The Toyota Previa Is a Bizarre Creation That Deserves More Respect
The Toyota Previa: What a strange and charming little blast from the past. If you are of a certain age, you might remember the days when every family had a minivan. And not some cool minivan with knobby tires and a roof tent. No, it was an egg-shaped thing that no one liked, but everyone respected. In those days, dads wouldn’t hardly be caught driving one either, but they respected it. In the early ‘90s, minivans were a staple in every driveway, and we liked it that way. These days, it feels like 80% of the minivans got replaced by giant SUVs that are still basically minivans. It’s maddening.
While many minivans at the time were fairly boring and made only to be practical, there were a couple of insane outliers that stalked only the bravest and most interesting of parents’ driveways. King of all the Bizarre minivans was the Toyota Previa. Kneel before it and marvel at its wonder.
Why is the Toyota Previa so popular?
The Previa is the perfect mix of something we remember from our childhood while also being pretty rare with an extremely silly set of features. Many people like to jokingly compare the Toyota Previa to a supercar because it was a supercharged, mid-engined, AWD minivan. It’s a funny little cliche that is thrown around the internet like a college kid’s hacky sack.
The funny little van isn’t fast or really that good in many measurable ways at all. Those features are true, yet they don’t make it any better to drive than a Honda Odyssey or Dodge Caravan from the time. That said, the Toyota Previa is probably more popular today than it was in its time.
People love the Previa for three reasons: Quality, nostalgia, and irony. For the record, these are all great reasons to love a car. The quality side comes from Toyota’s long-standing, well-earned reputation for making simple cars that work well for a long time. That means if the Previa speaks to your nostalgia and you dig its funny features, then you can, in good conscience, buy one and probably enjoy it because it’s still a Toyota. Nostalgia is easy to understand. Even if your parents didn’t have a Previa, you probably knew someone who did, or at least remember them from your childhood. The Irony factor is a bit sillier, but car nerds are silly. As previously stated, we love jokingly calling this thing a supercar. The specs, although largely underperforming, are still fun to have in a minivan.
Is the Toyota Previa reliable?
The Toyota Previa is still known for being a solid, reliable van. However, when you look at all that it has going on, it’s really impressive that Toyota was able to make it work so well.
The Toyota Previa preceded Toyota’s current minivan offering, the Toyota Sienna. Before the Sienna, the Previa was produced from 1991 to 1997. As mentioned earlier, the Previa had quite a list of features, and none of them are typical for minivans. The Supercharger is one of the most extreme.
The two versions of the Previa were both insane from a specs perspective. The base model was a naturally aspirated, manual, RWD, mid-engined minivan making 138 hp. If you were really trying to live, you would have opted for the Supercharged, AWD version making 161 hp. Unfortunately, the supercharged version came only in automatic.
Despite all these crazy features, the Previa is still known as a reliable van today, assuming it was well-cared for in its prime.
What are the weirdest interior features of the Toyota Previa?
The Toyota Previa is chock full of unique features that you aren’t likely to find in other vans. Doug DeMuro has a great video showing all the strange features in action. Instead of listing dozens of features, check out the video to see them all work.
A few stand-out features are things like the super-long windshield, left-side emergency brake, and the rotating captain’s chairs. The chairs are a personal favorite because they make the Previa a perfect conversion camper or just a general-purpose road trip machine.
No matter what itch the Toyota Previa scratches for you, it is a van that has captivated car nerds for decades now. I sincerely hope minivans get this cool again, but I won’t hold my breath.