The Toyota Previa, also known as the Toyota Estima (Japanese: エスティマ Esutima) in Japan, and Toyota Tarago in Australia, is an MPV or multi-purpose vehicle (known as a minivan in North America) produced by Toyota since 1990.

The name "Previa" is derived from the Spanish and Italian for "preview," as Toyota saw the first Previa as a vehicle that would preview technologies used in future minivans. Along with the Toyota Sienna, the Previa is the second largest minivan in Toyota's line-up after the bigger and more luxurious Alphard/Vellfire (which is not offered in most Western markets).

First generation (XR10, XR20; 1990–1999)

First generation (XR10, XR20)
1996-2000 Toyota Tarago (TCR10R) GLi van 02.jpg
Also called Toyota Estima
Toyota Tarago
Production January 1990[1] – December 1999
Assembly Japan: Kariya, Aichi (Fujimatsu plant)[1]
Designer Tokuo Fukuichi; David Doyle (1987)[2]
Layout Front mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout
Front mid-engine, four-wheel-drive layout
Engine 2.4 L 2TZ-FE I4 (gasoline)
2.4 L 2TZ-FZE I4 (supercharged gasoline)
2.2 L 3C-T I4 (turbocharged diesel)
2.2 L 3C-TE I4 (turbocharged diesel)
Transmission 5-speed manual G57 (AWD), G59 (2WD)
4-speed automatic A460DF (AWD), A460DE (2WD)
Wheelbase 112.8 in (2,865 mm)
Length 1991–92, 1995–97: 4,750 mm (187.0 in)
1993–94: 4,760 mm (187.4 in)
Width 1991–94: 1,801 mm (70.9 in)
1995–97: 1,798 mm (70.8 in)
Height 1991–94 RWD: 1,745 mm (68.7 in)
1995–97 RWD: 1,781 mm (70.1 in)
1991–94 AWD: 1,755 mm (69.1 in)
1995–2001 AWD: 1,791 mm (70.5 in)
Curb weight 1,703 kg (3,755 lb)
1990–1994 Toyota Estima
1999 Toyota Estima Supercharger (wide-body; Japan)
1996–1999 Toyota Estima Emina (Japan)
1999 Toyota Estima Lucida (Japan)

The first generation, designed by Toyota designer Tokuo Fukuichi and Calty designer David Doyle in 1987 (patent filed 24 December 1987), was introduced on 27 January 1990, had only one sliding side door for the rear passengers. It featured a unique mid-engined platform, where the inline four 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, which continued to be sold in Japan but as the "wide-body" Estima.

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, and the smaller variants fall into a lower tax band. The Estima Emina and Estima Lucida were also available with a 2.2-liter diesel engine (3C-T and 3C-TE).[3] In Japan, the Estima and Estima Emina were exclusive to the dealerships called Toyota Store. The Estima Lucida sold at Toyota Corolla Store dealerships.

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) four-cylinder 2.4-liter fuel injection engine. Available with a four-speed automatic or five-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 eight-seat configuration contains a 2/1 split swiveling bench seat in the middle row, while the seven-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 seven-seat version. It was available with either four-wheel disc brakes or traditional front disc/rear drum brake setup, with anti-lock brakes (ABS) as an option.

United States

1997 model year Previa S/C AWD (last model year in the US)

In the United States, the Previa was sold from March 1990 (for the 1991 model year) to 1997. It was imported from Japan to compete with Chrysler Corporation's successful Dodge Caravan minivan, and its twins Chrysler Town and Country and Plymouth Voyager; Chrysler CEO Lee Iacocca accused Toyota of dumping the Previa in the United States in order to take market share in the minivan segment from Chrysler. However, his claims were never substantiated.

While the Previa proved more popular than the Toyota Van it replaced, it did not acquire significant market share from Chrysler—due to its higher price, controversial styling (for its time), lower fuel economy and engine performance—and also due to Chrysler launching redesigned minivans around the same time.

