Toyota Previa

The Toyota Previa represents the second minivan introduced by Toyota. The Previa made its debut in 1990 as a replacement for the aging Toyota Van. The reliable Previa sold fairly well, but the minivan itself went out of favor when SUV fever swept the U.S., and it ceased production in 1997.

More on the Toyota Previa
About the Toyota Previa

First and foremost, the Toyota Previa is known for its reliability.

Acceleration of the Previa makes an average impression, but at high rpm the engine tends to rattle and shake the floor, creating an annoying noise in the cabin of the vehicle. Shifting between third and fourth remains fairly smooth, though, making for an easy transition between city and highway driving. Although the standard engine isn’t exactly a racer (and who wants a minivan to race anyway), it does tend to pass easily without losing any power.

The interior of the vehicle offers a nice design. The unique, W-shaped dashboard appeals to buyers. It places controls within reach, making them easy to use. Climate controls are poorly marked however, making it difficult to manage the temperature while on the move. (The controls require taking your eyes off the road to figure them out.) The rear headrests for the passengers in the back tend to obstruct some of the view inside the vehicle; otherwise visibility remains pretty good for a van. Passengers get a lot of legroom, headroom, and shoulder space. Unfortunately the backbench does not truly fit the advertised three passengers.

Toyota Previa Features

Toyota offered several engines throughout the Previa run. The original model, introduced in 1991, only offers a 2.4-liter twin cam that produces 138 horsepower with 154 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed manual transmission comes standard, but a four-speed automatic provides an option. The engine mounts underneath the front seats, causing the excessive cabin noise the Previa experiences. A supercharged engine debuted in the 1994 model year. The 2.4-liter engine produces 161 horsepower with 201 lb-ft of torque. Toyota dropped the five-speed manual transmission with the introduction of the supercharged engine.

Gas mileage falls in an average range: 16/20 mpg city/highway.

Nevertheless, the Previa faced a few nagging issues throughout its run. The air-conditioner often dies on all model years. Toyota supplied a new refrigerant system to solve the problem. Look for vehicles that have this repair. A faulty expansion valve in the air-conditioner caused a problem in the 1992 and 1993 model years.

Between 1992 and 1994, the A-40 automatic transmission system proved faulty. The automatic transmission may shift improperly due to rubber check balls being too small, causing them to blow through the transmission plate—a very serious issue.

Coolant leaks occur with the 1991 edition of the Previa.

The models built between 1993 and 1995 have an oxygen sensor that needs to be replaced every 80,000 miles.

Toyota made a few recalls during the Previa run, including windshield wiper replacements in 1991, failure of the Fujitsu radio components that may cause sparks and a fire in 1991, and oil leaks that occur when the vehicle pushes above 75 mph.

The Previa did not have the greatest safety record until the driver-side airbag debuted, as well as the knee bolsters and passenger-side airbag. Government crash tests give the Previa a passing grade for front and side collisions, although side collisions put passengers at a greater risk of injury.

Toyota Previa Evolution

The Toyota Previa debuted in 1990. In 1992, the Previa received a driver’s side airbag, knee bolsters underneath the front dash, and a rear light that mounts in the center of the liftgate. This represents the first minivan to meet all requirements for passenger safety set forth by the government.

The van received no major changes in 1993, but in 1994 the Previa got a passenger-side airbag as a standard feature and a supercharged engine. Toyota offered new trim lines as well, including the LE supercharged and LE supercharged All-Trac. The supercharged engine produces 161 horsepower and 201 lb-ft of torque. A new steering wheel, a strap on the liftgate, front bucket seats, and a new front bumper and spoiler also add to the Previa design.

The supercharged engine became available for the base DX trim line in 1995.

In 1996, the supercharged engine provided the only option. The trim lines reduced to the DX supercharged (S/C) two-wheel drive, the DX S/C All-Trac, the LE S/C two-wheel drive, and the LE S/C All-Trac.

In 1997, the noise produced in the cabin reduced significantly. Unfortunately, Toyota only resolved this major fault for the final year of the Previa line.

Select a Toyota Previa Year

1997 Toyota Previa


First introduced to the market in 1990 as an MPV/minivan, Toyota stopped production of the Previa in 1997.

1996 Toyota Previa


The 1996 Toyota Previa is a unique entry into the competitive minivan market.

1995 Toyota Previa


The 1995 Toyota Previa minivan has a solid reputation for longevity and lots of comfort.