26 August 2021

Used Car Review: Toyota Sai (2010)

In a market where new sedans are on the decline, it seems that popularity in the used car market for them remains strong, particularly if they have a hybrid drivetrain.

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Toyota Sai (2010)
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Toyota Sai (2010)
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Toyota Sai (2010)
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Toyota Sai (2010)
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Toyota Sai (2010)
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Toyota Sai (2010)

One such car is a used Japanese domestic model called the Toyota Sai hybrid. This is a good option for those who want something a bit different, and with a bit more power, than the popular Toyota Prius.

The Toyota Sai is a medium-size sedan that was not available as New Zealand new, but it does share its platform and hybrid system with the Lexus HS, and is also a close relative of the Toyota Avensis. It was produced between 2009 and 2017, until it was discontinued and replaced by the Lexus ES 300h in 2018.

Our used car for review is from 2010 and it had just under 90,000km on the clock. Overall, the condition was pretty good considering it’s over a decade old.


Overall, the Sai is pretty wear resistant, with the usual high-use touchpoints like the central controls and steering wheel that show small signs of wear from over the last 11 years.

The interior is where this car gets quite interesting. The seat fabric is plain and seems to be easy to clean and maintain – perfect for families or those who would be using the car for the transport of paying passengers.

The dashboard, seats and carpet are all the same plum colour, which makes the trim and door card colour scheme a welcomed contrast.

The centre console and controls must have been quite futuristic back in 2010, with a ‘floating’ style central console featuring a mouse style controller with a palm rest. The CD, radio, and MiniDisc controls are hidden away under a flap. The navigation/infotainment screen also folds away when not in use, which results in quite a simplistic dashboard.

Another interesting feature is the Japanese safety call button set into the roof console panel that has a picture of an ambulance on. This would have been connected to a network in Japan to notify emergency services if required, and is a feature we often see only in European vehicles.

The A/C temperature controls are located on the steering wheel along with phone and infotainment system controls. The dinky automatic transmission selector called ‘Electro Shiftmatic’ is easy to use and located within easy reach.  


As you might expect with a Toyota, the hybrid drivetrain is exceptional, and has a smooth transition between drive modes.

The car is a good size for manoeuvrability yet large enough to accommodate extended travel, albeit with average-sized storage space in the boot.

Even with a larger engine than the norm for an early hybrid, the Toyota Sai is no powerhouse, however, this is also not the intent of a hybrid - its purpose is to lower your fuel bill and reduce fuel emissions.

Safety features

Being solely available as a Japanese import, the vehicle specs and safety information can be a bit scarce, however, when the vehicle first came onto the market in Japan the Sai came in two main models - the G and S – both of which had two grades to choose from.

The Sai also has some pretty good safety features for its time, with some models receiving a millimetre wave radar that was part of a basic pre-crash safety system, which could warn if a vehicle was approaching the rear of the car at a speed where a collision was imminent. There is also emergency braking signal or sudden braking signal that triggered warning lights to warn following vehicles if the car was to brake suddenly to avoid a collision. There is also a potential for the vehicle to be equipped with up to 9 airbags including driver knee and side curtain airbags. While we can’t guarantee that all models have these safety features, it can be something to look for if you are in the market.


The Toyota Sai is a great option for those who are looking to reduce their fuel emissions, and this particular model is becoming increasingly more popular among taxi drivers.

A larger sedan option would be the Toyota Camry Hybrid, which we hope to review soon.

At a glance

Model and year

Toyota Sai (2010)



Date Tested



$11,490 (+ORC)


1.4-litre petrol hybrid


Electro Shiftmatic CVT

Fuel economy, CO2

6.7L/100km, 117g/km

Towing capacity



2WD (Front)

Seating capacity


Luggage capacity/payload


Safety features include:

  • Anti-lock Braking System (ABS)
  • Nine airbags
  • Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
  • Emergency Brake Signal
  • Pre-Crash Warning

For more information on safety ratings visit rightcar.govt.nz

Choosing your next used car?

An AA Preferred Dealer is a Motor Vehicle Trader that has been certified to meet our standards of quality. We recommend that anyone looking to buy a used car visits an AA Preferred Dealer. Our series of checks on used cars gives drivers peace of mind that the used car they’re interested in buying isn’t hiding any secrets.

Click here to find out more about our AA Preferred Dealer network.

If you don’t have an AA Preferred Dealer near you, find a used vehicle that has had an AA Appraisal. Cars that have had an AA Appraisal have received a 43-point mechanical check by the AA, which focuses on the mechanical and safety aspects of the car and gives an overall evaluation of the vehicle.

Click here to learn more about AA Appraisals.

Get total peace of mind with an AA Pre Purchase Inspection

When you buy a used car, you may have a number of questions about its condition and safety. An independent AA Pre Purchase Vehicle Inspection will give you complete peace of mind with a comprehensive 100+ point vehicle check by an experienced mechanic.

Click here for more information on AA Pre Purchase Inspections.

Thank you to AA Preferred Dealer Portage Cars for supplying us with the 2010 Toyota Sai for review. For similar listings, click here.

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