From October 2010 issue

List price when tested: £25,575Kerbweight: 1635kg*85% match: 1390kgMax towing weight: 1600kgTowball limit: 75kg30-60mph: 14 seconds30-0mph: 9.4m*Including 75kg for the driver not included in Toyota’s published kerbweight

THE TOYOTA AVENSIS is a bit of a slow-burner. There’s nothing about the looks or drive which grabs you straight away, but it’s a car which is worth getting to know better.

Most importantly, it makes a stable towcar. There’s very little movement at high speeds, and through our emergency lane-change test the Avensis proved composed. Even with the caravan moving around behind, the Toyota stayed on course.

The 1-in-10 hill start test posed no problem, either, with the electronic parking brake holding the outfit still and releasing smoothly. What’s more, the brakes proved very strong.

Driven solo the Avensis isn’t as much fun as a Ford Mondeo or Mazda 6. However, it’s comfortable enough and makes a fine long-distance car. It would be better still if the 2.2-litre diesel engine sounded less strained when accelerating.

Most families will find enough space in the Avensis, although rear-seat passengers have more legroom in a Mondeo or Skoda Superb. Luggage space is healthy: 543 litres with the seats up, and 1609 litres when they are folded down.

In spite of the negative publicity Toyota has received over recalls, these are still reliable cars and now come with a five-year warranty. The Avensis finished a respectable 35th out of 101 cars in the 2010 JD Power Customer Satisfaction Survey.

We say        Towing: 3/5 Solo: 3/5Practicality: 4/5 Buying & owning: 4/5

Verdict: 4/5 – A capable and reliable towcar, although the engine is too noisy.

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