Which MPV should a couple buy: Toyota Avanza or Chevrolet Spin?

By Botchi Santos

Dear Mr. Botchi Santos:

Good day to you. My wife and I are planning to buy our first family vehicle that can handle five passengers, but have enough space for another two (just in case) or for common family luggage needed for outings. We have the following considerations:

* budget (around P850,000);

* garage space;

* car-like driving experience;

* automatic transmission (my wife prefers AT because she'll use it most of the time in Metro Manila)

We've fixed our eyes on two specific models: Toyota Avanza and Chevrolet Spin. I like the latter for it is new and has good looks, but my wife wants the former. She's got a point considering after-sales service and parts availability. Her officemates tell her that a Chevrolet vehicle's value depreciates quickly. I have my own points that my wife has also considered, but the battle is now a deadlock.

Now, since we both read your articles (and we really like them), and it seems your advice matters much, we are very sorry (in advance) for putting you in the hot seat for a tiebreaker vote. We want to make a decision fast because the Spin, as you already know, is having an introductory price promo until October 19 only, and the Avanza, on the other hand, has just had its price increased to P877,000 (based on Toyota's website).

We have another question for you: Why is it that both vehicles have the same kind of engine (VVT-i, in-line four-cylinder DOHC 16V with almost the same displacement) but produce different torque and power? By comparing their brochures, I've learned that the Spin has the upper hand in this department. Does it really matter especially when it comes to fuel efficiency? And still with regard to fuel efficiency, based on their claims, the Spin is better than the Avanza.

I'm looking forward to your advice, and thanks in advance. More power to you and to Top Gear Philippines! God bless us all!

Danny Iglesia


Hi, Danny. Thank you for your e-mail.

Unfortunately, I have yet to drive the Chevrolet Spin, so I can't objectively comment on its performance. But I have to admit that I have been very impressed with Chevrolet's current vehicle lineup, so the Spin should carry the banner well for the American brand.

Regarding the output figures, it's actually difficult to explain precisely why their engine outputs vary despite having the same displacement.

One possibility is the method of testing or rating used. Japanese, German, Italian and American auto industry standards use different equipment to measure the output of an engine, hence the calibrations can be slightly different from one another. There are also different units of measurement (PS or Pferdestärke in German, which translates to hp or horsepower for the unit of measurement used in America, and kW or kilowatt for the metric unit of measurement used by other countries). When translating or converting one unit of measurement to another, some things get lost in translation, I guess.

Another possibility is fuel quality. Should you read the fine print, certain manufacturers specify a certain fuel quality/level to achieve the advertised engine output. In the case of Chevrolet versus Toyota, perhaps Chevrolet tested its engines using a higher-quality fuel, whereas Toyota chose a lower-quality fuel in the interest of representing the budgets of the typical Avanza buyers.

Lastly, the truth is that all engines will have varying power outputs. Typically, it should be plus or minus 1-2% of their advertised output. A manufacturer will test the engines randomly and see their actual specific outputs. The manufacturer will then get the relevant range, and list the engines as producing a horsepower figure that represents the mean figure or average output in a batch of engines they tested.

Other manufacturers (Porsche and Toyota as examples) list their engine outputs with the lowest, most conservative reading they got in a test run of a batch of engines.

Lastly, the tuning matters. The saying, "A candle that burns twice as bright lasts half as long," is very true here. Both have 1.5-liter four-cylinder engines, but one is working harder or more stressed to produce a higher output. This engine will experience greater wear and tear compared to the other engine. All things being equal, the harder-working engine will not last as long. But then, other factors come into play: the quality of the harder-working engine's cooling and lubrication system; the air, fuel and oil filtration systems; and the quality of the metals used to build the engine and its internals--plus the overall balance of the engine. All these will help determine an engine's longevity.

My apologies if this sounds confusing, but it is an interesting question we've been asked quite often here at Top Gear Philippines, and I thought I'd help shed some light on the matter.

But for you, the bottom line is this: Both you and the missus should test-drive both cars. I can't tell you what to buy; I merely give the pros and the cons. Although I often tell people what I would get if I were in their shoes, I do so carefully by listing my prerequisites and specific needs, which help shape or determine my choices. These very same prerequisites and needs might be irrelevant or lower down the list for other people, so I always tell readers to test-drive the cars they are looking at.

