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What Car? says

4 out of 5 stars

For The Previa seats up to eight; sliding rear doors; refined and quiet

Against Lacks the versatility of more modern MPVs

Verdict Roomy, refined, hassle-free transport

Go for… 2.0 diesel

Avoid… Imports at UK prices

Toyota Previa MPV
  • 1. If the engine is misfiring, it could be caused by a fault in the fuel safety cut-off system
  • 2. The adjuster for the centre rear bench can jam
  • 3. Tyre wear can be heavy on the front, especially on diesels. Inspect the alloys for pitting, too
  • 4. Some versions have eight seats, but they don’t fold into the floor. Remove them and you get 2929 litres of space
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Toyota Previa MPV full review with expert trade views

The big Toyota is all about carrying people in comfort and does it well.

You get seven comfortable seats – some versions even have eight – but they don’t fold into the floor. However, you can slide the five rearmost chairs backwards and forwards to share out the legroom. There's not much luggage space if you leave all the seats in place, but you can remove them to leave a stadium-like 2929 litres of cargo space.

Also impressive is the way the Previa drives. The handling is tidy, the steering beefs up nicely as speeds rise, and the ride, which is a little firm in town, is composed and smooth.

The Previa makes a good long-distance motor, too – stable on the motorway, refined and quiet. It's all topped off with a reasonable driving position (although tall drivers will want more legroom) and good visibility.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Popular retail choice. Face-lift ’03, especially T Spirit, sells easily

James Ruppert
Used car guru

There are only two engines: a 154bhp 2.4 petrol and 114bhp 2.0 turbodiesel. The petrol is cheaper of the two to buy, but you’ll have to keep feeding it plenty of fuel, which soon eats into your saving. Most are hooked up to a four-speed automatic 'box, but this saps the engine's power. So, if you want the 2.4, sniff out one with a manual gearbox.

Overall, though, it’s worth paying extra for the turbodiesel. It has stacks of the low-down muscle you need for everyday driving, and is ideal for lugging seven people around. It’s also smooth, quiet and economical given the Previa’s size.

All models gained climate control in August 2001, but even the earliest, most basic models have air-con, twin front and side airbags and an alarm. We’d be happy with basic spec (T2 on later cars, GS on early ones). It’s better value than T3 (GLS on early cars). T Spirit (CDX) is the plushest.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

One of the better MPVs, but watch for engine problems

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct

Official UK cars aren’t cheap to buy – imports can be more affordable. But, once you’ve bitten the bullet, any Previa should hold its value well, which means you can recoup some of the premium when you flog it on later. You can also reckon on finding a buyer without too much hassle, especially if you’ve got the turbodiesel.

Fuel economy is another reason why the 2.0 D-4D is in more demand. You can get nearly 40mpg so long as you don’t cane it or trundle around all day in town. The 2.4 petrol will sting you for mid-20s to the gallon most of the time and you’ll be doing well to nudge it into the 30s, even on a motorway run.

Insurance costs are reasonable – group 12 for the petrol models and a modest group 11 for the diesels. Service costs are comparable with most other seven-seaters’, too.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Popular retail choice. Face-lift ’03, especially T Spirit, sells easily

James Ruppert
Used car guru

The Previa is a reliable, strong motor that soaks up hard use well. That's good news, but it does make the car an ideal candidate for clocking. So, avoid any models without a full service history.

Otherwise, there's little to worry about, and the engines and gearboxes should give little cause for concern. If the engine is misfiring, it could be caused by a fault in the fuel safety cut-off system – one of the few known problems with a Previa.

Another is the adjuster for the centre rear bench, which can jam, while tyre wear can be heavy on the front, especially on diesels. While you’re at it, inspect the alloys for pitting. And because it’s a big vehicle, the bodywork can pick up parking knocks.

Finally, make sure you know what you’re buying. A fair number of imports are kicking around, so check on the V5 registration document to see if it’s an official UK car or an import. Pay less for an import.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

One of the better MPVs, but watch for engine problems

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct
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