Used Toyota Avensis Saloon 1997 - 2004 review

Category: Family car

A reliable family car but not the most inspiring

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

What's the used Toyota Avensis saloon like?

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.


A reliable family car but not the most inspiring

  • Plenty of space, masses of kit and strong reliability
  • Restless ride
  • The interior is drab and dull

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.

Ownership cost

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

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

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.

Our recommendations

Which used Toyota Avensis saloon should I buy?

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.


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