Toyota Avensis 2009-2018 used car review

The Toyota Avensis is spacious and cheap to run. It is practical to drive. It is the perfect family car.

Richard Edwards
Richard Edwards
Expert Reviewer | Auto Media Group

The Toyota Avensis is spacious and cheap to run. It is practical, rather than great, to drive. It is the perfect family car.

Exterior full starfull starfull starfull starempty star

4

Drive full starfull starfull starempty starempty star

3

Safety full starfull starfull starfull starfull star

5

Value full starfull starfull starfull starempty star

4

Interior full starfull starfull starfull starempty star

4

Overall score 4.0 / 5

The good
  • Very efficient engine and transmission combination
  • Excellent safety specifications
  • Huge load capacity
The not-so-good
  • Soft and a little dull to drive
  • Could do with more power

The Toyota Avensis is a European-designed and UK-built station wagon. A sedan is also made, although it's not sold in New Zealand or any countries we regularly source vehicles from. The station wagon is sold in New Zealand mostly to fleets, while private buyers prefer SUVs of this size.

Inside and out

This generation Avensis looks longer and sportier than its predecessor with a long, angular bonnet and a roofline that slopes down towards the rear. The rear is squarish in shape; the tailgate is wide and cuts deep into the bumper. Alloy wheels are standard.

The interior is spacious and a light-toned ceiling adds to the roomy feeling.

Interior plastics are hard, although they seem to be of reasonable quality. The dash cluster features a central information screen and large, easy-to-read gauges - oddly, these are coloured orange. The centre console is finished in a wood-like material that looks premium. A large lidded cubby hole sits forward of the gear shifter.

All seating is firm yet comfortable and reasonably supportive. The driver's seat is manually adjustable for height and lumbar support adjustment is electric. In the rear seat, head and legroom are good and, although there is enough width for three adults, the raised centre section makes it less comfortable for the middle passenger.

At 543 litres, the boot is enormous - one of the largest we have seen in a car that is not an SUV. The low floor height means it's easy to load. There are tie-down points to secure loads and a pass-through port in the seat for longer items. The rear seat splits 60/40 and folds forward.

On the road

Only one engine and transmission are available in local and Japan-sold Avensis vehicles: a 2-litre four-cylinder petrol paired to a CVT automatic that can be shifted using the usual shifter or steering wheel-mounted paddles through seven pre-set ratios. At 112kW and 196Nm, there is enough power for around town or reasonable open road performance, although it does need to be worked reasonably hard.

The transmission, like most CVTs, is smooth and stepless. This generation Avensis is set up for comfort rather than dynamics. The suspension is soft and soaks up bumps well, but that does mean the car leans a little in corners. There are better options if you want a sporty wagon. The steering is very light and doesn't offer a lot of feel. Road noise levels are very low.

The narrow rear windows are typically tinted and, because this is a large car, parking can be a little tricky. Reversing cameras are standard on all but the base-model Japanese import cars. The system fitted to New Zealand-new cars has helpful guidelines to assist manoeuvres.

The Avensis has an average tow rating for a vehicle of this size - 500kg unbraked (a small garden trailer) and 1,800kg braked (a small-to-medium trailer boat).

Safety

The Avensis carries a full five-star ANCAP rating. Technically, that only applies to New Zealand-new models, though Japanese models have a similar level of safety equipment. It includes front, side, driver's knee and curtain airbags, electronic stability control, emergency brake assist and electronic brakeforce distribution. 

From 2016, New Zealand-new cars are fitted with Toyota Safety Sense, which includes blind-spot detection, lane-keeping assist and a collision warning system.

ISOFIX child seat mounts and top tethers are found in the window positions at the back. All three rear seats feature full shoulder-type belts, which offer more protection than the lap-only type.

Reliability

This generation Avensis is relatively new, so few issues have been confirmed at this point. The engine uses a timing chain which will not require regular replacement.

The only concerns we had was on the quality of the interior, with the hard plastics coming loose and causing rattles. There have also been reports of leaks in the boot door, so check for signs of water damage.

Cost of ownership

Toyota recommends servicing the Avensis every year or 15,000km, whichever comes first. A dealer quoted us $260 for this work, low for this size of car.

The smaller engine and CVT automatic has made this generation Avensis very frugal compared to the previous version. RightCar estimates that over 14,000km of driving a year, you will spend $1,990 on fuel. The 60-litre fuel tank will cost $120 to fill at $2 a litre and should take you 770km before the fuel light comes on. Models from the 2016 update use $100 less over that period.

A vehicle licence for the Avensis costs $76.92 a year, with the car in the cheapest ACC levy group.

Trade Me Insurance estimates insurance for an Avensis valued at $19,470 will cost $53.60* per month, almost the same as a Mazda6.

Buyers' guide

The Toyota Avensis is available on Trade Me from $12,000 to $36,000 for New Zealand-new models. The single-specification new version is priced at $38,190 plus on-road costs.

New Zealand models

Avensis - Features 16-inch alloy wheels, leather steering wheel, cruise control, CD player stereo, separate climate control settings for driver and passenger, keyless entry and start, reversing camera and fabric trim.

Japanese models

  • Xi - Features steel wheels, leather steering wheel, cruise control, CD player stereo, separate climate control settings for driver and passenger, keyless entry and start, and fabric trim.
  • Li - Adds fog lights, leather interior, chrome trim, reversing camera, wood trim, electric lumbar support and high-intensity headlights.

Timeline

  • 2009 Launched in Europe
  • 2011 Sales begin in Japan
  • 2012 Given cosmetic facelift
  • 2015 Facelifted again, with a new front design.
  • 2015 Toyota Safety Sense system added, including blind-spot detection, lane-keeping assist and collision warning system.

Details

Review vehicle

2013 Toyota Avensis Tourer Li

Price

$14,000 to $21,000 for models which have travelled 70,000 to 120,000km

Engine

2-litre four-cylinder, 112kW and 196NM

Transmission

CVT automatic, front-wheel drive

Safety rating

Five-star ANCAP

Servicing

15,000km or twelve months

Spare wheel

Space saver

Fuel economy

7.1-litres per 100km (claimed)

Fuel type

Premium

Length

4780mm

Width

1810mm

Height

1480mm

Towing capacity

500kg (unbraked), 1800kg (braked)

Turning circle

10.8m

This review covers the Toyota Avensis for model years 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.

Review vehicle supplied by Turners Cars.

*Our insurance estimates are based on a 35-year-old male with no accidents in the last two years, garaging the car in Mission Bay, Auckland. The car is not used for business and will cover 10,000km to 20,000km a year. We estimate with no option add-ons and $500 excess. Customise your estimate at Trade Me Insurance.

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Richard Edwards
Richard Edwards
Expert Reviewer | Auto Media Group

I've been writing about the automotive industry for 16 years, and lead a range of publications through Auto Media Group. I play with my 1984 Toyota MR2 and travel in my downtime.

Opinions are my own and not those of Trade Me.