I hope this helps. Anyway, your fellow readers could help you come up with a choice by taking the poll below. Good luck and be safe.

Botchi Santos
Consumer Editor

Do you want Botchi to help you pick the right car? Send your inquiry to [email protected].

Which MPV should Danny and his wife get?


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Filter comments by:
  • Josh Miranda Sep 11 2013 @ 05:56am
    I would definitely go for Avanza. :)
    • evapsao Sep 14 2013 @ 01:19pm
      I agree, I'll go likewise for toyota avanza
  • codemonkey23 Sep 11 2013 @ 08:31am
    if this is your first car sir, go with toyota.. then kung experienced kna sa mga sasakyan then invest on the new competitors.. safe choice lagi ang toyota thats why marami silang nabebenta..

  • camebeyond Sep 11 2013 @ 09:03am
    Too bad the 1.0 eco boast engine is on their list... Its coming though..
    • vgpena Sep 11 2013 @ 11:17am
      Ecoboost are Ford engines right?
      • camebeyond Sep 12 2013 @ 11:04am
        I mean its not on their list and yeah its ford and its coming soon they say
  • markdejesus76 Sep 11 2013 @ 02:10pm
    Chevrolet Spin. Toyota Avanza may be a bit more efficient, pero mas comfortable yung Spin. Yung tradeoffs sa dalawa, minimal lang bukod sa cost. BTW, yung sa testing ng mga sasakyan, ang alam ko, tested sila on 95 Octane Rating minimum. Kung tataas kasi budget, mas okay sana Innova.
  • Kyoichi Sudo Sep 11 2013 @ 07:39pm
    Go for the Toyota Avanza. Unlike the Chevy, its easier to find spare parts of Toyota when you'll be needing to and space is decent and enough for family use. And you get a lot more features in the Avanza than the Spin w/c in your case, the the base 1.3L diesel manual is the only option in your budget...
    • Josh Miranda Sep 11 2013 @ 08:25pm
      Very true.
  • brylle Sep 12 2013 @ 12:09am
    Go for Chevrolet Spin. Spin is new, new looks and new in the eyes. Avanza are so many in the street and most of them are taxi.
    • Josh Miranda Sep 12 2013 @ 01:04am
      May issue ka sa taxi? Lol
      • myk384 Sep 12 2013 @ 09:48am
        Oo nga, very sick and tired of this taxi issue
    • Kyoichi Sudo Sep 12 2013 @ 04:26pm
      The Avanza was made to be a taxi, just like the Vios...
      • Josh Miranda Sep 13 2013 @ 05:10am
        Wow, really? Since when? So Toyota said that "Hey consumers, this models that we made is only for taxis blah blah blah". That's BS. Seriously.
  • mgr366 Sep 12 2013 @ 11:08am
    Im averaging 7.9 km/liter for avanza (Gas), and 8.2 km/liter for montero (Diesel) on a 40km a day trip averaging 3.5 to 4 hours on the road.
    • Kyoichi Sudo Sep 12 2013 @ 04:30pm
      Still depends on how you drive. If you stop at traffic leaving the gear on Drive, & if you always drive faster than te usual way on the city, you'll surely be having those kind of figures on a 1.5 Avanza and on a 2.5 CRDI Montero Sport...
      • mgr366 Sep 13 2013 @ 08:32am
        im the kuripot kind of guy behind the wheels =) 10Km per hour (moderate to heavy traffic as always).
  • mgr366 Sep 12 2013 @ 11:10am
    if only i have a spin so i can give you details so we can compare apples to apples the fuel efficiency of both cars.
  • triple4 Sep 12 2013 @ 11:39am
    For practical reasons, go with the Avanza but if you want to be different then Spin na lang.
  • GotToRead Sep 12 2013 @ 02:30pm
    As I always say on first time car buyers, it's always safe to choose from Japanese car brands. Why? Reliability, dependability, availability on parts, good resale value, practicality and peace of mind. If you're more experienced and keen for better equipped car, go for the Chevy.
  • twenk123 Sep 13 2013 @ 03:35pm
    For 850K, Innova's the way to go... but that's just me.

