A couple of years ago I had a little Outtake series of the Taxis of Eugene. And a Previa was of course one of them. At one time, Oregon Taxi had large fleet of these, and nothing else. They bought them used, and kept running them. The numbers a re dwindling now, which given that they’re between 15 and 25 years old, should not be a surprise.
I actually rode in one to the airport about a year or so ago, and asked the driver how many miles they had. “500 – 600 thousand, mostly” was his response. Well, I guess the Previa won’t make our Worst Japanese Car list.
Toyota vehicles keep on running in far worse conditions than you’d find in Eugene, and if you look at pictures of any Third World cities you’ll always see lots of Toyotas. Eugene looks like kind of a retirement home for old cars by comparison.
Florida is like that, but mostly beige Buicks or Grand Marquis- they can be had for a song, if thats your thing.
Indeed. There are a ton of time warp vehicles around Sarasota. At the Cadillac-Oldsmobile dealership where I used to work, it wasn’t uncommon to see an elderly person drive in with a 15-20 year old car and have less than 30k on the clock. Toyotas (driven by a different demographic) tend to get beat into the ground more here.
I’m down the road in Cape Coral, I think SW FLA has the worst drivers in the US. Slowpoke elders, hyper aggresive or innattentive (oh my- look at all the palm trees) snow birds and rampant DUI’ing makes things interesting. I am a hyper defensive driver and sold the CB750 after I moved here in 08- motorcyclists tend to get killed. Oh, and don’t use your horn unless you are about to be hit, or someone will show you his gun.
SW FL has the worst drivers partly because of age (hello snowbirds) and because of their goofy traffic light system. It takes FOREVER to cross US-41 just about anywhere. That means that more folks will push the light and drive through when it’s red.
Amen. I feel as if I’ve spent a whole year of my life at red lights. Often I’ll turn right if I can, make a U-turn, then turn right and keep going. And the yellows are timed twice as long as California.
A friend of mine that’s a former smoker calls them cigarette lights, you can have an entire smoke at a red light. If and when a light finally turns green, a true Floridian will look both ways twice before going, despite the honking from the person behind you- they’ll only show you their handguns if you honk at them.
My aunt in Tallahassee just traded in her 1996 Grand Marquis a few months ago; it had been purchased brand new and had only 32,000 miles since then. The GM had been purchased to be the road trip car and, after my uncle’s health deteriorated, it just sat in the garage. My aunt was able to trade in both the GM and her Grand Am, coming up with a new Malibu in the deal. She is 84 years old and still active and alert.
I see those tragic situations for sale all the time.
32K on a ’96? Wow. And I thought my 107K ’97 Vic was relatively low mileage!
It was sad; my uncle’s job required him to travel quite a bit and they also traveled frequently on vacation. I think the only U.S. state they were never in was North Dakota. Unfortunately my uncle’s health got to the point where it was uncomfortable for him to travel so they just stayed home. They had other vehicles so the Grand Marquis was relegated to the garage; several years ago they actually had to replace the tires as they had dry rotted to the point they were unsafe. I told my aunt (and my cousin) that they should try to sell the GM as a low mileage version might be worth a premium, but they weren’t interested.
So true. I had a friend that would get his cars by going to retirement villages and mobile home parks and look at their bullitin boards.
Thank you Paul, I’ll make a B & B trip to Eugene someday soon, and this is the tip of an iceberg of the wonder of that town. My Lady will think I’m off my rocker again, but we will commission one for a brief tour, requesting a theme of the more unusual places.
I love the Previa, it’s amazing Toyota did something so bold, were these Calty designs? There is one fire mist blue mint one running around my town, it still looks so modern in traffic, in a clean good way.
Want to see old cars? Head to Victoria, BC, Canada’s retirement capital. Loads of 30 year old stuff, and even older.
My father’s neighbour had one of those.He and his wife were from Memphis,Tennessee.Three times they were disallowed Australian citizenship but eventually they were allowed in to spread their vulgar right wing fascist American anti pornography campaign under the guise of Christianity and Corruption.
um, you do realize that this topic is about old Toyota minivan’s right, LOL
“vulgar…anti-pornography…blah blah blah”
You are a funny man. Thank you for the laugh.
According to Wikipedia, the Previa, like previous Toyota van models, was underpowered compared to the V6 Chryslers, & its layout lacked room for a larger engine. They later offered a supercharged version, which improved fuel economy, but the Sienna was their final solution. In urban taxi service, however, this power deficit doesn’t matter so much.
Was Iacocca really so pathetic as to accuse Toyota of dumping this uncompetitive model? What a crybaby. American car executives must’ve learned to handle disappointment by reflexively crying foul, like fans for the losing football team.
