Published on June 25th, 2014 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez2
Toyota Estima 2.4 VVTi Used Car Review
The continued rise in sales of MPVs shows that the well to-do in Malaysia are not the least bit affected by the spiraling cost of petrol. One of the most popular MPVs since its first introduction some 25 years ago has been the Toyota Estima. Its basic egg-shape coach has not changed much and this week we look at the most recent model that has been driving out of showrooms of grey car dealers faster than they can get them imported in.
This third-generation Toyota Estima delivers excellent comfort, abundant space and practicality and drives much like a luxury car. Despite being more expensive than the local opposition like the Nissan Serena and Naza Ria the Estima is clearly dominating the Malaysian MPV segment and that’s no surprise. Just look at the number you see running on our roads.
Powering this MPV is a 2.4 litre VVT-i (Variable Valve Timing with Intelligence) double overhead cam 16-valve 2AZ-FE all-alloy four engine that is competent and modern in design. Mated to a new 4-speed U241E transaxle gearbox that shifts quickly, smoothly and is quite intelligent. There is also a 3-liter version however we feel that a 2.4 liter MPV is more than sufficient especially with current fuel prices.
The Estima’s body is quite large and requires some careful placement on narrow roads. Noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels are kept commendably low. Dual contra-rotating engine balance shafts, anti-vibration suspension sub-frames and supports, a two-stage rear muffler and extensive use of sound deadening material all make a difference. At high speed, wind noise is minimal.
MPV’s are bought for their carrying capacity and versatility and this Estima delivers starting at the rearmost row, the 8-seater offers a reclining bench seat, which can be slid 825mm fore-aft. With the seat fully forward there’s adequate legroom – but if you slide it all the way back there is a huge abundance of space. Rear cargo area volume in each extreme varies accordingly – from just enough to fit a week’s groceries all the way through to 3 suitcases and some for the family holiday. Cargo access is made easy by a low load lip and there’s a 12-volt power socket in the back to power electrical. Ensuring rear occupant comfort are air conditioning vents and controls which are installed above the heads of both the second and third row passengers. Sliding doors on both sides of the Estima allow for easy entry and exit.
The front doors open wide and with a relatively low floor, access to the front seats is easy. Generous headroom and a flat floor allow walk-through central access to the rear. Up front, there is plenty of stowage for personal items and also storage areas can be found throughout the vehicle. The sculpted dashboard houses the ventilation, air conditioning, hazard lights, clock and in car entertainment unit. Other cabin features include a lights-on warning beeper, auto lights setting and power side view mirrors. Power windows in the front and second row only, while the rearmost side glass is fixed.
To help maintain its good walk-through access, the Estima is fitted with a park brake and gear selector off the floor. A foot-operated park brake as fitted in the Toyota Camry is light and easy to operate.
One of the most striking aspects of the current Estima is its styling. The multi-reflector headlights give the front-end a very sharp look, while the massive rake of the windscreen creates an appealing wedge profile. Sharply styled lights are again used on the tail, with wrap-around style windows and a subtle roof spoiler incorporating a high-mount brake light used to help reduce rear aerodynamic lift and drag. This spoiler and a gradually tapering roofline contribute to the Estima’s superb Cd figure which wins over some sedans.
All-round visibility is quite good, with a divided A-pillar, massive front windscreen, wide-sweeping wipers and large mirrors. There is also the benefit of the high, see-all driving position that many women and men prefer so as to avoid possible accidents a few cars in front, however I am not a firm believer in this theory. The Estima is exceptionally well built with a quality feel all round inside and outside. Trim fabrics are high quality, panel margins are tight, paint quality is excellent and overall and you get the feeling this is a vehicle will last forever. Look at the number of first generation Estima’s (now selling for between RM20,000 to RM25,000) still running around with trim and fittings still intact. Prices seem to take a very gradual fall unlike some other vehicles.
The biggest drawback is its relatively high purchase price of between RM110,000 to RM140,000 for a 5-6 year old unit. 8-year old units sell for RM70,000 to RM90,000 for the much sought after Estima G-pack version which is fully loaded with all the Toyota electronic goodies. However, Toyota’s reputation for excellent retained values means that the Estima will depreciate more slowly than its competitors and offers unrivalled comfort and prestige.