable exterior mirrors
    • 16" 5-spoke alloy wheels with locking wheelnuts
  • T4 - Essentially a combination of all the features in both the T3-s and T3-x.
  • T-Spirit - T4 with the following.
    • Cruise control
    • Seat trim, leather seat facings
    • Electric Lumbar support on driver seat
    • Electrical multi adjustable front seats
    • Brake Assist System
    • Vehicle Stability Control and Traction Control

Engines and Transmission

All petrol engines are based on Toyota's VVTi (Variable Valve Timing) technology that adjusts the timing of the engine valves according to the engine speed. Similar to Honda's VTEC system. All diesel engines are Toyota's D4-D modern common-rail diesel engines. All "0-62 mph" times are for the saloon model. All automatic transmissions have a semi-automatic mode as well.

  • On the T2 / Colour Collection
    • 1.8 petrol manual - 124 mph top speed, 0-62 mph in 10.3 seconds, 39 mpg combined
    • 2.0 diesel manual - 121 mph, 11.2 seconds, 48 mpg
  • On the T3-s
    • All the T2 engine options
    • 2.2 diesel manual - 130 mph, 9.3 seconds, 47 mpg
  • On the T3-x
    • All the T3-s engine options
    • 2.0 petrol manual - 130 mph, 9.4 seconds, 34 mpg
    • 1.8 petrol automatic - 121 mph, 11.6 seconds, 36 mpg
    • 2.0 petrol automatic - 127 mph, 9.5 seconds, 30 mpg
  • On the T4
    • All the T3-x engines except for the 2.0 diesel
  • On the T-Spirit
    • 2.0 petrol manual - 130 mph, 9.4 seconds, 34 mpg
    • 2.0 petrol automatic - 127 mph, 9.5 seconds, 30 mpg
    • 2.2 diesel manual - 130 mph, 9.3 seconds, 47 mpg
    • 2.4 petrol automatic - 137 mph, 9.1 seconds, 29 mpg. Unfortunately no longer available for new purchases.

All manuals have 5 gears and all automatics have 4, except the 2.4 petrol which has 5.


In common with most Japanese cars, the options list isn't very large, because most things are included as standard! The Colour Collection and T2 models have no options. The T3-s, T3-x and T4 models have an option of the in-car entertainment system (DVD/game system with screens in the back of the front headrests for the kids). The T-Spirit has a sunroof, an upgrade of the turn-by-turn navigation system to a full moving maps system and and the in-car entertainment system.

There are, of course, various other options that are dealer fitted.

  • Rear parking sensors.
  • 6 disc CD changer (to complement the single unit in the dash).
  • Tinted rear windows.
  • and so on....

My car

What's my interest in this? I just bought one of these. It's a T-Spirit saloon with the 2.4 petrol engine, just over a year old, about 2600 miles on the clock and most of the dealer-fitted options. It is smooth, quiet and comfortable. It gets to 60 mph faster than my Celica and moves up to 100 mph effortlessly. It's not the most exciting car in the world, but it's certainly a good car!

The interesting point, though, is comparing my car to a Lexus. Now there's no question that the Lexus GS300 and LS430 are far above mine. But let's look at the IS200 / IS250. It's certainly at least as big as the IS model, and has a comparable engine (2.4 compared to 2.0 or 2.5 on the IS). The interior is leather, brushed aluminium and some wood panelling. Everything that can be is electronic. But you pay a lot more for the "L" badge rather than the "T" badge. Is the IS200 worth it? In my opinion, no.


  • The Toyota website.
  • The Toyota Avensis brochure.
  • The car I just purchased.

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