|Also called||Toyota Estima (Japan)|
Toyota Tarago (Australia)
|Assembly||Kariya, Aichi, Japan|
|Successor||Toyota Sienna (North America only)|
|Body style||3-door minivan|
|Production||1990–1997 (North America)|
|Layout||FMR layout / four-wheel drive|
|Platform||XR10 (TCR10, TCR11, TCR20)|
|Engine||L 2TZ-FZE I4 supercharged|
4-speed automatic5-speed manual
|Wheelbase||112.8 in (2,865 mm)|
|Length||1991–92 & 1995–97: 187.0 in (4,750 mm)|
1993–94: 187.4 in (4,760 mm)
|Width||1991–94: 70.9 in (1,801 mm)|
1995–97: 70.8 in (1,798 mm)
|Height||1991–94 RWD: 68.7 in (1,745 mm)|
1995–97 RWD: 70.1 in (1,781 mm)
1991–94 AWD: 69.1 in (1,755 mm)
1995–2001 AWD: 70.5 in (1,791 mm)
The Toyota Previa, also known as the Toyota Estima (エスティマ) in Japan and the Toyota Tarago in Australia, is an MPV or multi-purpose vehicle (known as a minivan in North America) produced by Toyota Motor Corporation since 1990. The name "Previa" comes from the Italian for "preview," as Toyota saw the first Previa as a vehicle that would preview technologies used in future minivans.
First generation (XR10, XR20; 1990–2000)
The first generation, introduced in 1990, had only one sliding side door for the rear passengers. It featured a unique mid-enginedplatform, where the in-line 4-cylinder gasoline-powered engine was installed almost flat (at a 75-degree angle), beneath the front seats. Installing the engine in this configuration allowed moderately easy access to the spark plugs, which were located underneath a panel on the upper left-side of the vehicle, after removing the front passenger seat, the carpet, and an access panel. All engine-driven accessories, such as the alternator, power steering pump, air conditioning compressor, and radiator fan, are accessible from the front hood, driven off the front of the engine by an accessory driveshaft, and is known as the Supplemental Accessory Drive System, or "SADS." This allows for even front/rear weight distribution, which benefits ride quality and handling. However, it also prevents the installation of a larger engine, while the cost could not be relayed by sharing the platform with other vehicles.
The first generation Previa was 4,750 mm (187.0 in) long and 1,803 mm (71.0 in) wide. In Japan, two smaller versions, the Toyota Estima Lucida and Toyota Estima Emina, were produced, which were approximately 110 mm (4.3 in) narrower and 70 mm (2.8 in) shorter than the standard model. The reason for the difference between the smaller Emina and Lucida models is the vehicle tax system in Japan, which is based on the product of length and width of the car. The smaller variants fall in to a lower tax band. The Estima Emina and Estima Lucida were also available with a 2.2 litre diesel engine (3C-T and 3C-TE).
The first generation Previa was available in both rear- and all-wheel drive versions (called All-Trac) and powered by a 135 hp (101 kW)JIS (99 kW) 4-cylinder 2.4-litre fuel injection engine. Available with a 4-speed automatic or 5-speed manual gearbox, this Previa also seated seven or eight people, with three seating configurations offered (North America only received the seven passenger configurations, however). All configurations have a driver and front passenger seat forward, and a three-seat bench seat at the rear that splits and folds flat against the sides of the cabin. The 8-seat configuration contains a 2/1 split swiveling bench seat in the middle row, while the 7-seat configurations contain either two independently swiveling captain's chairs (referred to as "Quad Seating"), in the middle row or a two seat bench offset towards the driver's side. The third row is also better upholstered in the 7-seat version. It was available with either 4-wheel disc brakes or traditional front disc/rear drum brake setup, with Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) as an option.
