2012 Toyota Aurion First Drive Review

Tony O'Kane | 16 Comments

2012 TOYOTA AURION REVIEW

Vehicle Segment: Large Sedan

Tested Power/Torque 0-100km/h Fuel Use (claimed)
Full Range 200kW/336Nm - 9.3l/100km

The new Camry was first, launched earlier this year by Toyota Australia. Now it’s the heavily updated 2012 Aurion’s turn.

It’s a tough time to be launching a large car. Sales of large passenger cars have nosedived; total large car sales for the first two months of 2012 tallied only 9976 units - more than 2000 less than for the same period in 2011.

In a shrinking segment, Aurion sales sit at a distant third behind the Holden Commodore and the Ford Falcon.

That’s something Toyota is determined to change with the 2012 Aurion. By year’s end it hopes to boost the Aurion’s market share to 15 percent - more than double its current sales.

To help it do so, the new Aurion boasts massive improvements to cabin comfort, equipment levels and refinement.

After a day at the wheel, we think the new Aurion range shows promise. It’s vastly improved, and, while it doesn’t push any boundaries, it’s comfortable, swift and competitively-priced.

Interior

This is where the most meaningful improvements have been made. Cabin quality of the 2012 Aurion has been lifted with soft-touch plastics and new switchgear, much of it borrowed from the new Camry’s interior.

Even the faux woodgrain of the range-topping Presara works.

Equipment levels have also gone upmarket. All model grades get dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth, USB inputs, iPod compatibility, cruise-control, a reversing camera and powered driver’s seat.

Further up the Aurion family tree, features like a power-retractable rear sunblind, blind-spot monitor system, auto-dimming rear view mirrors, proximity key, rain-sensing wipers, dusk sensing HID headlamps, auto-dipping high beam, parking sensors, sat-nav and a digital radio tuner find their way onto the spec list.

For a sub-$50k large car (the AT-X starts at $36,490), the Aurion is certainly well-equipped.

While the spec sheet has grown, so too has the Aurion’s internal dimensions. There’s now more rear legroom, headroom and shoulder room than before thanks to repositioned seats and scalloped front seat backrests.

2012 toyota aurion australia 04 presara 09

The front seats are more comfortable too.

There’s a wider range of seat adjustment, longer seat squabs for more under-thigh support and a greater range of movement for the tilt-reach adjustable steering wheel.

The rear seat cushions have also been resculpted to improve comfort and support; we found the back half of the Aurion to be very accommodating.

The 2012 Aurion’s boot has grown to 515 litres - 11 litres more than the old model - and the rear seat backrest now folds down. Beneath the boot floor lies a full-size spare too, which will please regional drivers.

On The Road

Much of the Aurion’s mechanicals carry over. The 3.5 litre V6 produces identical torque and power outputs to the previous-gen car, with only minor refinements to reduce fuel consumption.

The six-speed automatic is also a carryover unit, although it now boasts paddle shifters in the Sportivo grades and has tweaked shift-mapping.

2012 toyota aurion australia 02 at x 02

With 200kW and 336Nm, the Aurion’s powertrain was never regarded as being short on muscle, and the six-speeder slurs through its gears nicely.

Besides some torque steer and a thrashy engine note under hard acceleration, we’ve no complaints with the Aurion’s mechanical package - it’s swift and safe on road with a sharp turn of speed when needed.

Toyota claims fuel consumption gains with the new car, its fuel use dropping to a claimed 9.3 l/100km, but we struggled to get less than 10.4 l/100km.

Down below, Toyota has re-jigged the Aurion’s suspension settings, with more rebound stiffness on both the front and rear dampers, but with spring rates unchanged.

On the road we found the ride to be comfortable, somewhat soft, but well-suited to the undulating rural backroads of the test route.

Cornering-grip isn’t particularly inspiring due to the early onset of understeer, but that’s largely a function of the Aurion’s low rolling-resistance Bridgestone Turanza tyres.

The Sportivo ZR6 has slightly more front-end grip and a marginally firmer ride, but also suffered from the not-so-grippy tyres.

The Sportivo’s electronic power steering (another new addition) supposedly has a different assistance map to the AT-X, Prodigy and Presara grades, but we were hard-pressed to notice a tangible difference (and found the feel a little wooden across all models).

First Drive Verdict

Toyota hasn’t taken any adventurous paths with this new Aurion and it’s not right at the cutting edge of powertrain technology.

But, across the new range, the 2012 Aurion is a massive improvement over the superseded model. The interior is spacious, cosseting and in the higher model grades there’s plenty of creature comforts to keep passengers entertained.

The adoption of safety features like a blind-spot monitor, standard reversing camera, rear passenger seatbelt warning and high-beam assist are also to be commended.

In fact, the gadget-laden Presara flagship is more luxurious than you’d expect a Toyota to feel, and is good value at $49,990.

