Used 3rd-gen Toyota Vios – 1NZ-FE vs 2NR-FE 1.5L, maintenance costs and which is best?

The third-generation Toyota Vios (NCP 150) was first introduced to the Malaysian market in 2013. Highlighting a fresh new face, larger proportions and improved creature comforts, the NCP 150 Vios was a snazzy alternative to the likes of the GM6 Honda City and Nissan Almera.

In 2016, the NCP 150 Vios received a major update. Though visual updates were subtle and measured, the biggest changes were under its skin, where the NCP 150 Vios received the new 2NR-FE engine, paired with a new CVT-type automatic transmission driving the front wheels.

Thus, the NCP 150 Vios is unique in that it offered two different powertrains across its model lifespan. The latter 2NR-FE offered substantial improvements in fuel economy but lost out on some power and punchy response of the previous 1NZ-FE.

Both engines are also similar in capacity, at 1.5 litres, so how do they differ in terms of maintenance and driving experience? Let’s take a closer look.

Overview

1NZ-FE engine

The 1NZ-FE has featured in the Toyota Vios since the first generation (NCP 42) albeit with small tweaks along the way to improve efficiency.

In the NCP 150, the 1.5-litre four-cylinder with VVT-i (intake side) outputs 109 PS and 141 Nm at 4,200 rpm to the front wheels. Power is transmitted via a four-speed auto with Super ECT or a five-speed manual in the sole J variant.

In the NCP 150, Toyota achieved a 5 percent overall improvement in fuel consumption over the preceding (NCP 93) Vios due to lighter components and redesigned accessories such as the air filter housing.

2NR-FE engine

At the end of 2016, the NCP 150 Vios facelift became the second Toyota model to receive the 2NR-FE after the 2015 Toyota Avanza. Alongside, the Vios’ hatchback sibling, the Toyota Yaris is also powered by 2NR-FE.

The 2NR-FE 1.5-litre features dual VVT-i, which means it features variable valve timing on both the intake and exhaust camshafts as well as Iridium spark plugs for increased efficiency.

Inside the engine, the 2NR-FE cylinders feature a 72 mm bore x 91.8 mm stroke versus the 1NZ-FE’s 75 mm bore x 84.7 mm stroke.

Black interior for all variants from 2015 onwards.

Whilst Toyota claimed a fuel economy improvement of 18 percent, the 2NR-FE produces a tad less power at 107 PS (down 2 PS) and 140 Nm (down 1 Nm) at 4,200 rpm than the 1NZ-FE.

The 5-speed manual was retained on the J variant, but a new CVT automatic with 7-speed a sequential manual mode replaced the ageing 4-speed automatic.

Also read: The 1.5L engine in Perodua Myvi and Toyota Yaris, are they the same?

What are the market prices of the NCP 150 Vios?

Facelift NCP 150 Vios units are identifiable by the daytime running lights on the front bumper

Used 2014 – 2016 units of the NCP 150 start at just below RM 50k and rise to around RM 60k, whilst 2017 – 2019 units are typically priced between RM 60k and RM 70k.

When looking for a used NCP 150 Vios, ensure the vehicle is well-presented and maintained, alternatively check out these immaculate examples of the Toyota Vios on Carsome which are offered with a warranty and limited-time discount packages of up to RM 10,100

Also read: Save up to RM 10,100 when you test drive and post a photo of a Carsome Certified car

Maintenance and common problems?

Given they’re extremely well-designed and given Toyota’s typical production quality standards – both the 1NZ-FE and 2NR-FE are about as reliable as four-cylinder engines come. 

Beyond real-world reliability, both engines also have proven to hold up to the rigours of motorsport courtesy of the local Toyota Gazoo Racing Vios Challenge Series

Toyota Vios (NCP 150) 1NZ-FE vs 2NR-FE maintenance cost
Maintenance / Interval 1NZ-FE  2NR-FE
Oil change / 10k km Semi-syn (RM 175), Fully-syn (RM 295)
Air filter / 20k km RM 95
Cabin filter / 30k km RM 25
Brake service / 40k km RM 60
Transmission service 40k km (RM 150) 80k km (RM 300)
Engine coolant / 160k km, subsequent 80k km  RM 120
Spark plugs  40k km (RM 80) 100k km (RM 350)

The main difference in terms of maintenance of the 1NZ-FE and 2NR-FE lies in the upgrade from conventional spark plugs to (more expensive) Iridium items and the longer intervals of the CVT-transmission service. 

With that said, prospective buyers should be aware of a few common issues when considering the 1NZ-FE or 2NR-FE.

The 1NZ-FE is known to develop minor leaks at the crankshaft oil seal and timing belt cover. In other cases, higher-mileage cars may start to idle at a lower rpm – this can be caused by a dirty throttle body, a faulty Idle Control Valve (ICV) or a Mass Air Flow sensor (MAF) in more serious cases.

The 1NZ-FE is known to develop some oil leaks on the crankshaft oil seal (left image) and timing belt cover (right image). The 2NR-FE is less so. 

In the case of the 2NR-FE, there a sporadic reports of a clattering noise (typically after 100k km) from the timing belt area, known to be caused by a worn belt tensioner which may require replacement. 

Driving experience 

While it may not read much on paper, the 1NZ-FE’s low rpm torque response and larger bore size (though minimal) help it develop more power earlier and sustain it well throughout the rpm range. 

Also read: Used 3rd-gen Toyota Vios from RM40k – When you don’t want a new Proton/Perodua

When coupled with the quick-shifting 4-speed auto, NCP 150 Vios units powered by the 1NZ-FE make for quite an enjoyable car to drive, albeit with slightly higher fuel consumption. The 1NZ-FE additionally is quite characterful too, thanks to spritely air induction noises that come from the engine under hard acceleration. 

The 2NR-FE on another hand is tuned for the best efficiency and ease of driving thus its power is concentrated lower in the rpm range. That said, the CVT does extremely well to fill in the gaps and provide smooth acceleration from a standstill up to highway speeds. 

The 2NR-FE excels in fuel economy, with many owners regularly achieving upwards of 500 km from a full tank of fuel in the facelifted NCP 150 Vios. However, the 1NZ-FE offers a bit more zest at higher rpm than the 2NR-FE. 

Conclusion 

The 2NR-FE and CVT automatic package is better suited for the majority of NCP 150 Vios buyers – it’s more fuel efficient, smoother and more refined – making it a superb choice for young family types and even working individuals who travel a lot daily. 

As for the keener drivers – they will appreciate the 1NZ-FE’s torque response, strong induction noise and stout powerband – which undoubtedly will put a smile on their faces, even if it means a few more trips to the pump. 

And perhaps most exciting, 1NZ-FE Vios units were also offered with a row-your-own 5-speed manual, which is a pleasant anomaly for its segment and price range. 

Source: Used 3rd-gen Toyota Vios – 1NZ-FE vs 2NR-FE 1.5L, maintenance costs and which is best?

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