Toyota Avanza vs. Nissan Livina

One of my favourite new vehicles has always been the Toyota Avanza. When it was introduced it cost just over a hundred grand, has loads of space and it’s a Toyota. Fighting in the same class, but in the opposite corner, is the Nissan Livina. Both are essentially practical budget wagons for people who don’t care what the neighbours think about them and need room for the kids and their labrador.


Neither one claims to be a super car and neither come close. The Livina’s 80 kW of power edges ahead of the Avanza’s 76 (both at 6 000 r/min), but it is in the torque department that the Nissan clearly stands out. The extra 100 cc is good for 12.5% more Nm at a rivalling 4 400 r/min, but the way in which it is delivered is even more evident.

I have no complaints about the five-speed manual of the Nissan, but I am sure the auto ‘box on the Avanza came straight out of my old 1993 Camry 200Si automatic. Four speed, in 2012? Really? Both cars’ engines are a tad noisy at highway speeds, but they can keep up with the traffic. The Avanza was a bit thirsty, but that is to be expected from the automatic shifter.


This is where these cars start to make sense. The Livina has a large luggage space and if you fold the second row of seats flat, you will have to do a lot of shopping to fill it. The Avanza makes up lost points here with a third row, offering seats for seven occupants. In Nissan’s defence, the Grand Livina also takes seven people, but then you pay for it in the looks department.


Both the Livina and Avanza are built to price and it shows in the switchgear. The Avanza’s air conditioning/fan knobs are impossible to figure out and you need to tug on the cable-operated knobs to change the settings. The radio in the Avanza was an aftermarket Kenwood, which gave it a second-hand car dealer feel. The Nissan has an integrated sound system, but neither has multifunctional steering wheels. That being said, I suppose if you want to pay Polo money for a people carrier with ABS, driver and passenger airbags and a three year service plan (all of which comes as standard on both by the way), then you cannot expect X5 or ML luxury. A welcome surprise was the Halogen headlights on the Avanza.


I like practical cars, and I’ve always liked the Avanza for being rear wheel drive and cheap. However, at R177 400 for the Datsun and R191 500 for the Toyota, I’d work a bit harder and get myself a Daihatsu Terios.

For more info, visit: or

Nissan Livina Toyota Avanza
Capacity (cc) 1 598 1 500
Power (kW) 80 (6 000 r/min) 76 (6 000 r/min)
Torque (Nm) 153 (4 400 r/min) 136 (4 400 r/min)
Fuel consumption (claimed) N/a N/a
Gearbox 5-speed manual 4-speed automatic
Service plan (years / km) 3 / 60 000 4 / 60 000
Price R 177 400 R 191 500

One comment

  1. Gary Kohlruss

    Hello, just read your article comparing the Avanza and Livina. We are a family from Canada of 2 adult drivers and two teenagers requiring an inexpensive people carrier to rent for 28 days whilst visiting South Africa. We will have 4 pieces of medium-sized luggage. We will be visiting Lesotho, Swaziland , KZN, Kruger. Johannesburg and Durban. The best car hire prices we have found are for the Livina and Avanza, I assume these are for 2015 or 2016 models. Is there one model in particular that you could recommend for our purposes?
    Thank you,

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