It’s not head and shoulders above its Ford and Holden competition, but the large car playing field has been levelled with the arrival of the 2012 Toyota Aurion.

Pricing

  • 2012 Aurion AT-X - $36,490
  • 2012 Aurion Prodigy - $41,490
  • 2012 Aurion Presara - $49,990
  • 2012 Aurion Sportivo SX6 - $40,990
  • 2012 Aurion Sportivo ZR6 - $47,990

Note: all prices are Manufacturer's List Price and exclude on-road costs.

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Filed under: Featured, review, Toyota, petrol, japan, 2012, aurion, toyota Aurion, sedan, automatic, fwd, family, large, Advice, special-featured, 6cyl, 4door, 6a, 2012 aurion, 2012 toyota aurion, 5seat, available

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  • Roger says,
    2 years ago
    I like the style, and particularly like the classy interior. The comments you made about the drivetrain echo my thoughs...but perhaps stated more delicately. Perhaps a point to make is Falcon and Commodore are outdated in themselves, and suffering for it (Commodore still sells OK for some reason, wonder how long that will last, and what kind of deals they are doing), I dont think they form a good benchmark for comparison.
    • CP says,
      2 years ago
      Reverse camera and dual zone climate control on all models! Great to see but please tell me they have put a trip computer on the ATX?
      • Andy says,
        2 years ago
        2 likes
        Yes they have....
  • pro346 says,
    2 years ago
    1 like
    A fridge has more style....
    • Smart us says,
      2 years ago
      1 like
      ...and more food biggrin do they include a nice boring cardigans with it cool
    • omicron says,
      2 years ago
      2 likes
      Isn't that obvi? They make some pretty sexy fridges nowadays that will make even a Jaguar ashamed.
  • Mo K says,
    2 years ago
    4 likes
    I really have a hard time figuring out why Toyota Australia needs two Camry's - they look extremely similar, in styling and equipment.
    • John says,
      2 years ago
      Well, this is a large car, competing with the Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon. And it always good to offer an alternative, to those, which is the Aurion. The Camry however, is a medium sized car.
      • Mo K says,
        2 years ago
        I see, that does make sense.

        It's probably not viable for Toyota, but I do wonder what would happen if the Aurion was offered as a RWD variant on the Camry.
      • jmac says,
        2 years ago
        2 likes
        Well, this is a large car, competing with the Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon. And it always good to offer an alternative, to those, which is the Aurion. The Camry however, is a medium sized car.


        Aurion = Camry V6 plus marketing, nothing more. laugh
      • almisfer says,
        2 years ago
        How is the aurion a large car and the camry isn't??
        they both have the exact same proportions. changing the name doesn't make the car bigger you know. who ever gave toyota the idea should be fired.

        and who ever designed this rear end should be fired!.

        this is why the sales has gone down toyota, Ugly designs +way too expensive and no value for your money

        you give me a camry GLX with a v6 engine and add 10000$ to the price? unfair much? + they didn't spend money on developing the engine or the transmission it's all a carry over. the prisera should cost 30000$ max.
    • John says,
      2 years ago
      1 like
      This car is more suitable as a luxury car, only when it is in Presara form does it look luxurious for it's segment and a bit more appealing. Otherwise, it's rather awkward and a bit of a put off. But what we should realise is that Hyundai and Kia are stepping it up, it terms of style and design. Toyota may excel in many areas, but this is where they are majorly lacking. Toyota needs to step it up.
  • dasher says,
    2 years ago
    The more I see it on the road the more I like it..crisp and neat. I like the Sportivo interior BUT the outside is ghastly ..completly stuffed up a nice looking car (bit like HSV stuffed up the VE..what are these guys thinking?) A Presara with 18's would look very sharp .. that said I think the Progidy is nicer inside with the different shades of metallic rather than the Presara wood. The trouble is my old 110K Presara goes so well I can't justify a change. In the real world these are excellent cars.
  • Lightning Rod says,
    2 years ago
    I own the last model Aurion Sportivo but wont be upgrading to this one. Although its a great drive, fuel consumption is massive. Forget the lower figures quoted by Toyota. Its alot higher in the real world. In this day and age of skyrocketing fuel prices, its sheer madness to own a big V6 petrol. Better options are Camry hydrid or a diesel. I'm looking at a Skoda Superb diesel next. Big car with VW technology but cheaper to run.
  • jlewi62 says,
    9 months ago
    I have had and aurion presara for just over a year now andit has been fine, nice to drive. But i have had endless problems with the rear sun shade and only in the past half an hour i have had to get RACQ out twice because it wont start. So tomorrow im going to have a look at a new car because this is stupidity i paid $57,000 for a pice of rubish i use to belive in toyota but not anymore im going to look at mazda's and honda's
    • jlewi62 says,
      9 months ago
      Just put down a deposit on a Mazda 3 neo! It will want to be better than the aurion
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