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