Toyota Motor Corporation, a Japanese auto manufacturer that is part of one of the largest companies in the world, has had an extensive portfolio of automobile models over the nine decades of the company’s existence. The Toyota Motor Corporation was founded in 1937, and it is the parent company of several other vehicle brands. Other brands under the Toyota corporate umbrella include Scion, the sporty and youthful brand, and Lexus, the premium brand. Toyota has stakes in and partnerships with several other automotive manufacturers, as well. Toyota’s extensive experience in the automotive industry has led to the development of plenty of new technology, although Toyota has also been successful in producing basic safe and reliable vehicles, such as Toyota minivans. There have been several prominent Toyota van models, some of which have remained popular even as the minivan segment has fallen out of favor, particularly in North America.
The Previa is a Toyota minivan that was introduced in 1990. Though the Previa has been sold around the world, different markets have had different names and badging. In the vehicle’s domestic market of Japan, for example, it is known as the Toyota Estima. In some parts of Asia, this Toyota minivan is called the Canarado, and in Australia, it is badged as the Tarago. The Toyota Previa, regardless of badging, is built at Toyota assembly facilities in Kariya and Toyota, in Aichi, Japan. The Previa is the second largest of the Toyota minivan models, and the largest of the Toyota vans offered in most Western Hemisphere countries. Unlike most minivans, the first generation Toyota Previa had a mid-engine layout, with the engine mounted under the front seat. This required removing the passenger seat and carpet to access some parts of the engine for routine maintenance. Though variations of a modern generation Previa are still produced for many countries, this Toyota van was discontinued in the United States in 1997, as the vehicle failed to demonstrate it could capture market share from its main competition, the Chrysler, Dodge and Plymouth minivan family. For the 1997 model year, the Sienna became the premier Toyota minivan in the North American market, designed with the American consumer in mind. The Toyota Sienna offered more conventional minivan styling and a traditional front engine layout that was less intimidating, based on the platform from the Toyota Camry sedan. This enabled Toyota to offer the Sienna with a more competitive range of drivetrain options. Toyota also offered the Sienna with optional all-wheel drive, a unique feature in the minivan segment. The Toyota Sienna was initially produced at Toyota’s Georgetown, Kentucky assembly facility, but the Princeton, Indiana took over for production of the second generation Sienna.