When Toyota first introduced the Previa into the U.S. market it's then futuristic styling, practicality and value for money offered the public an alternative to a very well established French competitor the Renault Espace, which had dominated the MPV market until then. In addition the Previa seemed to finally convince other motor manufacturers that there really was a market for MPVs, and over the coming years saw the staggered introduction of other rivals. However, few could actually compete with the convincing argument displayed by the Toyota Previa which includes eight seat accommodation, automatic transmission as standard and conventional saloon car performance with a top speed around 110 mph and zero to sixty in about eleven seconds. This kind of on road performance would have been expected of a large family manual saloon of the period rather than a cavernous auto MPV the size of a large van.
The 1991 Toyota Previa owed its performance to a lusty 2.4 litre petrol engine that produced a maximum 133 bhp @ 5600 rpm and torque equivalent to 152lb ft @ 4000 rpm. Fuel consumption was respectable for a vehicle of this size at an average 17 mpg with a touring figure of around 28 mpg. The fuel tank could accommodate 22.1 gallons which provided a maximum range of over 600 miles. Problems with the engine in these vehicles are rare. In the U.K. the 1992 Toyota Previa saw a slight power rise to 135 bhp.
The 1991 Toyota Previa that arrived on English shores came as a base GL version 5dr MPV offering 8 seats, f/r discs brakes, PAS, s/roof, e/wins, c/lock. A GX version offered the same as the GL plus air-conditioning, ABS, air-bag, alloys, c/control, 7 captains chairs swivel seats, full size spare. Alloy wheels were not available until 1993.
It is hardly surprising that a design created for the early '90's market should now be showing its age. However the 1991 Toyota Previa has really only just begun to do so, most noticeably in regard to the instrumentation which now looks dated and could have been better positioned. On the up-side the Toyota offers a good driving position with excellent all-round visibility and continues to offer family sized accommodation the envy of rivals even by today's standards. The interior of the GS model however does lack versatility despite seating up to eight people. The seats in the GS do not swivel or do anything remotely clever, while the usefully, large single sliding door located on the right side will undoubtedly leave middle and rear seat passengers stranded if the driver ever forgets when parking that there is no way they can get out of the left side of the vehicle.
The load capacity is absolutely huge, much bigger than most rivals, this Toyota is genuinely family sized and offers real space for luggage, something many other MPVs fail to provide.
If you have driven an MPV built over the past two or three years you will notice that by comparison with a 1991 Toyota Previa newer vehicles feel less bulky. Again technology has made advances and a 1991 Toyota Previa will simply endorse this. However the ride remains good while handling causes no concern in wet or dry weather.
A 1991 Toyota Previa does offer a road presence still able to attract admiration and even a little envy from families multiplying their numbers to a point where family sized saloons are no longer a viable proposition. All in all the original Toyota Previa continues to offer practical and reliable transportation at a very reasonable price. The reality of buying a used MPV really depends on whether you want or need as much carrying capacity as is available from a very reliable machine. If you do then you should begin your search for a 1991 Toyota Previa and if that fails try for a 1992 Toyota Previa and so on.