Published on February 9th, 2021 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Toyota Estima 2.4 VVTi Used MPV Review
This 2001 Toyota Estima family vehicle is priced to make sense right now.
This third-generation Toyota Estima arrived at a time when Malaysians were wanting a large well appointed MPV that delivered excellent comfort for 6 to 7 persons (8 persons with the rear bench seats), had an abundance of space and its drive was much like a luxury sedan.
Despite being more expensive than the local assembled rivals at the time like the Nissan Serena Highway Star and the larger Naza Ria this Toyota Estima clearly dominated the Malaysian luxury MPV segment with features and looks. Just look at the number of units you still see running on our roads.
Powering this multi-purpose vehicle (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 very competent. Mated to a gearbox that shifts quickly, smoothly and is quite intelligent. There is also a 3-liter version however we feel that a 2.4 liter is more than sufficient especially with current rising fuel prices and harsher economic times.
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 unless this vehicle has had a bad accident.
MPV’s are bought for their carrying capacity and versatility and this Estima delivers starting at the rearmost row, the 8-seat version offers a reclining bench seat, which can be slid 825mm fore-aft. With the seat fully forward there’s adequate legroom, however if you slide it all the way back there is an abundance of space.
Rear cargo area volume in each extreme varies accordingly, where from just enough to fit a week’s groceries all the way through to 4 suitcases and some for the family holiday. Luggage access is made easy by a low load lip and there’s a 12-volt power socket in the back to power digital devices.
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 this 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 we are not a firm believer in this theory.
The Estima is exceptionally well built with a quality feel all round inside and outside. This is why when looking at used units, even though it is now almost twenty years old, the cabin plastics, dashboard trim, roof lining and carpets should still be in good condition unless abused by previous owner.
There are so many units for sale, so take your time to shop for the right one that suits your needs. Prices range from RM25,000 to RM29,000 for the 2.4L version and the Estima 3.0 version sells for less at between RM23,000 to RM28,000. Between 2019 and 2020 (Covid-19) its prices were almost RM10,000 more. So it is the best time.
What To Look Out For
This Estima’s power doors are not easy and cheap to fix if not working. Check for smooth open and close functions. Under the hood check the plastic water tank and also engine plastic trim for cracks due to age and also in the hands of a careless mechanic.
The 2.4L uses a timing chain and not belt, so check if its noisy which means a replacement is needed. Check the rear A/C controls are working and the blower must be working with flowing cold air. Fixing it will not be cheap.
Check to see all rear seats are moving forward and reverse smoothly. It was a family car for kids, check under the carpet sides for bugs, ants, insects as many families allow their kids to have their snacks and sweet drinks in the car and they never clean up properly.
Once you have bugs, they get into the cars dashboard and problems crop up later. Better look for another unit. This is expensive to clear.
This engine has 156bhp but is should drive smoothly. Sit in the rear 3rd row and be driven, Listen for creaks and noises from the rear bushes and arms. Could cost a bit to replace.
All Estima’s in our market were reconditioned AP imports so, most will be like this unit pictured here. Registered in Japan 2001 and then imported and sold in Malaysia in 2006. Look for private owner’s units like this one and get the owner to share his service record so that you know what wear and tear parts will need to be changed in the coming years.
Also, if it has its original paint, then bonus. Make sure you set aside at least RM3,000 or so for servicing, small repairs, tyre changes and so on after buying your used Estima. After all, it is a 20-year-old vehicle.