1 Sep 1990
Here is where the true revolution in people carriers began.
Toyota spent a fortune developing the US-designed, egg-shaped second generation model, and it quickly became a symbol of the ambitious, cash-rich environment prevailing in Japan at a time just prior to a decade-long recession.
It’s no coincidence then that this car enjoyed a decade-long run virtually unaltered. And car is the operative word.
Banishing any commercial vehicle commonality, everything about the Tarago II was not only all new, but also often devised exclusively for it.
Like its mid-engine rear-drive platform, with its 625mm-extended wheelbase, wider track and bespoke motor cantered low and away behind the driver for much-improved handling, stability, braking and refinement properties.
This led to a single sliding-side door aerodynamic body that boasted far-more efficient packaging, liberating space for passengers and their luggage alike. It also brought with it a radical new dashboard design, a walk-through cabin and intelligent interior storage solutions.
And mechanically it was just as radical. The 102kW/208Nm 2.4-litre 2TZ-FE twin-cam 16-valve fuel-injected four-cylinder engine was made especially compact for this application, as was the standard five-speed manual or space-saving column-shift four-speed automatic gearbox.
It also produced its maximum torque from 1200rpm for better big load driveability. An expensive and sophisticated fully independent double wishbone rear suspension was available on the high-end GLX and GLS models, the latter also featuring a full-time 4WD system and anti-lock brakes.
The mid-range RV (also with 4WD) and base GLi made do with a cheaper five-link coil rear suspension.
All variants featured power steering, central locking and a radio/cassette player. The rear-drive (TCR10/11) GLi and GLX seated eight, the 4WD (TCR20/21) RV and GLS seven.
But high prices in recessional times saw Tarago sales suffer despite its quantum leap forward, so Toyota periodically tweaked the range.
In late ’91 a round of changes saw improved manual gearbox gearing, audio, cabin lighting and storage areas, a new grille and cabin trim and the deletion of the sluggish-selling RV model.
The popular Getaway series (usually with central locking, power windows and electric mirrors) first appeared in October ’92 and then April ’93, before it was made a permanent addition to the Tarago range as the Getaway II when the range was lightly facelifted in September ’94.