    But if strictly between those two only, I'd bring home the Spin. Easier for the elderly and children to get in.
  • xxgrendel Sep 13 2013 @ 07:57pm
    thinking its my first car, it would be something to brag, maybe i'd go for looks. so i'd go for the spin. avanza's are everywhere.well its just me.
  • evapsao Sep 14 2013 @ 01:19pm
    good afternoon guys, I a owned a Toyota Avanza 1.3L J Model 2010. I got a fuel effieciency of 14km/liter (with 95octane rating fuel in my tank) drive including driving within davao city. until now, i do not experience trouble in my vehicle. although this model is not so presentable as the spin, still i love this car, toyota engines has always its extra power in the road. lastly, no problem of after sales service and the resale value is quite good. thank you and hope it will matter your choice pal.
    • Josh Miranda Sep 16 2013 @ 10:47pm
      vey well said tsong
  • nicologarcia Sep 16 2013 @ 06:33pm
    Last July, I was privileged enough to ride a Chevy Spin taxicab in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I must say, that thing is huge inside (compared to the Avanza) and rather comfortable too. Considering that it is a budget MPV, the NVH levels are quite good (again, better than the Avanza's). I think the Chevy Spin in itself is a better car than the Avanza because the latter literally rides like a taxicab, whereas the Spin behaves like a nice family car.

    The after-sales, however, is a different story.
  • wart_les Sep 17 2013 @ 10:29am
    The husband and wife should AGREE by tossing a COIN by at least 3 tossing and the majority wins...The AVANZA and SPIN are competitors in this department. Though AVANZA is a bit pioneered in here and tested over its reliability, the SPIN made sure to EVEN those features of AVANZA and offered some more with almost the same price.
  • Alib Sep 23 2013 @ 10:31pm
    Wow... Danny we have almost the same dilemma except that I am also looking at Crosswind XT (old model but reliable).

    I am going to test drive the Spin hopefully this weekend. I just did a test drive on Avanza and Crosswind. The power was miles apart of course but the Avanza was more comfortable and stylish. The Crosswind still felt like I was driving a Revo. Although the test drive was only for ~2KM so it wasn't really that exhaustive.

    As far as I know, Avanza is in partnership with Daihatsu so you get the Daihatsu engine on your Toyota (not that it matters but just throiwing it out there).

    I was impressed with the Spin features esp. the 1.5 AT Gas version which is slightly more expensive than the Avanza. Just in case for those who would like to know Chevy Spin - http://chevy.com.ph/spin-features-and-specs :)

    If you already got one let me know as well. Thanks.
  • docsebo Oct 11 2013 @ 09:08pm
    hi. i test drove the chevy spin. first thing i noticed was that the map light was broken. second, the aircon was weak even at max setting. lastly, there was a high pitched loud irritating whirring sound from the engine heard thru the vents every 5 seconds. the sales reps called a tech guy who couldn't explain the sound. for a brand new unit, it was a big disappointment. what do you guys think?
  • poroomer Oct 24 2013 @ 12:17pm
    Just bought a chevy spin, very comfortable vs avanza (meron din akong avanza eh)
    9-12 avg sa fuel, iba-iba kasi ang daloy ng trapiko (electric yung steering ng spin, kaya siguro medyo mas tipid)
    Daming aircon, malaki ang space
    Extended yung promo nila, kaya PhP 838,888 pa rin yung A/T 1.5 LTZ
    Para sa akin Chevy Spin
  • gesanchez 3 months ago
    Sir Botchi what about the new ERTIGA vs. SPIN? Would love to hear your thoughts.

  • stan 2 months ago
    the 877K avanza is a 1.5 engine w/c is less fuel efficient compared to spin w/ 1.3 diesel engine.. so its more fuel efficient plus you can save P10-12/L on your budget.. also spin is a bit bigger than avanza... spin cost higher than avanza but in the long run you can save more money.. and also the automatic spin have a semi manual mode so you can shift from automatic driving to manual driving w/c also decrease your fuel consumption...

    w/ avanza on the other hand, they also have a 1.3 engine that cost 757K automatic...and its alot less than the spin w/c is 918k something. its fuel efficient as well but not as efficient as the spin.. advantage: easier to find spare parts..

    so if i have enough budget i'd go for spin. because i would actually be spending less in the long run..
    but if i have a tight budget i'd go for avanza..
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