We use cookies on whatcar.com to improve your browsing experience and to provide you with relevant content and advertising, by continuing to use our site you agree to this. Please see our privacy policy for more details. Continue

What Car? says

4 out of 5 stars

For Plenty of space, masses of kit and strong reliability

Against Restless ride. The interior is drab and dull

Verdict A reliable family car but not the most inspiring

Go for… 1.8 GLS

Avoid… S trim

Toyota Avensis Saloon
  • 1. Pre-2000 models with low mileages have reported problems with the gearbox
  • 2. Some models have problems with the power steering rack
  • 3. The Avensis's boot space is good compared with its rivals'
  • 4. The steering wheel only adjusts for rake, but the controls are well laid out
  • 5. Worn rear seats or interior trim may suggest the car has been used as a minicab
advertisement

Toyota Avensis Saloon full review with expert trade views

The Avensis needed to be both rep-mobile and family car, and it managed to do both well, and very reliably. Rear legroom is up with the best in the class, but particularly tall passengers might have a problem with headroom because of the sloping roofline in the back. However, the large, well-shaped boot is a match for the Ford Mondeo’s 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 only adjusts for rake. However, everything is easy to use, with big-button controls, clear dials and good oddment stowage.

The car's most major shortcomings only become obvious on the road, as the driving experience doesn't exactly set the world on fire. Most engines are noisy, while the gearshift is rubbery and there’s a lot of wind and road noise. The Avensis cruises well on a motorway, but on other roads it's unsettled, while the steering is vague and over-light.

Trade view

Kurtis Williams

Reliable but ageing. Coarse engines by today's standards. Low running costs

Kurtis Williams
Buyer,
Lex Vehicle Leasing

The Avensis was launched in the UK in 1997 with three bodystyles and, of them, this four-door saloon is our least favourite after the five-door hatch and estate, because it loses out on practicality.

At first, it had a choice of four engines - a 1.6, 1.8 and 2.0-litre petrol and a 2.0-litre turbodiesel - but 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 face-lifted and prices were lowered. Our favourite blend of performance and economy comes from 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, while CDX has alloy wheels and a leather interior. Most versions have standard sat-nav from 2000 on. SR trim is available on only the 2.0-litre petrol or diesel engines brings alloys, a bodykit and sports interior.

Trade view

John Owen

1.6 sluggish, build and reliabilty good, will cover high miles without fuss

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford

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, too. Most models sit between groups 7 and 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.

There are so many used examples around, both privately and in the trade, you should be able to get a cracking deal. So, if you don't like the look of one, wait for a nicer car to come along.

Trade view

Kurtis Williams

Reliable but ageing. Coarse engines by today's standards. Low running costs

Kurtis Williams
Buyer,
Lex Vehicle Leasing

Toyota has a fine reputation for reliability and the Avensis is no exception. That's certainly the impression you get from the interior. The materials are good quality and everything is built to last.

The only real problems we’ve heard of have been with the gearbox, which have mainly affected the early models (pre-2000) and at low miles. But, if you’ve got 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 11% of repairs to the Avensis between 1997 and 2003. There have been a few reports of power steering leaks on R- and S-reg cars, but they are few and far between.

Just make sure you’re not buying an ex-minicab. Signs that you could be include wear to the back seats and interior trim.

Trade view

John Owen

1.6 sluggish, build and reliabilty good, will cover high miles without fuss

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford
Haymarket Logo What Car? is brought to you by Haymarket Consumer Media
What Car? is part of Haymarket Motoring
© Haymarket Media Group 2014