Monday, June 18, 2012

Used Car Review - Toyota Previa (2003-2006)

If the previous three vehicles that Myk Belmonte presented are for those who are adventurous and brave enough to drive, the next two automobiles are for those who don't possess a drivers license and plan to ferry numerous kids to different schools. So, kids and parents, have this car on your list if you plan to upgrade your family car.

2003-2006 Toyota Previa

Estima, Previa, and Tarago; these are the names given to Toyota's popular minivan which is a fixture in Japan and some Asian countries. The word "Previa" was derived from Italian for "preview" and not from a soap sold in the Philippines (that's if you replace its letter "a" with "e"). Enough of soaps, Toyota saw that the first Previa - released in 1990 - as the vehicle that would preview technologies utilized in future minivans of the brand.

10 years later saw the launch of the second generation (with the platform code XR30 or XR40) in most of the world markets (except for North America, they receive the Sienna). It switched from rear wheel drive to front wheel, had two sliding doors instead of one, gave way to V6, hybrid, and diesel engine options, and wheelbase was longer than its predecessor; but this meant the loss of supercharging, stick shift action, and four wheel drive.

Toyota Motor Philippines introduced the second generation Previa in late 2003 thanks to the abolished taxation system that levied taxes to vehicles based on engine displacement. It also supplanted the Hiace and Revo in the lineup. The Previa became a hit among the upper class crowd due to its roomy cabin, luxurious interior, and the vaunted Toyota reliability. It was sold locally until 2006, with the XR50 Previa replacing it on that year.

Value and Costs
With resale prices between P550,000-P650,000 for local units, a Toyota Previa is one good choice if you prioritize luxury and comfort for less cash. Be warned while browsing online selling sites, you will encounter second gen Previas wearing the Estima badge, having a selling price of less than the local ones, and the options of the three engines; these are used imports from Japan and better avoid them without saying.

You might know this (or maybe not) that the Previa is based from the Toyota Camry, which means mechanical parts are shared with each other. And with the proliferation of used Japanese imports, parts are plenty but with varying prices. In contrast with the 1990-2000 Previa, you won't face cooling problems (the gen 2 Previa's engine is located in front, not under the driver), which means no serious niggles with the XR30/XR40 Previa.

Exterior and Interior
With an exterior resembling an egg, and couple it with a shapely snout, daring headlights, and sexy curves; you won't be ridiculed with that minivan stigma. If you follow the fashion trends among minivans sold in Asia and minivans sold in America (particularly the Northern portion), Asian ones are sexier and you won't mind driving alone (Japanese yuppies drive Minivans and MPVs to work and to gimik spots).

Stretching your legs is a strength of the Previa. The portion between the driver and front passenger seats is clutter free and you can walk towards the rear seats. Cubbyholes - lots of them - are present on the dashboard, but be careful on storing your stuff there since you might lost them inside. Question: where is the shifter? Answer: behind the steering wheel. The shifter can either be for shifting gears on the go or a joystick that are paired in arcade games (I'm just kidding on the latter).

Among the three engine options available, a 2AZ-FE 2,362cc with VVT-i valve train is the sole choice for our market. Having 157hp at 5,700rpm and 225Nm at 4,000rpm under the hood, the Previa pulls decently in low speeds. Go faster with a full load and you will feel the engine is burdened with the body weight and only 4-cylinders with it. Initial throttle response is without soul but get things going and everything would be fine. It would be nice if the V6 and diesel engines are locally sold before.

Driving Impressions
Having the Camry as the donor vehicle, the Previa drives similarly to its sedan platformate. It is comfortable, but those who sideline as a drag racer outside race tracks won't like to take this van. Why? It inherits a soft suspension, cushy ride, and lifeless handling. Besides, you don't purchase a minivan to thrash it over and evade traffic lights. You buy one for practicality, seating capacity for the kids and even the clan, and to arrive at your destination safely.

Kids and moms are huge fans of minivans. Why do I say so? Gobbles of space, easy to park and drive, plus it's comfortable to ride in. Going back to school had never been fun when you arrive in style with the Previa. But, pick your passengers accordingly (choose seven children to hop in) to fully utilize the comfort that the minivan could offer. Perhaps you can offer school bus service to students in your neighborhood with the Previa?

The Good:
  • Luxury interior set-up
  • Stylish looking
  • You can arrive in style
The Bad:
  • Tight rear room
  • No V6 or Diesel available locally
  • Centered gauges can be hard to read
The Pick: Any well maintained local unit

Engine: 2,362cc 2AZ-FE I4 gasoline
Power: 157hp @ 5,700rpm
Torque: 225Nm @ 4,000rpm
Fuel Consumption: 5-7km/L (city), 9-12km/L (highway) (*estimated and varies)
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
Suspension: Front McPherson strut, rear torsion beam

Price (New): P1,688,000-P1,780,000 (range from 2003-2006)
Price (Now): P550,000-P650,000
Rivals: Chevrolet Venture, Chrysler Town and Country, Kia Carnival, Nissan Serena, Mitsubishi Space Gear, Mitsubishi Grandis

Toyota Pasong Tamo - 893-8084
Toyota Makati - 897-3333
Toyota Manila Bay - 581-6168

Photos courtesy of

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