There are a lot of words to describe the past generations of the Toyota Avanza. It’s simple, utilitarian, and no-nonesense. However, those models were also more like utility vehicles than actual MPVs. The ride was harsh, it felt unrefined, and the driving experience was, well, not so good.
The Avanza’s shortcomings were highlighted by its competitors. Sure, it sold well, but strong sales do not always equal greatness. But now, there’s an all-new Avanza, and it aims to erase all of its previous shortcomings.
What we have here is the range-topping 1.5 G CVT variant. So just how all-new is this Avanza? The chassis, for starters, no longer has a frame. It’s now a proper unibody like all its competitors. And, here’s the shocker: It’s front-wheel-drive now. But more on that later.
The design is revolutionary. If anything, it looks more like a baby Innova than a successor of the outgoing model. I mean, put these two side by side and your reaction will be: This is an Avanza?
And here’s something we never thought we’d say this about an Avanza: It looks good. Just look at all those sharp lines at the front, the creases on the side, and the rear looks just right. Again: This is an Avanza?
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You will have the same reaction when you step inside the new MPV. Yes, it’s all hard plastic, but this isn’t supposed to have an Alphard-like interior. All it has to do is be better than the old version, and Toyota did its homework here.
The design is more car-like than ever. You don’t feel like you’re in a utility vehicle anymore. The best part is the driving position is much improved: This is no longer a mini-truck disguised as a family wagon. This being an MPV, there are loads of cubby spaces. You get cupholders right in front of the AC vents, a sizable box just under the radio, and a neat little shelf above the glovebox.
That said, the faux carbon fiber on the center console has to go. To all manufacturers: If your car has zero sporty inclinations, don’t put faux carbon fiber in. And while we’re ranting, why no seat height adjuster? It’s 2022. Sure, the Avanza’s competitors don’t have it, but that’s no excuse. Besides, the Veloz has it, so it’s possible to fit it here.
The infotainment, at least, is decent for its segment. The screen is easy to use, if a bit laggy sometimes. But all you have to know is it has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. And if you prefer not to use those, there’s Bluetooth and smartphone connectivity.
If you compare this new Avanza to the previous one, the space is much better. That’s the advantage of shifting to the unibody, front-wheel-drive platform. The packaging is more efficient, and it’s reflected in the room. The best part is, these seats slide fore and aft. As for features, you have a blower (a must in this weather) and these neat high-mounted cupholders (a smart idea). Oh, you have charging ports here, too, so you won’t run out of charge during a road trip.
In the third row, it’s what you expect. It’s tight for tall folks, just right for anyone under 5’5”. But the main highlight here isn’t the space—it’s the mechanism. That’s because the Avanza finally has a fold-flat third row. It’s great for packaging and a space saver, too; no more bulky tumble-forward bench that eats up cargo room. And all you have to do is pull a tab to set or stow it. And the area, it’s almost like first-gen Innova levels. Almost.
The engine is a 1.5-liter unit with 105hp and 138Nm of torque. It sends power to the front wheels and shifts with a CVT. That powertrain combo has raised some eyebrows, even putting doubts about its pulling power. Well, we’re aware it’s no performance car, but an MPV’s role is to carry people and cargo. For that, you need torque, and the Avanza needs more of it.
It’s all right if you’re driving it with three people on board, but once you start piling it up, the MPV starts begging for more grunt. There are no doubts it’ll make it up Baguio, but more pulling power is appreciated. We can only imagine what the 1.3-liter version feels like when loaded. Perhaps that’s better suited as an urban MPV. At least this 1.5-liter makes up for fuel economy: 10-13km/L is easily achievable in moderate traffic, while you’re looking at about 8km/L in really bad congestion.
Ride and handling
If you’re coming from the past two versions of the Avanza, you’re in for a revelation: It is nothing like the older versions, and that’s a great thing. This is a Camry compared with the previous Avanzas, easily making this the most comfortable version of the MPV yet. Seriously, it’s that far ahead.
Even the handling is much better with light controls and drama-free dynamics. It’s not exciting to drive, but for its target audience, that’s not the point. They want something fuss-free, and that’s exactly what it does. Be wary about the brakes, though. They’re a little too excited to bite sometimes.
All in all, the 2022 Avanza no longer has to rely on strong brand power to convince subcompact MPV shoppers. It’s comfortable, far more flexible, versatile, and efficient. Plus, it has a handsome exterior and a better interior. However, we reckon it really needs more torque. Just a few more Newton-meters would make a difference in the Avanza. We suggest you try it before you buy it to see if it feels enough for you.
And if you are convinced, the top-spec Avanza will set you back P1,039,000—a fair value proposition considering all its improvements. Oh, and it scored well in the latest ASEAN NCAP crash tests and has stability control standard, making it one of the safest options for a subcompact MPV. It’s something to consider if you’re looking for a family car, but again, we think more torque would make the all-new Avanza even better.
SPECS: 2022 Toyota Avanza 1.5 G CVT
Engine: 1.5-liter gasoline I4
Power: 105hp @6,000rpm
Torque: 138Nm @4,200rpm
Transmission: continuously variable
Watch our review below:
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