In the United States, the Previa was sold from 1991 through 1997. It was imported from Japan to compete with Chrysler Corporation'ssuccessful Dodge Caravan minivan, and its twins Chrysler Town and Country and Plymouth Voyager. The Previa quickly became a common vehicle in the US, despite its relatively high price and poor fuel economy mainly due to the popularity of Japanese vehicles in the United States at a time when domestic vehicles were perceived to be of inferior quality. The mid-engine design proved to have a special weakness – the inability to increase engine size, which proved a significant problem as American drivers were used to having more power; the Dodge/Plymouth/Chrysler models were sold with available V6 engines. Starting in 1994, Toyota solved this problem by offering a twin-screw Roots-type supercharger with air-to-air intercooler, providing 6psi of boost (these models were called the "S/C"), bringing the engine power up to a competitive 160 hp (120 kW). Initially, the S/C engine was only available as an option on the LE in 1994 and 1995. For 1996, the normally-aspirated engine was discontinued, and the S/C became the standard engine on all trim levels. The United States version of the Previa was discontinued after the 1997 model year, replaced by the more traditionally-designed, front-wheel-drive, U.S.-designed and -built, Camry-based Sienna. A few Americans have obtained the newer Previa model (and first generation Japan-spec Estimas), but the U.S. DOT and EPA restrictions against "grey-market" import vehicles are very stringent.
In the Netherlands, the Previa the first generation was marketed there between 1991 and 1998. The only engine available was a 2.4-litre 4-cylinder engine. Trim levels were base (later renamed to i denoting an injection engine), GL, GLi and GXi. The 2.2-litre diesel version was a popular grey import.
Australia and New Zealand
In Australia, the Tarago (Previa in New Zealand) was offered in GL/GLI, GLS, and GLX forms with 7-8 passenger seating from 1991- the end of 1999.
In addition to the Australian market, there were various special edition models available, which varied in trim levels. These include the RV (either 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic with 4WD), commemorative Rugby World Cup editions and Getaway. Feature-wise, all of the special edition models are marketed between the base GLI and GLX models.
When the later-style update models were released in Australia, the top of the line GLS model was renamed "Ultima" and the Getaway became a mainstay trim level, being renamed Getaway II.
Toyota Motors Philippines offered the Previa in the mid-1990s before the first-generation model was discontinued. In recent years, pre-owned Lucidas and Eminas have been imported from Japan and converted to left-hand-drive before being sold in the gray market. These converted imports still retain their left-side sliding rear doors.
- The 5-speed manual Previas (North American models) were made from 1991 through 1993; none of these have superchargers.
- Starting in 1992, Previas (North American models) came with a driver's side air bag and third brake-light with dual airbags becoming standard on 1994–97 models.
- 1992–1997 North American Previa models also came with a swivel feature on the optional middle-row captain's chairs; the 1991 had fixed optional captain's chairs.
- Available on Previas outside the U.S., was an ice-maker/refrigerator that doubled as a beverage heater called the Hot/Cool Box.
- The supercharged engine is different from the normally-aspirated engine, due to a slight decrease in compression ratio. The supercharger is engaged on-demand by an electromagnetic clutch, based on input from the engine management system computer (the Engine Control Unit, or ECU).
- Previas have optional dual moonroofs: A power horizontal-sliding only glass moonroof above the middle row of passengers, and a pop-up glass moonroof above the front seats.
- Previas were also the first van to pass all US safety standards as pertaining to front impact, driver air bag, center-mounted brake light, ABS, daylights, etc.
- Gas mileage is below average (11-13L/100 km or 18.1-21.4mpg city, 10-11L/100 km or 21.4-23.5mpg highway); the small 4-cyl engine needs to work a bit harder due to the power:weight ratio of the vehicle, compared to today's 6-cyl engines. The addition of the supercharger slightly improves power at the expense of slightly higher fuel consumption.
- The Previa gives a practically omniscient view, excluding the pillars behind the front doors. This also turns the van into a greenhouse, accumulating extreme heat in a short period of time, although solar control glass later became an option, to help alleviate the problem.
- Previas are affectionately called "eggvans", "eggs", or "beans", because of their shape.
- In the United States, first generation Previa model variations, in order of lowest to highest price/option features, are: DX, DX All-Trac, DX S/C, LE, LE All-Trac, LE S/C, LE S/C All-Trac(where S/C = Supercharged and AllTrac = 4WD)
- The front passenger seat must be removed to check to perform a tune up because there is not enough room to remove plug wires.
- When the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tested the 1996 model in the offset frontal crash test, it revealed many safety issues: The cabin structure was unstable, the steering wheel moved upward all the way to the windshield, the lap belt tore which allowed the dummy to end up in a partially reclining position, and there were high forces on both of the lower legs, in which the IIHS evaluated it "Poor".