The NA Previa WAS underpowered…it arrived just as minivans got power boosts (Chrysler/Mitsu 3.0 and 3.3, Aerostar getting the 4.0 Cologne V6, GM Dustbuster vans getting the 3800), and making matters worse, the Previa’s engine was a revver, with a 4000RPM torque peak. The pedal spent plenty of time pinned to the floor on a Previa.
Eh, I will be *that* guy.
500-600,000 miles on a car with a continuous service history and used in the livery trade doesn’t mean it was a great car. Durable? Yes. If that’s your only criteria, then it was a great car.
While the exterior design appeals to some, the actual design of the car was terrible. In order to use the full cargo hold, you had to remove the rear seats. Which wasn’t unusual back at that time, but then they were stowed on the sides of the interior panels. Nothing like huge, heavy projectiles in the case of a rear end collision when the car was configured this way.
What was the point of the truck chassis idea anyway? By the time these things were released, the FWD mini van was a proven idea. I pity the folks who have to service these things. IIRC, our mechanics were not fond of them. The fuel mileage was not all that impressive, nor was the acceleration, hence the supercharged versions. Which, when new, were $30K!
I think I would have lived with a Chrysler minivan much more happily.
Oh wait, I did…
I may be wrong, but the truck based van from Toyota is still made- the Hi/Master Ace series-we don’t get them. There are many advantages of this design: such as much more floor area, lower center of gravity, a robust, rugged and proven frame built for commercial use. Ive only known two owners, who both said they are bulletproof- I know that’s statically insignificant. And the non supercharged one I rode in did 85 all day, except on steep grades. And these were significantly larger than fwd family vans, hence reduced mpg’s. I would love to do a Westy type conversion to one.
However you do have a good point about fwd vans, especially the cost point and Chrysler really did a good job of delivering the consumer what they want, i.e. sto and go seats, good hp and economy at a great bargain. These only appeal to nerds like me.
The Previa and its predecessor in the US are not “truck based” they do not have a separate frame, they are standard unibody fare. Their engines are unique to them as are the suspension systems.
Well,I have to take issue with a couple of comments here. As has been mentioned, this was not a truck based design – it was a unibody with a unique drive train arrangement. This arrangement was very similar to that used by the Crown Corp for its busses and fire apparatus – with the engine laid flat on its side at 90 degrees in the front middle of the chassis
Given the engine was tucked up underneath the floorpan, Toyota ensured the engine was even more robust than usual – the timing chain was good for the life of the car, and I’ve never heard of a Previa expiring due to a loose or broken chain.
I’ve had three and each had over 200K – only major repair was a replaced starter on one at about 150K. The only item that is considered a problem is the Supplementary Accessory Drive or output shaft that runs the accessories in the front of the engine – the bushings do wear out. However, compared to a certain other US manufactured van, I’ve never heard of one puking it’s transmission at 60K…….
They are still being built as a JDM model under the Estima brand – though they switched to regular transverse front engine arrangement several years ago.
Why do you reckon some engines got timing belts while others got timing chains? I know that some engines got timing belts, which were made from rubber, other hard, but flexible materiel.
Sigh* in Detroit on 8 Mi Rd and Woodward.
For something hanging around 8 Mi, bullet hole is optional and rust is mandotary, sigh*
I’m a little bit surprised to see this previa rather than more common B-Body with more holes sometimes with duct tape over plus the paint ( sometimes duct tape fell off eventually )
Wow. That certainly would not be allowed on the road in any state with safety inspections!
A very unique design that found more buyers than I would have imagined. My BIL purchases one new and ran it past 300k miles. Only niggling issue was a driveshaft—it was a very expensive replacement part. When I drove it at about 280k, the engine and trans. functioned perfectly–very Toyotasih, but suspension bushings were certainly squishy and squeaked. Steering had that very “broken in” feeling.
The Previa died a violent death when my niece had some sort of medical issue that caused her to faint (not drugs!) and the van rolled over at about 30 mph. She had cuts from flying glass, but little else. At the end of the day, the Previa was a great friend who sacrificially protected its mistress from death. RIP.
Sir, you have captured the concept of Elderly Toyota Syndrome perfectly: ETS.
I had a 1988 320k three speed auto Corolla, named Squeaky Mouse- I name my cars, and she was mouse colored. I sold her to an exporter in Miami. She’s still chugging around somewhere in the third world, I would bet.
Co worker bought one used about five years ago. Before that he had unbelievably bad luck with used cars. This is the longest I’ve seen him with a vehicle. It had its first mechanical failure last week….right rear tail light burned out and needed replacement. The van has 250,000 miles.
