THE Toyota Avensis is one of those cars that some people discount because of its rather bland styling.
But my experience is that they are excellent cars to drive and to live with and the last series, built between 2009 and 2018, is as good as or better than most competitors.
Add the fact that it's a Toyota - i.e. almost bulletproof and hugely reliable - and you have quite a bargain a few years down the road - given the very necessary full service history of course.
The Avensis has always been a cracking car to drive for me, with marvellous handling and beautifully informative power steering.
Some tend to dismiss it as uninspiring to drive, but they couldn't be more wrong, and I would venture to suggest that they might not know how to get the best from their wheels.
It was built in Britain at the Toyota factory at Burnaston near Derby - and for those who like to 'fly the flag' that's another bonus.
There is a confusing range of 14 different models and I have no intention of going through them. So all I can say is, make sure you have all the bells and whistles you want before you lay your money down or sign on the dotted line.
There is a decent range of petrol and diesel engines but the majority on the secondhand market seem to be diesels from what I can see. That's not surprising because many of these started their lives as company cars.
Petrol models start with a 1.6 which had no less than 130bhp and covers the 0 to 60 miles an hour sprint in 10.1 seconds, while managing 42 miles per gallon.
Later in the production period there's just one other petrol, a 1.8 with 143bhp that covers the sprint in a very good 9.1 seconds and should also do 42mpg at best.
Diesels are 1.6, 2.0 and 2.2-litres and like the petrols were sold with either a six-speed manual gearbox, a seven-speed automatic or a continuously variable automatic.
The 1.6 has 110bhp and can cover the 60 sprint in 11 seconds while giving economy of 67mpg.
The 2.0-litre has 124bhp and brings the sprint down to 9.4 seconds while averaging 62mpg and most 2.2 models will have 147bhp. They get to 60mph in 8.6 seconds and should average 52mpg.
As I said above, all are good to drive and the petrols sound brilliant when revved.
But diesel performance is right up there with them or better, even if they don't have the same aural soundtrack.
It's worth mentioning that while the petrols are not as economical as the diesels, they will be a good deal cheaper secondhand and, if you don't do long mileages each year, will probably be the better bet.
The road-holding is excellent, with tremendous grip even when pushed mercilessly and the ride is comfortable over the worst of surfaces at speed and when pootling around town.
Inside, the cabin has an upmarket feel with impressive refinement and very comfortable seats even over long hauls.
The driving position is comfortable for all shapes, there is plenty of space for a family of five and there's a good size boot with a split folding rear seat in both the saloon and the Tourer estate.
All have an alarm, alloy wheels, audio remote controls, traction control, stability control, aircon or climate, electric windows and remote locking.
Move on up the range and you'll get Bluetooth, automatic headlights and wipers, leather and sat nav.
Pay around Â£6,500 for a '14 14-reg 1.8 V-Matic active petrol, or Â£10,500 for a '17 17-reg 2.0 D-4D Design.