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The Toyota Previa Is the Supercar of Minivans

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author photo by Will Kinton September 2016

Midengine, all-wheel drive and a supercharger: That seems like a recipe for a pretty awesome supercar, but the only vehicle ever built by an established automaker with these specifications was actually a minivan, the Toyota Previa. Sure, Lamborghinis have offered midengine, all-wheel-drive cars, and the Ford GT was fitted with a midengine, supercharged V8, but no manufacturer has created a midengine supercharged, all-wheel-drive vehicle ... except Toyota. In case you're wondering, the engine is in the front -- but it's so far back that it's between the axles, technically rendering it a midengine vehicle.

The Toyota Previa was first introduced to the U.S. in 1990 as a replacement for the creatively named Toyota Van, and it was meant to be a serious competitor to the all-dominant Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan. When it first hit American shores, the Previa was offered with a 135-horsepower 4-cylinder, which was mated to either a 5-speed manual transmission or a 4-speed automatic. Rear-wheel drive was standard, but an all-wheel-drive system was optional.

The Previa's midengine setup had both positive and negative benefits compared to the Chrysler vans, with the primary benefit being increased cabin space for passengers and cargo. On the other hand, the midengine design limited the size of the engine, which proved to be a major problem for American consumers. So Toyota fixed the problem: In 1994, they added a Roots supercharger, which gave the Previa a power increase of 23 hp, pushing it up to 158 hp. That's right: The world's only midengine, supercharged, all-wheel-drive vehicle had ... 158 hp. Unfortunately, the addition of the supercharger coincided with the removal of rear-wheel drive and the manual transmission.

The Previa may not have had the power of the Chrysler vans, but it did have Toyota's usual stellar reliability. Previas have been known for going hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of miles with appropriate maintenance -- and even though Toyota replaced the egg-shaped Previa with the Sienna in 1997, it's still not uncommon to see these weird little vans driving around today.

Currently, there are only 10 Toyota Previa models for sale across the entire U.S. on Autotrader, with an average price of $2,568. These vehicles all have between 144,000 and 409,000 (!) miles.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
The Toyota Previa Is the Supercar of Minivans - Autotrader