Used Toyota Avensis Estate 1997 - 2004 review

Category: Estate car

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

Toyota Avensis Estate (97 - 04)
  • Toyota Avensis Estate (97 - 04)
  • Toyota Avensis Estate (97 - 04)
Used Toyota Avensis Estate 1997 - 2004 review
Star rating

What's the used Toyota Avensis estate like?

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.


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

  • A reliable car with plenty of interior space and kit
  • Restless ride
  • The interior is drab and dull

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.

Ownership cost

What used Toyota Avensis estate will I get for my budget?

How much does it cost to run a Toyota Avensis estate?

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.

Our recommendations

Which used Toyota Avensis estate should I buy?

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.


What alternatives should I consider to a used Toyota Avensis estate?