Weirder than the subaru svx and supercharged to boot: the toyota previa

The bold new 2021 Toyota Sienna, with its ultra-modern Japanese bullet train-inspired styling, hybrid powertrain and optional all-wheel drive sầu may seem wild by minivan standards. But it"s hardly is the weirdest van Toyota has ever sold. Piông xã through the brand"s minivan history, & most of what you"ll find is boring (including most every Sienna ever made), but there"s one van that really sticks out, loaded with exotic engineering & wild styling. If you"d never heard of a Toyota Previa before (và maybe you haven"t, which is totally cool), and someone described its configuration and features to you, you might think they"re pranking you.

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Why? Well, the 1991-1997 Previa happened to lớn be a mid-engined vehicle. And not a front-mid configuration, where the engine is up front but just behind the front axle. No, the Previa"s engine is smachồng dab in the middle of its chassis, laid over on its side, with the transmission behind it. The bare chassis looks like something you"d find in an exotic rally car, with stubby driveshafts going fore và aft khổng lồ both axles (for the all-wheel drive versions). It didn"t necessarily persize like a Group B rally car, to be clear, but more on that later.


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Crazy layout not enough for you? The later Previas were also supercharged. And even the supercharger was strange. Like the later first-generation MR2s, the Aisin blower in the Previa S/C had an electromagnetic clutch, lượt thích the one you"d find on an air conditioning compressor. When the engine management system decided the Previa needed a kiông chồng in the egg, it"d sover a signal to lớn the clutch, which would engage and provide some mild boost. All told, the Previa S/C (supercharged) was good for 161 horsepower and 204 pound-feet of torque.


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But the supercharger isn"t bolted onto lớn the engine itself, as is typical. None of the accessories are, either—also atypical. They huddle together under the small hood at the front of the oto, powered by a belt spun by a driveshaft from the engine. Toyota called this system—& we can"t make this up—the Supplemental Accessory Driveshaft, or "SAD." We"re assuming that describes how you"d feel if you had to lớn extract any of the tightly-packed components from the tiny compartment for replacement. On the other hvà, despite the complexity involved—AllTrac all-wheel-drive sầu models had two longitudinal forward driveshafts, after all—it helped with weight distribution and, khổng lồ some degree, maintenance access. Better than dropping the entire engine out of the center of the vehicle khổng lồ replace ancillaries, right?


The Previa was briefly available with a manual transmission, too, although the manual option went away the same time the supercharger was introduced. But the manual could be paired with Toyota"s AllTrac all-wheel drive sầu system. So too could the later S/C models. Non-AllTrac models sent power to lớn the rear wheels via a solid rear axle.

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We haven"t even gotten to lớn the egg-shaped styling or the Star Trek: The Next Generation shuttlecraft interior. These were the things that people were concerned about at the time, since all the crazy engineering was hidden under the skin. And also, who was the target audience for this minivan, anyway? We have sầu to lớn think that the engineering charms of the Previa were mostly lost on people just looking for a reliable family hauler.


And that explains why the Previa"s 1998 Sienna replacement was much, much more conservative. Based on the Camry, the original Sienna was was still vaguely egg-shaped, but all the "cool" stuff was gone. Instead, there was a V-6 with good power & torque (no clutched supercharger needed!), something the Previa couldn"t fit underneath. It was efficient, and we have to lớn assume it was also much cheaper to lớn build, rolling out of the Georgetown, Kentucky plant here in the good ol" U.S. of A. From there, the Sienna evolved và grew.


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While the newest Sienna doesn"t tóm tắt any of its layout or (thankfully) styling with the Previa of yore, it does bring a new tech-forward attitude to lớn the segment. The Chrysler Pacifica is the only other hybrid van on the market, albeit a plug-in hybrid. And the new Sienmãng cầu really commits, with no non-hybrid option available. However, all-wheel drive sầu is available, just like on the Previa, although there"s no driveshaft involved—it"s electric.

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We don"t think a vehicle like the Previa will roll around again, but that"s probably a good thing. Instead of being a curiosity, the new Sienna is a functional, efficient, and dare we say sharper van than the Previa ever aspired to be.


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