The mid-engine design proved to have a significant limitation—the inability to incorporate larger engine sizes, which proved a problem as American drivers were used to having more power; the Dodge/Plymouth/Chrysler models were sold with available V6 engines with slightly more power. At same time, this layout granted the Previa greater interior space than the Chrysler competitors.

Starting with the 1994 model year, Toyota attempted to rectify engine performance by fitting a Roots-type supercharger with air-to-air intercooler, providing six psi of boost (these models were called the "S/C"), bringing the engine power up to a competitive 158 hp (118 kW) and increasing fuel mileage from 17 to 23 mpg‑US (14 to 10 L/100 km). Initially, the S/C engine was only available as an option on the LE for the 1994 model year and all models for 1995.

The United States version of the Previa was discontinued after the 1997 model year, replaced by the more traditionally designed, front-wheel-drive, US-designed and built, Camry-based Sienna.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has given the Toyota Previa a "Poor" rating.[4]


The first generation Previa was marketed in the Netherlands between 1991 and 1994. In 1994 the supercharged or SC model was made standard on all Previas. The only engine available was a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine until 1995. Trim levels were base (later renamed to i denoting an injection engine), GL, GLi and GXi. The 2.2-liter diesel version was a popular grey import.


In Australia, the Tarago was offered in GL/GLI, GLS, and GLX forms with 7–8 passenger seating from 1991 models. 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.

Additional notes

  • The five-speed manual Previas (North American models) were made from 1990 through to 1993 (model year 1991 to 1993); none of these have a supercharger.[5]
  • Starting in 1991 for model year 1992, Previas (North American models) came with a driver's side air bag and third brake-light with dual airbags becoming standard in September 1993 for year model 1994, being first minivan to offer a passenger airbag as standard.
  • From 1991 to 1997 (from 1992 to 1997 model years), North American Previas also came with a swivel feature on the optional middle-row captain's chairs; 1990 to 1991 production (1991 model year) 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, owing to a slight decrease in compression ratio and stronger engine internals. 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, passenger 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 owing to the power to weight ratio of the vehicle, compared with today's 6-cyl engines. The addition of the supercharger slightly improves power and gives better fuel consumption.
  • The Previa gives a practically panoramic 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 Australia, they have been referred to as "Wombats", because they somewhat resemble the marsupial of the same name. In New Zealand they are very popular with freedom campers and are referred to as 'Bucky' buses.
  • 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 and a section of floor pan must be removed to perform a tune up because there is not enough room to remove spark plug leads or spark plugs.
  • When the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tested the 1996 model in the offset frontal crash test, it revealed many safety problems: 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".[4]
  • In some countries (mainly Australia, Japan and the United Kingdom) unsold Estimas and Lucidas were re-badged as 1995/1996 Previas.

Second generation (XR30, XR40; 2000–2005)

Second generation (XR30, XR40)
2002 Toyota Tarago (ACR30R) GLi van (2015-06-18) 01.jpg
Also called Toyota Estima
Toyota Tarago
Production January 2000 – December 2005
Assembly Japan: Kariya, Aichi (Fujimatsu plant);[1] Toyota, Aichi (Motomachi plant)[6]
Designer Hiroshi Okamoto (1997)[7]
Layout FF layout
Engine 2.4 L 2AZ-FE I4 (gasoline)
3.0 L 1MZ-FE V6 (gasoline)
2.0 L 1CD-FTV I4 (turbocharged diesel)
Transmission 5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
CVT automatic (hybrid)
Wheelbase 2,900 mm (114.2 in)
Length 4,750 mm (187.0 in)
Width 1,790 mm (70.5 in)
Height 1,770 mm (69.7 in)
Curb weight 1,640–1,850 kg (3,616–4,079 lb)

The first generation Previa was sold outside the United States until 8 January 2000, when a new dynamically designed front wheel drive second generation replaced it. The second generation was not available in North America. The North American market received the Toyota Sienna. The second generation Previa had a slightly longer wheelbase (2900 mm) and was both narrower (1790 mm) and lower (1770 mm) than the first one; it switched to FF layout and was based on the Camry platform.

