Toyota Avensis: automatic for the people

Toyota Avensis Automatic 63

From the urban crawl to gridlocked motorways, the advantages of an automatic transmission are becoming increasingly appreciated in modern motoring.

Recent video productions for Auris and Yaris models have played on this fact, proving the likelihood of an improved relationship with driving when the car is able to shift gears automatically, even encouraging drivers to have a good sing-song.

Motorists are familiar with the continuously variable transmissions fitted to all Toyota models equipped with Hybrid Synergy Drive (Yaris, Auris, Prius, Prius +) but we have discovered that they are less acquainted with the automatic gearbox options for more traditionally-powered models. One of these is the popular Toyota Avensis.

Automatic 04

The current Toyota Avensis is equipped with two automatic gearbox options: Multidrive S transmission on the 147bhp 1.8-litre Valvematic petrol engine, and a six-speed automatic paired with the powerful 150bhp 2.2-litre D-CAT diesel engine.

The former is a continuously variable transmission (CVT) from the K-series family designed to achieve both high fuel efficiency and powertrain performance through size and weight reductions that make it perfect for 1.5- to 1.8-litre engines.

Known internally by its ‘K311’ product code, the transmission shifts imperceptibly through an infinite number of gear ratios by using two cone-shaped pulleys and a high-strength V-shaped steel belt. Each gear is specifically chosen to help the engine work at its most efficient speed given the prevailing road conditions and throttle position. Control logic monitors the incline or decline of the vehicle and adjusts the transmission to either reduce the amount of gear shifting or make the best use of engine braking.

Toyota Avensis automatic technical

Unlike other CVT gearboxes, when the Avensis engine is pressed a little harder, the intelligent K311 simulates the behaviour of a seven-speed automatic, helping to minimise the characteristic whining associated with CVTs under hard acceleration. Those same seven gears can also be accessed in sequential manual mode, which lets the driver decide when to change gear by flicking the shift lever up and down in the M-gate.

Toyota’s aim for the K311 transmission was to set new standards for low noise and computer control software. While the control logic of other CVTs within the Toyota range, for example in the Prius range, have concentrated on fuel economy, Multidrive S adds an additional layer of driver involvement as well as reduced engine ‘flare’ during acceleration.

Toyota Avensis automatic

The six-speed automatic gearbox on the 2.2-litre D-CAT diesel Avensis is known by its ‘U660E’ product code and is one of the most recent additions to the acclaimed U-series transmission family. As such, it represents the pinnacle of Toyota’s Super ECT (Electronically Controlled Transmission) technology for front-wheel drive vehicles, which integrates the electronics of the gearbox with the engine’s own computer system. In other words, by sharing electronic data and adapting accordingly, Super ECT ensures that the engine and gearbox work together more efficiently, reliably and smoothly.

But there is much more to the U660E transmission than being able to understand binary code. Its inclusion of the world’s first ultra-flat torque converter means the gearbox is just 384mm long and has a wet weight of 94.5kg. It also incorporates high-precision yet low-friction oil flow management through an advanced electromagnetic linear solenoid.

Toyota Avensis automatic technical

As you can see from the flow diagram above, that control, together with precise information about vehicle and engine speed, throttle position, engine temperature and even the incline of the road, is used to improve shift quality, response time and fuel economy. Toyota has named this adaptability Artificial Intelligence Shift Control.

Though perfectly developed for stress-free driving, the U660E transmission also includes features that endear it to enthusiastic drivers. D-mode can be temporarily overriden with a flick of the ‘-‘ paddle on the steering wheel to prepare for overtaking or cornering, while a press of the Sport button triggers a more aggressive shift pattern in the AI-Shift Control programming.

Toyota Avensis automatic steering wheel

In addition, a deliberate moving of the gear lever into the M-gate allows the driver to instruct gearchanges using the lever or paddles; super-fast downshifts being accompanied by a pleasing throttle blip. This manual mode provides lock-up in gears two through six and the transmission will hold on to each ratio right up to the red line.

So whether you prefer petrol or diesel power, CVT or a traditional automatic gearbox, the Toyota Avensis offers a balance between responsiveness, smoothness and, of course, fuel efficiency.


  1. As a D-CAT Avensis owner (formerly a Merc owner), I can say that this is one of the best auto systems I have driven.

  2. Hello David
    Thanks for your post.
    It is great to hear your feedback about Avensis ownership and that you are enjoying the car.

    1. Hi Harley,
      Thank you for taking the time to post. Currently the Avensis is equipped with only two automatic gear box options: Multidrive S transmission on the 147 bhp 1.8 litre Valvematic petrol engine and a six-speed automatic paired with the 150 bhp 2.2 litre D-Cat diesel engine. I hope this helps clarify and if you have any other questions please let us know.

  3. Hi Frank,

    Thanks for your post. As the CVT transmission has no physical gears, there is no clutch. However, the CVT transmission fitted to the new Avensis does have a torque converter. We hope this helps.

  4. Hi I have 2011 reg Toyota avensis it’s done 140000 miles and it jerks when I put it in reverse gear and it won’t drive forward in drive it just revs up but car won’t move .could someone help. Many thanks

    1. Hi there,

      Thanks for getting in touch and we are sorry to hear that you are experiencing some issues. We would advise for you to contact your local Toyota Centre regarding an inspection, as they will be able to assist you further.


  5. Driven avensis models, series 1,2 and 3,petrol and diesel all manual, I now have a series 3 (2009),its the 2.2 diesel with automatic transmission, and I absolutely love it, its smooth, if you want to drive a bit,put it in sport use the paddles and its enough for me, it’s a dream in stop start traffic,.

    1. Hi there,

      Thanks for getting in touch. In this case it is likely to be personal preference. We would recommend test driving both to make the best decision for you.


  6. Hi I have toyota avensis estate automatic 2016 last shape made . I have gear box issue when car is warm up at traffic light moving brake of first gear take scound to engage. I have to whait for the gear first to engage so I can give some gas to move of smooth. If I do give gas before like with out waiting I get little bang like giving little gas and select the Drive by hand .
    If you can help

    1. Hi Ahmed,

      Thanks for getting in touch and sorry to hear about your vehicle.

      Please contact your nearest Toyota centre so they can inspect your vehicle.


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