The crash test ratings on the Previa was the one thing that I recall from the 90’s TV shows. I think it was dateline or 20/20 I recall one of the hosts calling his wife after the test was performed. He told to her to park the Previa and never drive it again. Kind of scary to think about how much worse they would be in an accident after 600k of use.
I remember seeing that. The steering wheel and column would thrust upward in a crash and impale the driver. No thanks.
The Previa was probably safer than the so called Toyota Van Wagon it replaced, that didn’t have much frontal crash protection at all.
But yes, Toyota’s are known for great reliability. I put 160,000 miles on my 96 Tercel, and the only replacements besides tires, were belts , wiper motor and brakes .Never had to replace light bulbs !!
That’s the Toyota/Lexus experience. My owned by over ten years Lexus SC300 has never needed an AAA a call. The well used and abused ’88 Corolla was the same from 290k to 320k. I loved my 320i, but she had more problems in the first month than all the combined Toyota product I’ve owned. Just saying my experience, while I duck for the hate.
While I like the shape of the Van/Wagon of the 1980s, I’ve ridden in the Previa, and I felt safer behind the wheel of it than the 80s version.
A friend of mine got 650,000 km on a Tercel wagon until it wasn’t worth fixing anymore. Even at the end, he drove it to the crusher. It was not safe to drive anymore, but it started and ran. While walking my dog today, I saw four, yes, four Corolla’s parked nose to tail near my house, all some shade of grey. They are a darned good city car.
They did no worse than many other vehicles. (Offhand, S-10 Blazers, Astros, and Cavaliers.)
I got to ride in a Previa while I was visiting England a few years ago. What amazed me was how comfortable it was to ride in compared to most cars I’ve ridden in. For being a forward control designed vehicle, I found it more comfortable than the Mitsubishi Delica my dad had. It was rather slow, compared to V6 and V8 powered vans, but for the vehicle, and what it was used for, I didn’t find it painfully slow.
I’ve always liked the Toyota Previa, more than the Sienna that replaced it. I’ve never owned a Previa, nor have I ever driven a Toyota Previa, but I got to ride in one when I was in England. I found it comfortable.
My God I love these vans. Very definitive of the early 90s, very optimistic and progressive and very high quality. And also, one of those rare combinations of durability and reliability.
I agree. If nothing else, I find them more attractive than the Sienna. I’d buy a Previa in a heartbeat if I could find one in good condition. Mileage be damned, if it’s been properly maintained and hasn’t been wrecked, I’d buy it.
I doubt I’d have one even if free but , they’re yet another Toyota ‘ Road Cockroach ‘ in that they’re designed to do a job and do soo very well ,long after the fancier & better looking vans are junked .
In the end this is what it’s all supposed to be about , not keeping Fanbois or Apologists like us/me happy .
When new, if I’m remembering the marketing correctly, these were actually considered pretty fancy. For a van, anyway. And to my eye, no one has designed a better looking minivan to date. The fact that they’re so durable is a bonus. If it weren’t for the complete and utter lack of crashworthiness, I might even drive one.
In Australia recently, I saw tons of some sort of variation of these. Not sure what the name was, and they appeared to be a standard Previa from the side, but when viewed from the front or rear, were considerably narrower than the US model. Like the whole thing was squished. Many in use as taxis and rental recreational vehicles.
Toyota AU called them tarago, there are slightly narrower models called Estima and Emina for the JDM the common method of killing them off is to ignore cooling system maintenance especially the diesels otherwise these things are indestructable.
Since I’m not from Australia or New Zealand, I’ve never seen a Tarago. But having seen pictures of the van on Youtube, they look very similar to the Previa sold here in North America.
I saw quite a few larger Taragos, but the ones I’m referring to must have been those JDM-type skinny vans. It was just weird to see a profile that screamed “Previa” and then from the rear see it only 2/3 the width. Funhouse mirror sort of effect.
The skinny JDM Estima and Emina were popular here as used imports from Japan for a while. Toyota only sold the wide-body Tarago here in Oz.
They previously used the Tarago name on the box you got as the Van Wagon (actually a Town Ace), and still use it on the Japanese Previa here. We don’t get your Sienna.
I love that’s a taxi and a pizza delivery vehicle. Can I get both in the same ride? It would be great for going to bars where they don’t have a kitchen.
I remember a customer using his Previa to carry painting materiel. The centre and rear seats were either removed, or folded down to make room for painting tools, etc.
My father had one of these. While it was a well built van overall, it did have some flaws. The engine was in between the front seats, which made servicing very difficult if not impossible. It did not have an independent rear suspension and the big solid axle in the back meant handling was very truck like. The rear wheel drive did not do well in snow and ice. Since the engine was in the middle of the van it used a drive shaft to power the accessories, which was in the front of the van. Over time the drive shaft would wear and start to rattle.
