The Avensis has been a consistent top-seller in Ireland for a number of generations and with good reason. It is really well built; ultra reliable and generations of Irish buyers have trusted them as a great family car. They are capable of incredible feats of mileage too, so are a massive favourite of taxi drivers or those who drive for a living.
The second-generation of the Avensis moved on the design of the car greatly as it was one of the first of the mainstream Toyota cars to be designed in Toyota’s European Design Studio and it was designed for a European market. This meant that it was quite a significant departure from the older model and brought the car well in line with competitors like the Ford Mondeo and Volkswagen Passat. It is handsome if not radical.
With this more European focused Avensis there came a better interior. It is quite drab inside, with very plain colour hues used, but the plastics are hard wearing and never really feel brittle. The seats are very comfortable and it is easy to get a good seating position too. There is generous space front and rear. The saloon sold more strongly in the Irish market, so if you spot hatchbacks then it is a good first signal that it might be an import model.
These cars, if they are serviced properly are capable of incredible endurance so it is not unusual to see cars with massive mileage still in service. For this reason, if you are on a tight budget and want something to last a long time an Avensis makes a prudent choice. The early models of this generation were most 1.6-litre petrol powered and these were on the weedy side, but diesel started to become more popular in later versions, when 2.0-litre and 2.2-litre D-4D models became more affordable. These cars are high on safety features too.
Some of its good points can stray into being regarded as bad points because the Avensis would never be accused of being interesting, which is certainly isn’t. The interior is bland, the drive is bland and the styling isn’t particularly interesting. However all of this is more than compensated by the car’s reliability and longevity.
Things to look for
Watch out for noises from the steering rack, which have been reported in some cases. This should be checked out as it can lead to corrosion. Check the rear suspension for damage too as this can be a problem for cars that have tackled lots of speed bumps. Watch out for excessive oil use in early 1.8-litre and 2.0-litre petrol cars after 60,000km. Check the clutch as lots of cars have been used as taxis. Watch out for noisy brakes too.
What you should pay
Prices correct from March 2012.
Early models are mostly petrol, so a 2004 1.6-litre petrol from a main SIMI dealer will cost you as little as €4,000. Move forward a few years and a 2006 diesel from a main Toyota dealer will set you back around €8,000. A 2007 1.6 petrol will cost you around the same. Fresher diesel models command strong money despite being considered as having a high annual motor tax charge.
Expect to pay somewhere in the region of €12,000 for a clean 2008 model in Aura specification. Typically Strata models (identifiable by the addition of alloy wheels) fetch circa €500 over the base model Aura.