The skinny: Now in its final update, Toyota’s last ‘big Aussie six’ emerges with only light changes. What matters to families and fleets everywhere remains the same though - this is hard working, no frills transport that’s more than capable of getting the job done right.
Vehicle Style: Large sedan
Price: $36,490 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 200kW/336Nm 3.5 6cyl petrol | 6spd automatic
Fuel Economy claimed: 9.3 l/100km | tested: 11.3 l/100km
In fact, with the latest 2015 update, the Camry now stretches 15mm longer from nose to tail, but both it and Aurion share the same wheelbase and interior dimensions.
The price difference though is an even $10,000 - and that’s not small change in anyone’s books.
While Camry got sweeping price reductions, Aurion did not.
There are some differences on the spec sheet in the latest model though, and an obvious improvement when you put your foot down thanks to the big V6 under the bonnet. But why would you choose the Aurion over the four cylinder Camry?
- Cloth seat trim, eight-way powered driver’s seat.
- Dual zone climate control, keyless entry and start.
- 6.1 inch colour touchscreen, revised instrument cluster with 4.2 inch display.
- Six-speaker audio with CD/AM/FM/MP3 plus USB and auxiliary inputs.
- Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity.
- Reverse camera, front and rear (corner only) park sensors with graphical display.
- Urethane steering wheel and gear knob.
Inside the Aurion things are contemporary enough without being cutting edge. There’s also that feeling of an ‘at home’ familiarity for anyone who has owned a Toyota in the last 15 or so years.
The new instrument cluster is bright and clear, but the chrome overload surrounding the dials seems a little chintzy next to the sombre trim. Elsewhere, more subtle nickel and silver coloured highlights are used.
Seats are broad enough for most body shapes, but fairly flat. The power adjustable driver’s seat makes setting up behind the wheel easy. The rear bench is no 'penalty pew' either with decent width and legroom available.
A 60:40 folding rear seat can be lowered from inside the boot, but with the seats up there’s a cavernous 515 litres of storage, 20 litres more than Commodore, but 20 litres less than Falcon.
ON THE ROAD
- 200kW/336Nm 3.6 litre petrol V6
- Six-speed automatic, front wheel drive
- MacPherson strut front and independent rear suspension
- 16-inch alloy wheels with 215/60 R16 tyres
- Four wheel disc brakes with 296mm vented front rotors
- Ventilated disc-brakes front and rear
The 3.5 litre naturally aspirated V6 under the bonnet of the Aurion has been around for a while and has served duty in a number of Toyota and Lexus models. That’s no bad thing; it’s a decent engine.
This application sees it produce 200kW at 6200rpm with 336Nm of torque available at 4700rpm. That gives it a power advantage over Holden and Ford’s big sixes, but it still trails the 4.0 litre Falcon for torque.
In dry weather the Aurion pulls strongly and feels swift if you plant the foot. Torque steer shows itself if you’re particularly demanding.
In the wet there’s a bit more tugging from the front end. Feeding 200kW through the front wheels of any car can be considered a challenge, so its a credit to Toyota’s engineers that the Aurion is as well-controlled as it is.
Ride comfort is exceptional, secure over big undulations, but comfortable enough to keep the family happy if the road surface turns nasty. With just one occupant it can be a little floaty, but load the Aurion up and it settles nicely.
Steering is finger light, and there’s little in the way of feedback from the road. Maybe not to enthusiast tastes, but fine for anyone who puts unperturbed comfort first.
Wind noise is well isolated, but there is a little noise from the tyres at the highway limit. Around town the engine is whisper quiet, but, if you do rev it out, the V6 holds a note that’s far from unpleasant.
For anyone who does a bit of weekend handiwork, the Aurion can tow up to 1600kg braked, or 500kg unbraked.
ANCAP rating: 5-Stars - this model scored 36.59 out of 37 possible points.
Safety features: Stability and traction control, ABS brakes with brake assist and electronic brakeforce distribution, and seven airbags (dual front, driver and front passenger side, full length curtain, and driver’s knee).
All seats feature three-point seatbelts, with front seats gaining height adjustment and load-limiting pretensioners.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
Traditional ‘large car’ rivals include the Commodore and Falcon and picking a winner between the three big Aussie sixes is most likely to come down to your personal preference.
A big mid-sizer might also fall onto your shopping list: Hyundai Sonata, 6, Honda Accord or even Toyota’s own Camry will let you pick a higher spec for similar money.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
If Toyota had applied the price reductions from Camry to the Aurion range, you’d be looking at knockout value.
While the Aurion is well equipped, it still has a battle on its hands against a crop of newer, very impressive mid-size sedans.
Its home-grown opposition also gives it a headache; the VF Commodore has a terrific interior and strong equipment list. The Falcon is torquier, feels roomier, and can tow up to 700kg more.
So does any of this make the Aurion a bad car? Far from it, it simply means you’ll want to drive a hard bargain if you’re looking to buy one.
It provides simple, solid transport. There’s room for five people and plenty of urge to get the job done - everything, in fact, that the dying breed of Aussie large car should be.