It was produced with sliding rear passenger doors on both sides and offered space for up to six, seven or eight passengers and, as with the first generation, was sold as the Estima in Japan and as the Tarago in Australia. The range available in Australia was the GLi, GLX and Ultima.

Models sold on the European markets were available with both gasoline and diesel-powered four-cylinder engines. The diesel engine was a 2.0-liter 1CD-FTV with 116 hp (87 kW) and the gasoline-powered one a 2.4-liter 2AZ-FE with 156 hp (116 kW). Both models featured a five-speed manual transmission as the part of standard equipment, while a four-speed automatic was available as an option on gasoline-powered model.

Australian models were only available with the 2.4-liter petrol engine and a four-speed automatic.

In Japan, a 3.0-liter V6 engine and a hybrid version of the Estima were available.

Estima Hybrid

The Estima Hybrid employed the Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive and used two electric motors. A 2.4-liter gasoline engine and a 13 kW (17 hp) electric motor power the front wheels, while the rear wheels are propelled by a 18 kW (24 hp) electric motor.[8] The vehicle had been on sale in Japan since June 2001. Production of the hybrid started in May 2001 at the Motomachi plant and June 2002 at the Fujimatsu plant.[6][1] It is claimed by Toyota to be the world's first hybrid minivan.[9]

Pre-facelift Previa (Europe) 
2001–2003 Toyota Estima Hybrid Rear 
2001–2003 Toyota Estima Hybrid Front 

Third generation (XR50; 2006–present)

Third generation (XR50)
2008 Toyota Estima Aeras.jpg
Also called Toyota Estima
Toyota Tarago
Production January 2006 – present (Fujimatsu)
March 2006 – present (Motomachi)[6]
Assembly Japan: Kariya, Aichi (Fujimatsu plant);[1] Toyota, Aichi (Motomachi plant)[6][10]
Designer Kuniaki Toyooka (2003)
Layout FF layout, F4 layout
Engine 2.4 L 2AZ-FE I4 (gasoline)
3.5 L 2GR-FE V6 (gasoline)
Transmission 4-speed automatic (2.4L 2006-2010)
7-speed Super CVT-i (2.4L)
6-speed automatic (3.5L)
Wheelbase 2,950 mm (116.1 in)
Length 4,795 mm (188.8 in)
Width 1,800 mm (70.9 in)
Height 1,750 mm (68.9 in)
Curb weight 1,725–1,915 kg (3,803–4,222 lb)

The third generation was introduced in 2006 in the Japanese and Australian markets as Estima and Tarago, respectively, and as Previa elsewhere. Features include an available second-generation Hybrid Synergy Drive drivetrain (only in Japanese markets), automatic parallel and back-in parking (only on Toyota Estima), track-mounted second row reclining seats with footrests, and power-folding split third row seats (for seven-seater models). It was facelifted in 2009.[11] G-BOOK was added to the list of optional features.

Toyota Estima interior
Estima Hybrid

As with the previous generation, the Australian version of the automobile continued to use a 2.4-liter inline-four engine. In February 2007, a 3.5-liter V6 engine (202 kW (271 hp), 340 N⋅m (250 ft⋅lbf) torque) became available in order for the automobile to remain competitive against its main rivals in Australia, the international Honda Odyssey, the Kia Carnival/Sedona, and the Hyundai iMax. The 2.4-liter engine was widely criticized for lacking torque.

It is known as the Toyota Tarago in Australia, released in March 2006. The model had a facelift in 2009 and the option of a seven-seater variant released in 2008. Another update was released in 2012 with smart start as standard on all models, smart entry on GLX V6 and Ultima models, new audio systems on all models, automatic headlights and a new Rustic Brown colour option.

In some markets such as Hong Kong and Taiwan, Toyota announced the 3.5-liter V6 model in January 2007.

The Previa continues to be excluded from North America as the locally produced Sienna occupies that market.

