Toyota Avanza review
Transport for the people
You have to give the Toyota Avanza its due – there are very few vehicles that come close in the cost-per-seat ratio. As an affordable family vehicle, this makes it almost impossible to beat.
The biggest single selling point of the Avanza has to be the seats. This is a traditional MPV, where it offers people moving ability above all else, without pretending to be an SUV or anything other than what it is.
It’s also cheap to run and it keeps on ticking for hundreds of thousands of kilometres – or it wouldn’t be such a common sight on our roads, used as taxis, office runabouts and delivery vans, as well as by families who use it all year for the school run and then load it up when the holidays come around.
Apart from the seating, one of the secrets to the Avanza’s popularity is the rugged, almost bulletproof little engines. The entry-level option is a 1.3-litre petrol unit that puts out 71kW of power and 121Nm of torque, while using a claimed average of just 6.1l of petrol per 100km on the combined cycle. It’s a great little engine, but the more popular option is the 1.5-litre, also a petrol unit, that produces a bit more power (77kW) and torque (138Nm). It uses a claimed 6.3l/100km (6.7l on the 1.5 AT model) on the combined cycle, but the marginal increase in average fuel consumption is definitely offset by the extra torque, which makes driving with a load that much more relaxed. Both engines are paired with five-speed manual gearboxes, and there is a four-speed automatic option with the range-topping 1.5 SX model.
A lot of thought has gone into the interior of the Avanza, to make sure it has everything that a family needs or wants to make life easier. There are storage compartments all over the place, and the interior has been designed from hard-wearing plastics that can stand up to the rigours of babies and children, and even pets.
Likewise, the safety aspect of things is well catered for by a combination of ISOFIX anchors for child seats, two front airbags, seat-belt warnings, Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), and an Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with Brake Assist (BA) and Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD). This is an impressive blend of passive and active safety features, especially when the vehicle’s price is taken into consideration, and resulted in a four-star rating from the Global NCAP tests.
What do you want most on a long journey? A comfortable ride, and the Avanza delivers in this regard, the lengthy wheelbase soaking up all but the worst imperfections in the road’s surface. Despite this supple suspension, the Avanza doesn’t suffer from body roll in corners, thanks in no small part to a revised suspension setup that features a MacPherson strut up front and multi-link in the rear.
The entry-level S spec-level is quite utilitarian and more suited to a business, but still features all of the safety technology as well as comfort features such as remote central locking, power steering and electric windows (driver). The 1.3 SX gets the addition of air-conditioning and electric, colour-coded mirrors.
For R238 300 you can buy a brand new Avanza 1.3 S, while for another R18 000 you can upgrade to the 1.3 SX (R256 200). The 1.5 X is R263 900, and if you want an automatic the 1.5 SX AT tops off the range at R283 800. All models come standard with a service plan of 4 services/60 000km, as well as a 3-year/100 000km warranty.
Comprehensive list of electronic driver aids.