Toyota Tarago is a combination of two versions of vans produced by Toyota, namely Toyota TownAce and Toyota Previa. Certain models from these ranges of people movers are known as the Toyota Tarago in Australia. Production and export started in the ‘70s, but it was not until 1983 that they began selling in Australia. Later, a light commercial van known as H300 Granvia replaced these vans.
Some models of the TownAce/LiteAce also reached the Aussie market as utes, vans, wagons, and people movers under their original nameplate.
Toyota TownAce, based initially on the LiteAce, started production in 1976, while the Toyota Previa, also known as Toyota Estima, rolled out of production lines in 1990. The TownAce is a light commercial vehicle with pickup/ute, wagon, and van body styles, while the Previa is a minivan.
There’s no way to talk about the TownAce without going back to its LiteAce history. The LiteAce starts with the M-series, while the TownAce with the R-series. Several years later, one rebadged the other and vice versa until the two series were unified. You may refer to our other article for the Toyota LiteAce/TownAce range.
Toyota developed LiteAce under Toyota Auto Body, releasing the first generation in November 1970. It filled the void between the larger HiAce and the smaller MiniAce.
These second-generation models were released in Japan in October 1979 as LiteAce wagons. Toyota exported them to Australia in 1980 as LiteAce wagons and utes and as people movers in 1982.
This generation had four roof variations, namely, Standard, High, High with a panoramic moonroof, and High Roof for a grade of SW. It arrived in the country in 1985 as M30/M40 LiteAce commercial wagons, vans, and people movers. The chassis codes M50-M80 were for LiteAce utes and their TownAce rebadges, which were both marketed in other markets.
1976-1982 (R10, TownAce)
The first few vans from this series rolled out from production with the same doors that the M-series had. The series went through a couple of facelifts. The first one happened in 1980 with the headlights changed to rectangular, plastic bumpers added, and some suspension refinements made. It also had an icebox and a moonroof that was electrically-retractable.
1982-1992 (R20/R30, Tarago)
The series went through some cosmetic changes in 1982. Many of the mechanicals were based on the Toyota Hilux. The front was sloped sharply with different roof heights available. It reached Aussie shores in 1983, the first TownAce to do so, but under the Toyota Tarago nameplate, derived from the name of a town in New South Wales. The Tarago is an 8-seat people mover, introduced in the country with the following trim levels:
- DX, Base model – 2 doors/8 seats; 1974cc 2C inline-4 diesel engine (49 kW, 118 Nm) paired with a 5-speed manual gearbox
- GL - 2 doors/8 seats; 1812cc 2Y-C inline-4 petrol engine (55 kW, 134 Nm) paired with a 5-speed manual gearbox
- GLS, Luxury model - 2 doors/8 seats; 1812cc 2Y-C inline-4 petrol engine (55 kW, 134 Nm) paired with a 4-speed automatic or 5-speed manual gearbox
They were identical with the TownAce and featured the same including the slim bumpers and single-unit headlights. The five-speed manual gearbox was standard, with a 4-speed auto transmission optioned for the GLS trim. The GLS featured alloy wheels, cruise control, dual-zone air-conditioning, a moonroof, power steering, and power windows.
In 1984, the 1.8L petrol engines were upgraded to 2.0L 3Y-C (65kW, 162 Nm). The DX and GL trims could now be had with the 3-speed auto transmission (optional). In the next releases, the GL became the GX. Aside from this, additional trims were on offer in 1985, viz.:
- GX – 2.0L 3Y-C petrol engine (65 kW, 162 Nm) mated to a 4-speed automatic transmission
- GLi – 2.2L 4Y-E petrol engine (75 kW, 184 Nm) available with a 5-speed manual gearbox only; featured alloy wheels, cruise control, central locking, radio cassette, and a sunroof
The GLS also received the newly updated petrol engine, the 2.2L 4Y-E (75 kW, 184 Nm) but offered with a 4-speed automatic. Its seating capacity reduced from eight to seven due to individual seats replacing the bench-type seat. By 1988, Toyota added the following on the existing Tarago offers:
- RV - 2.2L 4Y-E petrol engine (75 kW, 184 Nm) available with a 5-speed manual gearbox only; featured power steering
- GLi Xtra Trak 4x4 - 2.2L 4Y-E petrol engine (75 kW, 184 Nm) available with a 5-speed manual gearbox only; featured central locking, limited-slip differential, power steering, and a radio cassette
All 3-speed automatic transmissions in the previous years were now replaced by a 4-speed automatic.
In 1990, Toyota continued to produce the LiteAce and TownAce for most of its global markets. The Australian buyers continued to access the LiteAce range until 1992, after which TownAce replaced it. You will find the rest of the series in our Toyota LiteAce/TownAce article
The Tarago, on the other hand, took on the first-generation Toyota Previa as its new base. With this change, it also enters a new class, that of a multipurpose vehicle or MPV. Its functions remain the same, a people mover with seven or eight-passenger capacity.
