Safe and sound

The Au­rion was pop­u­lar ... and a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent, writes Gra­ham Smith

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Used Cars -

TOY­OTA threat­ened to en­ter the big-six mar­ket for many years be­fore it took the plunge with the Au­rion.

There was the Lex­cen-badged Com­modore and when that failed they launched the bland Avalon, and when that did noth­ing to ex­cite the masses they launched the Au­rion.

The Au­rion pre­sented some­thing a lit­tle dif­fer­ent in the seg­ment that had been dom­i­nated by Holden and Ford for many years and enough buy­ers signed up for Toy­ota to claim it as a suc­cess.

Model watch

THE pitch for the Au­rion was good; it had class-lead­ing power and econ­omy, and bet­ter value for money.

The Au­rion shared its me­chan­i­cal pack­age with the Camry, but Toy­ota’s en­gi­neers worked hard to dif­fer­en­ti­ate it from its sib­ling.

It was given a more ag­gres­sive look, while the cabin got new seats, a re­vised dash and di­als, and a large cen­tre con­sole.

The 3.5-litre V6 boasted 204kW at 6200 revs and 336Nm at 4700 revs, which was more than the Fal­con or Com­modore could muster at the time. There was a six-speed auto trans­mis­sion with touch-change man­ual shift­ing and in­tel­li­gent auto op­er­a­tion.

The fi­nal drive was through the front wheels, some­thing Aussies had spurned in their big cars in the past, but Toy­ota was con­fi­dent those fears had long since faded.

There were five mod­els in to­tal, split into two groups. On one side were the sporty mod­els, in­clud­ing the Sportivo, while on the other were the lux­ury vari­ants, in­clud­ing the Pre­sara.

On the road

WITH 200kW-plus on tap there was no short­age of zip with the Au­rion. It jumped out of the blocks and de­liv­ered through the rev range. The com­fort­able ride was matched by sup­port­ive seats and re­spon­sive han­dling. There was a lot to like about the Au­rion.

On the lot

PAY $15,000-$20,000 for the AT-X , or for a sportier ride pay $20,000-$25,000 for a Sportivo SX6 or $22,000-$30,000 for a Sportivo ZR6. If you pre­fer pres­tige a Prodigy can be had for $20,000-$25,000, while a Pre­sara is $24,000-$32,000.

In the shop

OVER­ALL the Au­rion lives up to Toy­ota’s rep­u­ta­tion for qual­ity and re-

li­a­bil­ity, it is a gen­er­ally sound car that gives lit­tle trou­ble. There have been some re­ports of pis­ton slap and com­plaints of the in­ter­me­di­ate steer­ing shaft com­ing loose have been heard.

In a crunch

THE Au­rion had a com­pre­hen­sive ac­tive and pas­sive safety pack­age. It had anti-skid brak­ing, elec­tronic brake­force dis­tri­bu­tion, trac­tion and sta­bil­ity con­trol. On the pas­sive side it had front airbags for the driver and pas­sen­ger, as well as side and head airbags.

ANCAP rated the Au­rion four stars.

At the pump

TOY­OTA claimed an im­pres­sive 9.9 litres/100km for its new big car, which is be­ing borne out in ser­vice. Own­ers re­port 8.5-9.9 litres/100km around town. To get the best out of it the Au­rion should be run on 95-oc­tane pre­mium un­leaded.

The bot­tom line

GOOD all-round fam­ily car with good per­for­mance and econ­omy, com­pre­hen­sive safety pack­age, and Toy­ota build qual­ity.

Com­fort­ing: Toy­ota’s Au­rion com­bined econ­omy and re­li­a­bil­ity with a slightly ag­gres­sive look and was a se­ri­ous al­ter­na­tive to the Com­modore and Fal­con.

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