Aurion, a model in the Toyota line up that’s sold in select places like the Gulf and the Australian sub-continent. The reason that Toyota is selling well is the fact that they have gained credibility through building reliable engines and “bang for the buck” vehicles; both the things that most customers look for. Sandwiched between the Camry and the Avalon, its place in the line-up is a bit confusing which is why it is losing customers. We had to review this car as 2017 might be the end of this model.
The car manages to pull off a simple yet somewhat sporty look that might not make it stand out from the crowd, but it certainly does the job of satisfying its owners. It comes in different variants in different countries. A smaller blacked out grill for the sportier Sportivo (Australia) and a bigger chrome grill to add elegance in the Presara (Australia) and the Grande (Oman). The car sports sharp accents all over the body. A humped bonnet, side skirts, side body lines extending from the tail lamps and disappearing around the front fenders. The side profile looks well put together because of its almost symmetrical front and rear window lines.
Step in and everything seems very Toyota-ish. The cabin feels well sorted with a place for everything. Nothing inside shouts “fancy” at all. The interior trim is offered in different configurations of black and beige depending on the exterior paint job. Woodgrain panelling is featured on the dash and door arm rests that look tacky most of the time. Go for the top model and you’ll find all sorts of gimmicks that you’d expect from a car of its price. An infotainment system with navigation, CD-player, bluetooth, USB and AUX connectivity. Reverse parking camera with proximity sensors, moon-roof, automatic LED headlights, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, rear power sunshade, dual-zone climate control, cruise control, a JBL stereo system, ABS (Anti-lock Brake System), EBD (Electronic-Brake Distribution), BA (Brake Assist), VSC (Vehicle Stability Control), TRC (Traction Control), BSM (Blind Spot Monitor), RCTA (Rear Cross Traffic Alert), LDA (Lane Departure Alert) and front and side airbags. The interface in the infotainment system is outright “Toyota” which is tolerable, so not a deal breaker. The seats offer electronic adjustment with lumbar support and 2 memory slots so that you don’t have to find your ideal seating position every time someone has driven it. The car could definitely use ventilated cooling seats as its featured leather seats retain heat very well which is not a good thing. Steering controls have been provided for operating the instrument cluster and the infotainment system. The blue back-light in the speedometer gives a cool temperature to the ambience of the cabin.
Open the bonnet and there lies a mighty 268bhp 3.5Liter V6 engine with Dual VVT-i (Variable Valve Timing with Intelligence) and 24-valve DOHC (Dual Overhead Camshaft) that powers the front wheels via a 6-speed automatic gearbox. The exhaust note is more towards the quieter end in contrast to the power that it can deliver. Use all your right foot force from a standstill and the engine grunts with 336Nm of torque to 100km/h in a respectable 7.2 seconds. The torque peaks at 4700rpm.
There is an ECO mode that improves efficiency by reducing throttle response and changing gears at lower rpm (Fuel consumption in our test vehicle averaged between 6km/l to 10km/l according to the driving style). Turn off ECO mode and the car feels lighter and more powerful. The engine in the Aurion does not let it feel bulky despite having a 1550 kg kerb weight. It provides linear power delivery and is quick to react as long as it has to stay in the same gear. The car even downshifts 2 gears to meet the demands of the throttle pedal which is fun. Gear shifts take more time compared other cars in the market. The steering on the Aurion is large and lacks feedback. Sometimes it requires a lot of effort to get it back straight after exiting a turn because it is too lazy to centre itself.
Brakes on the Aurion take getting used to. There isn’t much initial bite in them. Whereas it is quite easy to lose traction under heavy braking. So it has a narrow braking range and it could definitely do better in this department.
Only the Sportivo in Australia comes fitted with 225mm wide tyres and 18-inch rims (225/45 R 18 W*). All other models are standard with 215mm tyres and 17-inch rims (our test vehicle had these on) which are okay for daily driving. The tyres provide good traction at high speeds but lose easily under heavy braking. The ABS takes a second to stabilize the car after losing traction which is a long time. Since the steering lacks feedback, the car tends to wander sideways within a lane which is why it needs constant correction.
The ride quality of the Aurion is a mix of smooth and supple. Undulations on road do travel from the outside to the occupants. But overall it is satisfactory. Nothing too sporty.
The Toyota Aurion is a very well-built passenger vehicle with all the creature comforts and space for 5 people. It has a brilliant engine. But needs a faster reacting gearbox, a better braking system and a better set of tyres to transform into a completely mind-blowing performance sedan.
*To understand these numbers refer our Tyre Nomenclature article: https://autoziast.wordpress.com/2017/02/21/tyre-nomenclature-guide-to-understanding-your-tyre-better/https://autoziast.wordpress.com/2017/02/21/tyre-nomenclature-guide-to-understanding-your-tyre-better/