It was a solidly built van though, much better built than the Camry based Sienna that replaced it. I remember when it got rear ended. I was impressed how little damage there was and how easy the rear bumper was to replace.
The Previa the U.S. got was the 1st generation, I think, with the name used on a few other generations that reverted to the “conventional” dimensions used everywhere BUT the U.S.
Every now and then I see one of these on Craigslist and think about buying one, but you are lucky if you find one with less than 200 thousand miles on it. As good or better a choice is the 1st generation Odyssey.
The Previa may have its competencies consistent with Toyota products, but it may have done more to kill the minivan as a segment than any other entry.
The Previa is another van that could be featured in JPC’s articles on “How Hard is it to Build a Minivan.” Goofy styling and a lack of interior space were its main misses of the target. Toyota finally gave in and built a better quality Town & Country with the Sienna.
The eggmobile styling (hidden here by taxi livery) helped put a black-eye on the minivan and it looks about as wimpy as a vehicle can. It became the prototype for every cartoonist that wants to draw a minivan to this day, always driven by haggard parents dealing with funny smells from the back seat.
> It became the prototype for every cartoonist that wants to draw a minivan to this day
I never thought about that until you pointed it out. You’re absolutely right!
Eggmobile! My brother-in-law’s family had one, and called it the Moon Buggy.
Almost all of the Previas living in the Southern Tier finally rusted and/or wore out a few years ago, it sure is hard to find one.
Portland, OR is home to a number of Previas and I usually see 2-5 a day, but none are taxis. Some are more customized than others which sure makes them eye catching. Some people even resurrect Previas and get them road worthy again which shows dedication.
Surprisingly Previas are not one of the staple vehicles in South Central LA, but they are around.
It’s too bad that Toyota discontinued the Previa when they did. Between its futuristic shape and its front engine, rear-wheel drive layout, it’s the best of both contemporary and old-school. I like that. 🙂
It’s actually mid-engined, with the engine under/behind the front seats much like a cab-over truck.
Wasn’t the engine also leaned over, kinda like the old Chrysler slant six, rather than upright? I imagine access was difficult. How were the service points, e.g. oil, transmission, water accessed? For major engine repairs, did they have to hoist the car up and drop the engine?
Always thought it had a futuristic shape.
I know. I don’t know why I said “front engined”, since the engine was under the driver and passenger’s seats.
I have a ’93 full time 4WD pop top one man camper version (actually called the Toyota Lucida Estima) with the 3CT 2.2 intercooled turbo diesel . . it refuses to die . . just goes and goes and goes . . a couple of oil and filter changes per year . . and i expect it will still be going and going in another 22 years’ time
(btw it can ‘ton-up’ no trouble at all due to the slippery bullet shape, surprising fast for a ‘van’. .
Sweet. That’s another thing I find to be unforgivable: the lack of a turbo diesel engine. Is diesel for everyone? No, of course not. But for those who value better fuel economy, more low end torque, and a more durable engine, a diesel engine sounds like a better alternative.
I wonder if it’s still on it’s original engine and transmission. I doubt it, but even if they have been replaced or rebuilt in the land of no/little rust it may still be good to go for a long time until parts become a problem to obtain at a reasonable cost. Assuming the owner has a good connection with a mechanic that knows these van’s well and charges reasonable labor rates.
Tin worm ate these away up in NE IL. And I agree with this being another case of “How hard is it to … ?”
Has anyone ever ridden in a Previa? It is the ONLY vehicle I have ever ridden in that makes me so sick that I actually throw up after riding in it. For some reason the body motions are very boatlike – wallowing over bumps is like going over rough waves on an open sea. No thank you. I think they are hideous to boot. Plus the crash tests on them were downright scary. Not one of Toyota’s best efforts. Good riddance!!
That one had shot shocks. With good shocks the ride is pretty well-controlled.
Remember the big eggs?
Also found this:
IM former taxi driver , worked for yellow cab& had my own business, and u could NOT get vehicle for hire insurance in Florida for a 25 year old car,, they must have different system in Oregon!!
When I was on Ambergris Caye in Belize 4 years ago they had a bunch of these and the older Toyota Vans running around as taxis on the island. Island taxis are a good indicator of vehicle longevity. It’s a lot easier to ship a part than a whole new van to an island, so these workhorses seem to make a lot of sense.
I’ve always liked the 1991-96 Previa’s styling. I’ve ridden in one as a passenger, and I found it quite comfortable. What I didn’t like was its limited choice of engines offered during its time in the USA. Even given its small space, I would think that a 2.2l or a 2.4l turbo diesel would’ve fit comfortably inside the little compartment.