USED CAR: Toyota Aurion 2012-17 had limo ambitions
THE Toyota Aurion was basically a posh Camry with a V6 rather than four-cylinder engine. The maker preferred to call it an attainable luxury sedan.
It was the most powerful car Toyota built in Australia and a stylish flagship.
Either way, the 200kW 3.5-litre barge was big on space and refinement and upheld Toyota's reputation for bulletproof reliability.
Praise was heaped on the classy and powerful V6, mated to a six-speed auto transmission, and the cabin and boot were proper family-sized.
Poor resale meant used prices dropped like stones, so when shopping for a preloved Aurion you can score a lot of car for your money.
The model may share the Camry's reputation for blandness personified, but the Aurion was a suitable foil for the other Aussie-built large sedans. So for those not wanting to enter the Falcon v Commodore battleground, the Toyota is your front-drive V6 alternative.
All that power going through the front rather than rear wheels meant it was less fun and there was plenty of tugging at the steering wheel if you powered-on too quickly.
We'll focus on the second generation Aurion, on sale from April 2012 to August 2017, when the final model rolled off the Altona production line.
Built on the Camry chassis but with distinctive styling and interior, the Aurion launched in five trim levels: AT-X, Prodigy, Presara, Sportivo SX6 and Sportivo ZR6.
All had the same engine and transmission but Sportivos had paddle-shifters mounted on the steering wheel.
Standard on all grades were seven airbags, power driver's seat, dual-zone climate control aircon, reversing camera, alloy wheels, 60-40 split-fold rear seats and USB input with iPod connectivity.
The entry AT-X was favoured by fleets and rental companies, so aim for the higher grades for more pampering.
The Prodigy added larger 17-inch alloys, fog lamps, rain-sensing wipers, parking sensors, leather-accented interior, power rear sunshade, power passenger seat and smart entry and start.
Spoil yourself in a Presara, with seven-inch screen, satnav, adaptive front lights, blind spot monitor, moonroof, booming JBL audio and woodgrain-look cabin panels.
Sportivos took the AT-X spec and added sportier suspension, alloys, front grille, pedals and power seats, smart entry and start and fog lamps. The sports diffuser, front spoiler and rear wing look a bit silly on this grand car.
The range-topping Sportivo ZR6 added leather-accented cabin, seven-inch screen, satnav, auto lights and wipers, HID headlamps, parking sensors and the JBL audio.
A 2012 Aurion Touring special edition fitted an AT-X with 17-inch wheels, front fog lights, sports grille, spoiler and audio controls on the steering wheel.
From May 2015, the range was streamlined to three: AT-X, Presara and Sportivo. There were minor styling changes and a new differential to improve driveability.
Standard on all were keyless entry and start, 4.2-inch colour instrument display, infotainment and parking sensors.
Presaras added LED lights, lane departure and rear cross-traffic alert. Sportivos got black alloys, redesigned body kit (the rear wing now gone, thankfully) and even stiffer suspension.
The final hurrah came in June 2016 with Sportivo gaining leather seats, satnav, JBL sound, seven-inch touchscreen, LED lights and the Presara's active safety gear.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Reliability and satisfied customers are overwhelmingly the Aurion's pluses. There are no common complaints, though some owners mention tyres wearing out quickly.
The suspension can be quite firm for some, so test one over a variety of road types to check whether the ride comfort suits you.
The V6 is holding up well and the key is making sure its oil was changed on schedule. That means every nine months or 15,000km, so insist on a perfect service log book, preferably with Toyota stamps. Services are cheap so there's no excuse.
AT-X models in particular may have started life as rental or fleet car, so may not have had the same love as privately owned cars. Favour Aurions bought privately and aim for a higher grade if funds allow.
The foot-operated parking brake is annoying, especially for those with dodgy knees. Those seeking Isofix child seat mounts will need a post-June 2016 model.
Look out for panel damage on Aurions driven and parked by the more mature buyers who favour this model.
If your potential purchase has been used for towing (it will handle 1600kg), Toyota says the transmission fluid should be checked every 45,000km or 36 months, rather than 90,000km/72 months.
The Aurion was recalled in August 2012 for a potential fuel hose leak, affecting only cars built up to July 2012.
Reliable, spacious and with plenty of grunt from the V6, the Aurion may be a dull choice but is a good one for the money.
Ask yourself whether you really need the thirstier V6. There are greater choices among four-cylinder Camrys or Camry Hybrids.
Avoid the entry-level AT-X to get a better luxury experience - go for a Sportivo if you enjoy back-road playtime. And don't settle for anything but a perfect service record.
GRAEME WILSON: I upgraded from a 2002 Camry V6 that's still in the family. My Aurion is comfortable front and back, with wide-opening doors for easy access. I have been pleasantly surprised with its performance, economy (mid 7.0L to low 8.0L/100km when touring and 8.75L overall) and general running costs. The original tyres look like lasting 90,000km-plus. This car is a keeper.
GARRY SPEARS: My Aurion is roomy (the boot too) and comfortable to drive with great sound insulation in the cabin. Road-holding is good, there's power to spare and fuel consumption is extremely good. I still have the original brake pads and I'll get 80,000km from a set of tyres.
TERRY CARR: My second Presara, a 2017 version, was streets ahead of the first. On both, the foot operated parking brake was a hassle. It's a pleasure to drive - the reversing camera with guidelines has been of considerable benefit. The auto dimming lights generally work well. The satnav is second to none - getting lost is impossible. The audio is superior to the music we hear on Australian radio so I appreciate the Bluetooth capability and USB ports (shame about losing Pandora).
Toyota Australia claimed the Aurion had Lexus-like build quality and comfort. Known as the 50 Series, and solely V6 front-drive auto, it sold more than 30,000 here (and many more were exported from Altona), The best year was 2012, with nearly 7500 in the eight months it was on sale.
Among used listings, the base-grade AT-X accounts for nearly half, with the upspec Presara making up 15 per cent. The Touring is the rarest grade, with about one in 20.
For 2012 examples, the AT-X asks about $12,250 ($36,490 new) and the Presara $17,850 ($49,990 new). For 2017, the AT-X is $25,150 (new price unchanged) and the Presara is $34,700 ($50,440 new).
The Aurion's resale value for 2012 models compares favourably with the Holden Commodore (a close second), Ford Falcon, Peugeot 508 and Skoda Superb. For 2017, the final year for Aurion and Commodore, the Holden has higher resale, potentially due to collectability.
A new-generation Superb holds value better than the Aurion and only the 508 trails the 2017 Aurion. - Red Book
TOYOTA AURION 2012-17
PRICE NEW $36,490-$50,440
SAFETY 5 stars
ENGINES 3.5-litre V6, 200kW/336Nm
TRANSMISSION 6-speed auto; FWD
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