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What Car? says

4 out of 5 stars

For A reliable car with plenty of interior space and kit

Against Restless ride. The interior is drab and dull

Verdict A reliable family car, but not the most inspiring to drive

Go for… 1.8 GLS

Avoid… S trim

Toyota Avensis Estate
  • 1. Pre-2000 models with low miles have reported problems with the gearbox
  • 2. There have been problems with the power steering system, so check it carefully on your test drive
  • 3. The steering wheel only adjusts for rake, but the controls are well laid out
  • 4. Headroom in the back is better than in the hatch, thanks to the higher roof
  • 5. The large, well-shaped boot is a match for its rivals'
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Toyota Avensis Estate full review with expert trade views

The Avensis is a reliable, sturdy family car that goes about its business with little fuss. Rear legroom is up with the best in the class and the estate doesn’t have the same sloping roofline as the saloon, so headroom in the back is good. The large, well-shaped boot is a match for its rivals' and the cargo space can be easily extended thanks to a split-folding seat. The downside is that there's nothing very attractive - visually at least - about the cabin, and the steering wheel adjusts for rake only, but at least everything is easy to use, with big-button controls, clear dials and good oddment stowage.

However, the real shortcomings are most obvious on the road. Most of the engines are too noisy, the gearshift is rubbery and there’s a lot of wind and road noise. The Avensis will sit happily on a motorway, but on any other surface the ride doesn’t settle, particularly over undulating roads. The steering is also vague and over-light.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

Finding a clean one is difficult as many have ended up as a taxi

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

The Avensis was launched with four engines: a 1.6, 1.8 and 2.0-litre petrol and a 2.0-litre turbodiesel.

In 2000, the diesel was replaced by a 2.0-litre D-4D engine, the 1.6 and 1.8-litre petrol engines were replaced by new VVT-i units, the 2.0-litre got a power hike, all models were facelifted and prices were lowered. Our favourite is the flexible 1.8 petrol.

Trim levels start with S, which has electric front windows, remote locking and twin airbags. GS adds a sunroof and air-con, GLS gets a CD player and four electric windows (making this our pick of the bunch), while CDX has alloy wheels and a leather interior. Most versions have standard sat-nav. SR trim is available on only the 2.0-litre petrol or diesel engines and has alloys, a bodykit and sports interior.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Great value for budget buyers with lots of ex-company 2.0 GLSs around

James Ruppert
Used car guru

Long major service intervals will help keep the bills down and even when your Avensis does go in for some TLC, it won’t cost as much as many cars in the class to repair. Parts are cheap and readily available.

Insurance costs are among the best in the class. Most models sit in groups 7 to 9 and even the range-topping 2.0-litre petrol SR model sits in group 10. Fuel bills won’t cost you a fortune, either. The 1.8-litre petrol will return between 36-38mpg, which is about average for the class.

As for private buyers, because there are so many used examples around, both privately and in the trade, you should be able to secure a very good price.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

Finding a clean one is difficult as many have ended up as a taxi

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

Toyota has a fine reputation for reliability and the Avensis preserves that. That's certainly the impression you get from the interior. The materials are of good quality and the whole thing is built to last.

The only real problems we’ve heard of have been with the gearbox, which has mainly affected the early models (pre-2000) and at low miles. But if you go for a model with more than 10,000 miles on the clock, it should be fine.

Warranty Direct backs this up and its report shows that transmission problems have accounted for quite a few repairs to Avensis models built between 1997 and 2003. There have also been a few reports of power steering leaks on R- and S-reg cars, but they are few and far between.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Great value for budget buyers with lots of ex-company 2.0 GLSs around

James Ruppert
Used car guru
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