The Transformation of the Toyota Estima
First Generation (1990 – 1999)
The first generation TOYOTA ESTIMA was released in May 1990 as a newly developed vehicle model. It featured a mid-engined platform, thereby employing a form and functionality completely differed from those of existing minivans. The exterior was designed primarily by Toyota’s North American design studio CALTY, and the main target was the North American marketplace. The form utilized an egg-like motif, and the commercial catch copy was marketed as the “Intelligent Egg.” The body measured in length, width, and height at 4,750mm, 1,800mm, and 1,780mm respectively, thus boasting a spacious and wide body that was not common among other Japanese models. Furthermore, it boasted a height that was low for a minivan, thus emphasizing the wide and low design concept.
For the interior as well, the installment of three rows of seating led to a riding capacity of 7-8 people. Moreover, because the engine did not stick out, walk-through became possible. To achieve this, the gear shift lever was made column-mounted, and the parking brake lever was also placed on the door-side of the driver’s seat. For the rear, a sliding door was installed on the left side only.
The 2,438cc gasoline engine with 135 horsepower was installed almost flat (at a 75-degree angle) under the floor.
For the transmission, the 4-speed automatic was made available for all vehicles.
Drive system options consisted of the MR and 4WD.
In August 1991, heat ray-reflecting window shield glass and adjustable front armrests were newly installed to improve riding comfort. Moreover, rear spoilers with high-mount stop lamps and side door beams were installed as standard equipment, further improving safety features. Fuel consumption measured at 8.1km/L for the MR and 7.2km/L for the 4WD.
In August 1994, with the aim to improve running performance, a model equipped with a supercharger was added to the lineup, with the engine boasting an improved power output of 160 horsepower. Furthermore, the front bumper design was changed to emphasize greater wideness. In addition, in terms of the interior, the first two rows of seats were installed with separated headrests, and the console box was enlarged.
In August 1996, with the aim to improve safety features, dual airbags, ABS, and seatbelts with child seat securing functions were installed to all vehicles as standard equipment.
In January 1998, minor changes were made to the exterior design. The design alterations centered on the headlights, front grille, and general front area, leading to a more refined look that emphasized wideness. Additionally, for the interior, changes were made to the seat covers and trimming materials to achieve greater quality and texture.
Second Generation (2000 – 2005)
In January 2000, a full model change led to the Estima’s evolution to its second generation model. In terms of the chassis, there was a switch from the mid-engined layout to the FF layout based on the Camry platform; thus, the engine room was enlarged, and an increase in crushable space was achieved. The body remained more or less the same size as the previous generation model, measuring in length, width, and height at 4,750mm, 1,790mm, and 1,770mm respectively; thus, usability in the city was secured.
Though the exterior design remained based on the egg-like one-motion form, to accommodate the switch to an FF layout, the front bonnet was made longer and its incline was made sharper, thereby emphasizing sportiness. Moreover, to match this, the headlight design was changed from one that was horizontally long to one that was vertically long and slanted at the corners. For the sides of the body, by making the fender arch more three-dimensional, the body had a stronger presence.
Riding capacity remained 7-person or 8-person. Rear sliding doors were installed on both sides, leading to increased usability and passenger experience when getting on and off the vehicle.
Two types of engines – the inline four-cylinder 2,462cc gasoline engine with 160 horsepower and the V-type six-cylinder 2,994cc gasoline engine with 220 horsepower – were made available.
The transmission available for all vehicles was the 4-speed automatic.
The drive system options consisted of the FF and 4WD.
Fuel consumption measured at 10.6km/L for the FF with inline four-cylinder 2,462cc gasoline engine with 160 horsepower, 10.2km/L for the 4WD with inline four-cylinder 2,462cc gasoline engine with 160 horsepower, 9.4km/L for the FF with V-type six-cylinder 2,994cc gasoline engine with 220 horsepower, and 8.6km/L for the 4WD with V-type six-cylinder 2,994cc gasoline engine with 220 horsepower.
In April 2001, the immobilizer system was installed as standard equipment.
In May 2003, minor changes were made to the interior and exterior. The design of the lower area of the front bumper was changed, and the headlights were further made crystal-like, making for a more refined impression.
In September 2004, improvements were made to the inline four-cylinder 2,462cc engine with 160 horsepower, leading to greater environmental performance. As such, certification as “2010 Fuel Consumption Standards +5% Achieving Vehicle” was attained.
Third Generation (2006 - )
In January 2006, the current third generation model was introduced. The traditional one-motion form that had been used since the first generation model was again carried over; however, the headlights were changed to ones that were slanted down at the corners, and the side design was made simpler, thus leading to an overall refined and simplified impression. As for the chassis, that of the Alphard/Vellfire was used.
For the interior, though the riding capacity remained the same, the coloring and materials used were closely reevaluated, leading to a brighter and more open interior space. The seat arrangement also underwent improvements; for the 7-person type, the second row of seats were newly able to slide 800m, thereby securing a spacious leg room. Moreover, for the 8-person type, the second row of seats was separated 6:4, thereby improving usability. Furthermore, storage space was secured under the floor of the third row of seats, leading to increased storage capabilities.
The engine lineup consisted of two types: the inline four-cylinder 2,362cc gasoline engine with 170 horsepower and the V-type six-cylinder 3,456cc gasoline engine with 280 horsepower.
The transmission that could be combined was the CVT with the inline four-cylinder 2,363cc 170-horsepower engine, and the 6-speed automatic for the V-type six-cylinder 3,456cc 280-horespower engine.
The drive system options consisted of the FF and 4WD for all engines.
Fuel consumption measured at 12.4km/L for the FF with the inline four-cylinder 2,362cc 170-horsepower engine, 11.4km/L for the 4WD with the inline four-cylinder 2,362cc 170-horsepower engine, 9.8km/L for the FF with the V-type six-cylinder 3,456cc 280-horsepower engine, and 9.4km/L for the 4WD with the V-type six-cylinder 3,456cc 280-horsepower engine.
In June 2007, improvements were made to the V-type six-cylinder 3,456cc 280-horsepower engine, enhancing environmental performance. As such, it was certified as a “2005 Gas Emission Standards 75% Reduction Level.”
In December 2008, minor changes were made to the exterior design, focusing primarily on the front design, and in particular, the headlights. Additionally, the headlights, grille, and bumper designs were more integrated, leading to a uniform look. Moreover, for the equipment options as well, cruise control, rear seat view mirrors, audio steering switch, and other equipment were newly added as standard equipment, further improving usability.
In December 2009, the two engines underwent further improvements; the inline four-cylinder 2,362cc 170-horsepower engine was able to achieve certification as a “2010 Fuel Consumption Standards +25% Achieving Vehicle,” and the V-type six-cylinder 3,456cc 280-horsepower engine was able to achieve certification as “2010 Fuel Consumption Standards +10% Achieving Vehicle.”
In May 2012, the Aeras, a sporty grade equipped with aero parts, underwent changes to its bumper and front grille designs. For the bumper, the opening of both sides of the lower grille was enlarged, achieving an even sportier look.
In May 2013, the parking assist “Panoramic View Monitor,” Clearance Sonar, and Back Sonar were introduced as equipment options.
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