Taking our Sunday walk recently, the wife and I played a little game we sometimes engage in – count the car we most frequently encounter in our small suburb here in Tokyo. The winner, at nine sightings, was the Toyota Probox. That fact may speak more broadly to our mostly middle-class neighborhood…in other more affluent areas of Tokyo (like where Tatra87 lives, lucky guy…), you’d probably find a flock of G-Wagons…
And you likely can’t find a more polar opposite to a G-Wagon than a Probox. The Probox is a subcompact five-door wagon, mostly used as a commercial vehicle. It’s a favorite of fleet managers, tradesmen, and delivery services – because it’s very reliable and very inexpensive. According to Toyota’s Japanese website, the cost of a basic Probox DX with a 1.3 liter four cylinder engine is 1,399,200 yen, which at the current exchange rate is approximately $13,400.
And basic it is…I’m not sure I’ve seen a dash this bare since the 1960’s. No Nav, no CD, just a radio. Well, this is Japan, so rather than jammin’ to your tunes, your boss would prefer you to be thinking about that leaky water pipe you’re enroute to fix.
Basic are the underpinnings also – struts up front and a trailing link axle in the back. Carrying capacity is 400 kilograms. Engine options are the 1.3, a 1.5, and a 1.5 Hybrid. First generation models could be had with a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic – the current model comes only with a CVT.
The Probox was introduced in 2002 – and the first gen was made unchanged until 2014. It received a mild styling update and the second generation has been in production since. It is actually assembled by Daihatsu, in its Oyamazaki plant in Kyoto. It’s one of the few models the Toyota subsidiary assembles for its parent that doesn’t have a Daihatsu equivalent.
And as a Toyota (Daihatsu), it excels at what it was designed to do; get you and your sales presentation, tools, delivery items, or other stuff from Point A to B. Consequently, it’s a familiar sight on streets throughout Japan.
And this being Japan, it even has fans in the “tuner crowd”…