Toyota Avensis, a D-segment or large family car, succeeded Carina E, the first car that rolled off the production line in Toyota’s Burnaston plant in Derbyshire in 1992. After Carina E's end of production in 1997, Toyota launched the Avensis as a more modern entry in the large or mid-size slot. Indeed, Toyota’s sales improved in Europe with the introduction of the Avensis, which derived its name from ‘avancer’ or ‘to advance’ in French.
The Avensis is a front-engined, front-wheel or four-wheel-drive vehicle marketed in various body styles, including 4-door saloon, 5-door liftback, and 5-door estate. Toyota also produced a multipurpose vehicle (MPV) version of the Avensis called the Avensis Verso, the only model that reached Australia.
Some markets named the Avensis as Toyota Corona (Latin America, Argentina and Brazil), Corona Avensis (Chile and Peru), and Toyota Caldina (Japan). It lived through three generations and several facelifts, finally ending its tenure in 2018 with the launching of Toyota Camry XV70, its successor.
First Generation: T220 (1997–2002)
The first generation was a revamp of the Carina E but with newly-designed bodywork. It rolled off the Burnaston Plant alongside the first-generation Corolla. For the first edition, three body styles (saloon, hatchback, and estate) and four engine choices were available (1.6L, 1.8L, and 2.0L petrol and 2.0L diesel).
A facelift in 2000 fitted the engines with VVT and added Sat Nav as standard for all models. It also added a sporty model to the range, the Avensis 2.0L SR. In 2001, it entered the Australian market with the 7-seat Avensis Verso, the large MPV version. It was a two-time winner of Australia’s Best People Mover Award (2002 and 2003).
It had under its bonnet a 2.0L petrol engine with these specs:
- 2.0L 4-cylinder VVT-i 1AZ-FSE with peak ratings of 110 kW and 192 NM, claimed fuel consumption of 7.7L/100km of combined driving, paired with 4-speed automatic transmission
Two models, both fitted with the 2.0L petrol engine, were available in Australia and had the following features:
- Verso GLX, Base - dual front airbags, ABS, dual-zone A/C, central locking remote control, electronic brake-force distribution, engine immobiliser, power mirrors, power steering, power windows, radio CD with six speakers, seatbelt pre-tensioners (front seats)
- Verso Ultima – on top of the base features: 16-inch alloy wheels, CD player, front fog lights, leather steering wheel, radio cassette with six speakers, roof racks, rear spoiler, side front airbags
Second Generation: T250 (2003–2009)
In 2003, Toyota launched the second-generation saloon and estate Avensis in Japan, marking the first Avensis exports to Toyota’s home market. New Zealand also exported the estate Avensis, due to the end of production of the estate Camry. This generation carried over the first engine options plus a 2.4L I4 petrol engine, the same used in the Camry.
It figured in several awards, including the Best Family Car (2004 and 2005) by What Car?, Semperit Irish Car of the Year (2004), and fourth place in the European Car of the Year (2004).
Other markets had as many as seven trim levels offered, but in Australia, the Verso remained the only version available with the same GLX and Ultima trims until 2010. The engine, however, upgraded to the 2.4L Camry engine with the following specs:
- 2.4L 4-cylinder VVT-i 2AZ-FSE, 118 kW and 221 Nm, 9.2L/100km of combined driving, mated with 4-speed automatic transmission
The Avensis made a name as the first Japanese car to get a rating of 5/5 stars from the Euro NCAP, the vehicle to get the highest score of 34 total points in 2003, and the first production car equipped with a knee airbag.
For most markets, the Verso version continued to sell alongside the other Avensis models until 2006, ceasing afterwards and discontinued in the third generation. In Australia, however, it continued to be available until 2010, with the same 2.4L engine and trims (GLX and Ultima), phasing out altogether afterwards.
Third Generation: T270 (2009–2018)
The third-generation Avensis debuted at the Paris Motor Show in 2008 and went on sale early the next year in most parts of the world, but Australia did not receive this generation. Production ceased in 2018 with the introduction of the larger XV70 Camry.
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