Curbside Newsstand: RIP Toyota Estima (Previa) Van and Mark X Sedan – So Long to a Couple of Toyota Stalwarts

The wife decided our 2007 Toyota Estima Van is too big for our now empty nest – both kids are out of the house and on their own.  We both still really like the Estima – it’s a perfect van, but the wife finds it a little large wheeling down some of Tokyo’s tinier streets.  So off we went to the local Toyota “Netz” dealer to look for something smaller.  In talking to the salesperson, I learned Toyota had ceased production of the Estima and the RWD Mark X four-door sedan – both of which I have owned.  RIP old friends…

Estima and Mark X production actually ended over a year ago with model year 2020, so I somehow missed that.  Evidently both were a victim of the never-ending popularity of the all-conquering SUV/CUV/Crossover/High Thingee.  Let’s look a little closer at these two now legacy models.

The Previa has been given a lot of love here at CC – well deserved in my opinion.  While North America only received Gen 1, it remained in production in Japan and Asia in Gen 2, Gen 3 and Gen 3+ versions as the Estima and Tarago.

The quirky Gen 1 model was certainly unique with its mid-mounted four cylinder engine canted 90 degrees laying on its side.  We had three of them, and the only reason we had that many was we had an overseas assignment where we couldn’t take the one we owned in the states, and when overseas, couldn’t take the one we had there back home to the US.  Other vans did some things better, but the Previa was tops in the criterion I rated highest – reliability.  They were all bulletproof – exactly what you want in a van that serves as a shuttle for the wife and kids.

Gen 2 Estima (2000-05)


Gen 3 (2006-16)


Gen 3+ (2017-19)


The Gen 2 and 3 versions were a little more traditional – based on the transverse FWD Camry platform, but kept the somewhat quirky styling.  I really liked the looks of our Gen 3 2007, not so much the facelift in 2017.

Toyota’s Alphard/Vellfire large van, introduced in 2002, has continued to remain fairly popular, but it made the Estima somewhat redundant as both were similar sized.  Maybe I’m biased but I think the Estima is much better looking than the Alphard.  But the buying public has spoken – so long Estima/Previa…you won’t be forgotten…

Mark X Gen 1 (2004-08)


Gen 2 (2009-19)


The Mark X was not that unique or remarkable on its own – it was a typical RWD 4-door and only survived through two generations, but it was significant in that it was the follow-on to the long-lived Mark II, one of Toyota’s most significant models – and critical to the growth and success the company has achieved today.

Mark II Gen 1 (1968-72)


Gen 2 (1972-76)


Gen 3 (1976-80)


Gen 4 (1980-84)


Gen 5 (1984-88)


Gen 6 (1988-92)


Gen 7 (1992-96)


Gen 8 (1996-2000)


Gen 9 (2000-2007)


The Mark II was built from 1968 to 2007, and was a core model in Toyota’s lineup during that entire period.  At one point in the middle of its tenure, it spawned off two variants; the sportier Chaser, and the more luxurious Cresta – all built on the same platform (as well as the US market Cressida).  These three constituted a large portion of Toyota’s overall sales in Japan during the 1970’s – 80’s.  I had a 1982 and a 1988 Cresta, and a 2002 Mark II – all great cars.  Here in Japan, with the end of the Mark X, the only remaining RWD 4-door hardtops/sedans from Toyota are the Crown, the Lexus LS and IS, and the limited production Century.

It appears what we’ve seen occur in North America regarding the ascendancy of the SUV/CUV/Crossover is being reflected here in Japan too.  As someone who admires and likes both vans and sedans, it makes me a little wistful…