The Auris is a compact hatchback introduced in 2006. The first generation of the Auris was a bit dull and anonymous looking. However, more recent versions are made more appealing.
The Auris from 2012 is the one to buy as it has a range of economical engines. That said, no Toyota Auris is fast, and performance can only be described as adequate.
The range comprises four options: two petrols, a diesel and a hybrid. Apart from the hybrid, all the engines come with a slick six-speed manual transmission. It’s best to try and find the manual 1.6 litre petrol model because it offers tolerable performance and good running costs, while maintaining reasonable interior refinement.
If you are intent on buying the most eco-friendly Auris possible, then the Auris HSD – the hybrid model – is also a satisfactory choice.
Generally speaking, though, no Auris is thirsty for fuel, and low road tax costs and service intervals further reduce expenditure.
Ride and handling
The Toyota Auris rides comfortably and the seats are supportive. There is enough bolstering to hold you in position during cornering.
The car is also quiet around town, but get the Auris on a motorway and wind noise is very noticeable. You don’t have to shout to talk to other people in the car, but it’s rather invasive.
Engine noise doesn’t intrude overly, either, and the Toyota Auris’ ride is good enough. Put it this way, you won’t get out at the end of a lengthy drive feeling drained and stressed. Some road surfaces can cause it to bounce around. It does bang and crash over potholes too.
The most reassuring element about the Toyota Auris, however, is its safety. Like its forerunner, the 2012 onwards generation has a top five star rating, earned following Euro NCAP crash tests. It scored highly for adult occupant protection as well as for child occupant protection.
Safety equipment is brilliant as the Auris comes with numerous airbags, ISOFIX child seat mounts, height-adjustable front and rear head restraints, whiplash reducing front seats, traction control and electronic stability control.
What’s more, the Toyota Auris benefits from a body shell that is designed to protect everyone, with added features such as side impact beams and head impact protection structures in the roof sides and pillars.
The Auris’ interior is spacious, with room for five adults, and there is a lot of leg and headroom. Likewise, the 360 litre boot can swallow a significant amount of luggage.
The boot also has a dual-level load space, which allows you to keep items under the floor. This helps hold objects that might move about. It’s also good for keeping things hidden.
If you need further storage, then the rear seats, fold to extend luggage space. Storage points are abundant throughout the cabin, too. For instance, there are bottle holders in the doors, a nicely sized glove box, front and rear cup holders, and even a coin box.
Four trim levels are offered: Active, Icon, Sport and Excel. The entry level Active model is all you really need because it comes with climate control, a stereo with USB, electrically adjustable and heated mirrors and electric front windows.
If you are after a bit more luxury and don’t mind spending a little more, then the Icon grade features a DAB radio, a multimedia control system, Bluetooth connectivity, a rear-view camera, a leather steering wheel and gear knob, front fog lamps and electric windows all around.
What to know before you buy
There isn’t an awful lot to worry about with the Toyota Auris, because its reliability is excellent. The car is well-made and robust, and has a hard-wearing, virtually child-proof, interior as well as strong mechanical parts.
Toyota is known for its impressive quality control in its factories and the Japanese company is always on the ball when it comes to identifying potential issues with its vehicles. If a fault does become evident, it’s likely you will hear about it first from Toyota itself.
However, no car is infallible, so when buying a used Auris, just check for any car parking knocks and examine alloy wheels for any scuffs. Also, if you are looking specifically at the hybrid version, make sure that, when the batteries are fully charged, the electric drive system works correctly by pressing the EV switch.
The Auris’ boot capacity is 360 litres. This is decent, but less than that offered by the SEAT Leon, which boasts 380 litres. The Kia Ceed is also worth exploring because it has a 362 litre boot and a transferable seven year warranty.
However, the Toyota has a noticeably larger load area than another one of its mainstream rivals - the Ford Focus. The Ford has a surprisingly small boot, measuring a measly 316 litres. That said, the Focus is the best drive out of all the cars mentioned here.
The Auris is safe, well priced and inexpensive to run and own. However, it’s rather bland to drive and the cabin, although practical, isn't as swanky as it is in the best small family cars.