Review of "Toyota Previa"

published 30/11/2001 | stevethesleeve
Member since : 04/05/2001
Reviews : 110
Members who trust : 107
About me :
Pro Big genuine 7-seater. Very reliable.
Cons Very dull...and butt-ugly!
very helpful
Road Handling
Fuel consumption

"You're ugly, and your Mother dresses you funny"

My life seems to consist, at the moment, of reading, writing, avoiding anything that resembles real work and driving squillions of miles around Britain and France for no better reason than –BECAUSE IT’S THERE!

For good or ill, I am obliged to drive a number of different vehicles on these sorties, some good, some bad and some just downright ugly.

A prime example of the latter is a four-year-old Toyota Previa. 60,000 miles on the clock, an automatic gearbox and 2.4 litre petrol engine under the bonnet. Well, under the front seat actually.

Being a Toyota, this bus is extremely reliable. It is also seriously boring, bloody uncomfortable and butt-ugly. OK, so I’m being subjective, but it’s my bum on the seat and the bloody thing has been parked outside my window for the past few days just…squatting there, like a smug cockroach on steroids. Kafka, where are you now? ‘cos if that sucker starts taking pleasure out of running up and down walls, I’m going to need all the help I can get!

Let’s get down and dirty with some hard-won facts.

Interior: Large, with good headroom (I’m about 6’2”, and have absolutely no problems with the height) and fairly good elbow room for the driver. It comes with seven seats, two of which, at the rear, fold up against the sides of the vehicle when extra luggage space is needed.

This isn’t a difficult job, but it is a tad awkward, as you have to lower the seat back (against fairly strong resistance) remove the headrest, pull the release tag and then hoist the lot hard against the wall, while grappling like a loon for the webbing belt which hooks onto a mounting above the window. Then you’ve got to get under the bus looking for the headrest that you knocked to the ground while wrestling with the seat, retrieve it, hope that that stuff isn’t what it looks like, (sniff…damn, it is, hope it doesn’t leave a stain) squirt it with Febreze and slot it into the holder on the bottom of the (now raised, thank god) seat. Am I being a baby and making too much of this? I expect so, but until you’ve tried it, you’ll NEVER KNOW.

So, plenty of room for 7 people without too much luggage, or 5 people with tons of luggage. Sadly, life isn’t like that, and compromises may have to be reached if you’re going to be filling the beast with family, friends and the contents of their homes.

Seats are covered in a rather scratchy, tweedy stuff, and are far from squidgy. So far from squidgy that they’ve passed through into another dimension of discomfort, being so unresisting that my bum generally needs a bit of a massage after a journey of more than 30 minutes. (You should see the looks on the faces of some of the people I’ve asked to perform this simple and necessary task in service station car parks)

Dash is good, with clear instruments fairly well placed. Big old steering wheel. Gear selector on the steering column, which gives rise to the occasional panic when forgetting which one’s the indicator. Hasn’t an engine got lots of bits when you’re trying to pick them all up from the middle lane of a motorway? Plenty of foot room, but the distance and height difference between the gas and brake pedals is huge, so town driving gives me ankle ache. That said, I do have dodgy ankles from years of violent and pathologically insane sports so I’m pretty susceptible to such things.

Exterior: Big flappy doors for the front seats, and a sliding one for the rear. That’s right, ONE sliding door. I.e. a door on ONE side of the vehicle. This is bonkers if you’ve got kids, elderly relatives or friends who get tanked up and don’t check for passing buses etc before flinging themselves into the road. It’s sometimes necessary to do a three-point in order to allow passengers out safely. Loading large circus animals and wardrobes would also be easier if two people could work one at each side. They can’t, so Gerry Smart’s elephants are safe from ME. There’s also a lifting tailgate which, when raised fully is fine, but in my experience often only goes into a sort of horizontal position unless you actively shove it up further. This horizontal position is, by some eerie coincidence, at the same height as my temples, and I don’t need any more pain in my life than that offered by a teenage daughter. Thanks all the same.

General observations and gripes: There is an electrically operated sunroof and the front windows are electric too, but on my non-air-conditioned (or should that be air non-conditioned?) model, the rear is only served for ventilation by two windows right at the very back which open a scant few centimetres on those ‘elbow’ openers. Useless for keeping passengers cool or for letting the elephants have a sniff of passing cars.

Loads of glass, hence great visibility all round but a bugger to keep clean. Also, heat tends to build up very quickly when, or if, the sun comes out.

Dark blue metallic paint. Very cool, very chic, very covered in streaks after washing due to living in a hard water area.

Running costs are a major headache, as it’ll only do about 15 miles to the gallon, or around 50km per 10 litres of unleaded in normal use, though on steady motorway runs it’ll go up to 20 mpg, or around 68 km per 10l. On the upside, though, there shouldn’t be much in the way of extra maintenance costs over and above regular servicing.

There’s not much in the way of acceleration, but it’ll quietly and efficiently get up to cruising speed with its incredibly smooth gear changes scarcely making themselves noticed. The rear-wheel drive is fine in most circumstances, but an uphill T-junction with any weight aboard will have the front wheels slithering around for a couple of ‘trouser’ moments (i.e. will I need to change them?) before getting back on the straight and narrow.

Summary: It’s a great, if rather expensive, MPV. Reliable, spacious, dull, dull, boring and dull. I hate it with a vengeance, but I don’t generally have to carry families around…with or without their elephants.

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Comments on this review

  • firm-and-pert published 14/05/2004
    Did you say that the seats go horizontal ???
  • mattygroves published 11/10/2002
    I have to say, as these big monster people carriers go, I don't think it's all that ugly. But then, I've never been in one. Nor have I ever tried to load an elephant into one. Or, indeed, into ANY vehicle. BTW, did you know that this is your most read op? Cheers, Kate
  • FrooTee published 20/07/2002
    I am trying to decide between this & a Renault Espace at the moment - have about £6000 to spend and want as new a car as poss and this seems to be coming out best for the money. Excellent op, thanks. K:) xx
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Most popular similar products

Product Information : Toyota Previa

Manufacturer's product description

MPV - Petrol, Diesel

Product Details

Body Type: MPV

Fuel Type: Petrol; Diesel

Range: Toyota Previa

Manufacturer: Toyota


Listed on Ciao since: 28/08/2001