Notable about this generation was its absence in Europe. In many parts of the continent, the price setter in this segment has, since the late 1990s, been a joint venture vehicle produced in Palmela, Portugal by Ford Europe and Volkswagen, the Ford Galaxy/Volkswagen Sharan/SEAT Alhambra. By 2004, the second generation Galaxy/Sharan was coming to the end of its model life and run-out versions were heavily discounted. Competitors found themselves responding to the discounts or losing market share.

In European markets, Toyota branded vehicles often achieve a price premium, but scope for this is not unlimited. Ford Europe's third generation Galaxy, launched in 2006, was also aggressively priced, which offers one clue as to why Toyota ended Previa sales in Europe, where healthier margins are available on smaller slightly nimbler minivans and in the still hugely lucrative luxury four wheel drive segment.

Even though no current MPV of this size is sold by Toyota Europe, much of its market territory it once occupied has been partially filled by the new Toyota Verso compact MPV since March 2009.

This model has an unusually long production run for a Toyota, and it's not currently known whether the model will be replaced in the future.

Estima Hybrid

The third generation Estima Hybrid, currently only sold in Japan and Hong Kong, is powered by Toyota's 2.4-liter E-Four hybrid system with all-wheel drive. It is said to be similar to that of the Lexus RX 400h but a generation behind.[12]

Facelift (2016 - present)

The facelifted model was launched in mid-2016, its dimensions remain mostly unchanged while it receives various new additional equipment to keep up with its competitors. In the interior features a redesigned multifunction steering wheel and a piano black center console that neatly houses a large touchscreen infotainment display. A new safety system "Toyota Safety Sense C" was offered for the first time in the facelifted Estima but only for Japanese models. The former includes pre-collision system with pedestrian detection function, lane keep assist, high beam assist, and radar cruise control.

Along with the new safety features comes a slightly redesigned headlights with LED day time running lights, taillights, bumpers, as well as interior, it also becomes the first Toyota to have 360 degree 99% UV cut glass preventing 99% of UV rays from entering into the vehicle creating a cooler environment overall, this 99% UV cut glass also gets a recommendation from Skin Cancer Foundation and has a SPF 50+/PA++++ rating. However, with the gain of its new looks and safety equipment the Estima drops its 3.5 L V6 and now only offers the 2.4 L inline 4 producing 170 PS (130 kW), and 224 N⋅m (165 ft⋅lbf) and its hybrid variant.


  1. ^ a b c d e "Affiliates (Toyota wholly-owned subsidiaries)-Toyota Auto Body Co., Ltd". Toyota Motor Corporation. 2012. Retrieved 2015-12-03. 
  2. ^ Toyota Jidosha Kabushiki Kaisha. "US Patent D305624". Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  3. ^ "1990–2000 Toyota Estima". Right Drive. Canada. Archived from the original on 2012-06-19. Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  4. ^ a b "IIHS-HLDI: Toyota Previa". Iihs.org. 2005-09-02. Retrieved 2010-10-30. 
  5. ^ Matras, John (April 1994). "Supercharging to the rescue". Popular Science. 
  6. ^ a b c d "Motomachi Plant". Toyota Motor Corporation. 2012. Retrieved 2014-07-03. 
  7. ^ "岡本浩志" [Okamoto Hiroshi] (in Japanese). Chiba University. 2006. Retrieved 2016-06-21. 
  8. ^ Thorp, Chris (2003-08-19). "Toyota Estima Hybrid". Auto Express. Retrieved 2015-11-02. 
  9. ^ Nunez, Alex (2006-06-13). "Toyota Estima Hybrid gets a full redesign". Autoblog Green. Retrieved 2009-11-20. 
  10. ^ "Japanese Production Sites" (Press release). Japan: Toyota. 2015-03-06. Archived from the original on 2015-03-18. 
  11. ^ Tan, Paul. "Toyota Estima receives a facelift in Japan". Paultan.org. Retrieved 2010-10-30. 
  12. ^ Cobb, Jeff (2013-09-10). "Toyota's Fuel-Sipping Estima And Alphard Hybrid Minivans – Off Limits For US". Hybridcars.com. Retrieved 2015-11-02. 

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