‘Wombat’ is the nickname for the Previa-based Tarago in Australia due to its funny resemblance to the country’s native marsupial.
First Gen (XR10/XR20, 1990-1999)
Brought to life by a Toyota-based designer and a Calty-based designer, the first generation came out in January 1990. The previous trim levels were carried forward and were now available in 4-speed automatic aside from the manual-only offer before, except for the RV, which remained manual.
Previa’s 2.4L 2TZ-FE petrol engine powered the Previa-based Tarago. The RWD RV and GLS gained a 4x4 variant. The vans now had three doors, instead of two. Toyota introduced new trims with the following specs:
- GLX – 2.4L 2TZ-FE inline-4 petrol engine (103 kW, 208 Nm), coupled to a 4-speed automatic; featured alloy wheels, central locking, power steering/windows, radio cassette with six speakers
- RV 4x4 – 2.4L 2TZ-FE inline-4 petrol engine (103 kW, 208 Nm), coupled to a 5-speed manual; featured central locking, power steering, and radio cassette
- GLS 4x4 – 2.4L 2TZ-FE inline-4 petrol engine (103 kW, 208 Nm), coupled to a 4-speed automatic; featured ABS, alloy wheels, central locking, power steering/windows, and radio cassette
By 1991, the GLi also received the upgraded 2.4L petrol engine paired with either a 4-speed automatic or 5-speed manual.
Special Edition variants were also released, with the following trim levels:
- Rugby World Cup edition – same 2.4L engine and available in both manual and automatic; featured central locking, CD player, power steering, radio cassette with six speakers
- Getaway – same 2.4L engine paired with a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic; featured central locking, power mirrors/steering, radio cassette with six speakers
- Advantage - same 2.4L engine and available in both automatic and manual; featured CD player, central locking, power steering, radio cassette with six speakers
Between in 1993 and 1994, there were changes to the names of the trim levels. The Getaway became a regular trim and now named Getaway II, while the range-topping GLS became Ultima, all powered by the 2.4L petrol engine. The Getaway II was available in both manual and automatic, while the Ultima was automatic-only.
Second Gen (2000-2005)
This generation was produced with both sliding doors for rear passengers. The models sold on the European markets were readily available in diesel and petrol engines. Australian models (aka ACR30R), however, were only available with the 2.4L engine (petrol) and 4-speed automatic. So for the second generation, the Tarago had a streamlined range now including only four trims, all powered by the new 2.4L 2AZ-FE inline-4 petrol engine (115 kW, 221 Nm) and available only in 4-speed automatic transmission. They also now have four doors.
- GLi, Base – features dual front airbags, dual-zone air-conditioning, adjustable steering wheel (tilt/telescopic), central locking RC, engine immobilizer, power mirrors/steering/front windows, radio cassette with six speakers, seatbelt with pretensioners (front)
- GLX – adds to the base ABS, alloy wheels, cruise control, CD player, power sunroof, and power windows
- Ultima – sits only seven; adds to the GLX trim a CD player with 6-CD stacker, EBD, and Sat Nav
Third Gen (2006-2019)
The third-generation Tarago utilized an uprated 2.4L 2AZ-FE engine. To make it more competitive with its market rivals like the Kia Carnival, Toyota offered a V6 engine for the Tarago range. Here are the new trim levels:
- GLi, Base - 2.4L 2AZ-FE inline-4 petrol engine, 4-speed automatic transmission (125 kW, 224 Nm); featured similar equipment to the previous generation but now included as standard ABS, cruise control, cloth trim, front fog lights, power windows (all), radio CD with six speakers, and a rear spoiler
- GLi V6 - 3.5L 2GR-FE V6 petrol engine, 6-speed automatic transmission (202 kW, 340 Nm); adds brake assist, EBD, head and side front airbags, traction control, and vehicle stability to the base model
- GLX – same powertrain as the GLi but adds dual A/C, 17-inch alloy wheels, CD player with 6-CD stacker, side front airbags, TCS, VSC
- GLX V6 – same V6 powertrain; adds rear A/C, 17-inch alloy wheels, brake assist, EBD, head and side-front airbags, leather steering wheel, power front seat, roof racks, TCS, and VSC (driver)
- Ultima V6 – same V6 powertrain; adds power sliding doors, power sunroof, Sat Nav, and Xenon headlights
The Tarago received several updates, one in 2009 and another in 2012. In 2016, the Tarago went through another facelift, which updated its interior. The facelift added to its standard equipment to enable it to compete with its rivals. It now has a multifunctional steering wheel and a restyled center console with a large touchscreen infotainment display. The 2.4L engine also now comes with a CVT, replacing the 4-speed automatic transmission that it had for quite a while.
If you need replacement parts for your Tarago or other cars, please feel free to browse our website. We have thousands of sellers from all over Australia, which increases your chance of finding the specific auto part you need. You might even find a seller near you!