What you see here is the Toyota Estima Hybrid minivan. It has a great combination of features, and it’s probably about as practical and environmentally friendly a ride as Toyota can make (which is saying a lot right there). There’s just one problem. Toyota isn’t selling it in America. The Toyota Estima Hybrid Minivan has just gone on sale in Malaysia. I read about it on Paul Tan’s great blog about being a car guy in Malaysia (do you see how far and wide I search to get you people this info?), and I got to say I’m bewildered that Toyota hasn’t brought it here yet.
Sure, I can imagine one reason why not: A lot of Americans are stupid enough to actually believe that they actually need an SUV to drive kids to band practice and get groceries. But if Toyota was smart, they could market around that sad misconception.
The Toyota Estima Hybrid Minivan (they just call it a van in Malaysia, since it doesn’t seem they have a concept of mini versus full size vans) pictured here is actually the second generation of the Estima Hybrid. This model features Toyota’s THS-II hybrid system which is based on a 2.4 liter gasoline engine mated to electric motors that is quite similar to the same system found in the Lexus HS250h or the Camry Hybrid. The biggest difference is that in addition to the EV drive motor up front, there’s also one driving the rear wheels as well, effectively turning the Toyota Estima Hybrid Minivan into an all-wheel drive vehicle. Now the Toyota Estima Hybrid Minivan just became even more practical for those living in snow-bound areas.
And the ICE mill isn’t run of the mill either. It’s a 2.4 liter Atkinson cycle engine that produces 150 PS and 190 Nm of torque. The front electric motor puts out 105 PS and 270 Nm of torque and the rear motor puts out less power and grunt at 50 PS and 130 Nm.
No, it’s not a screamer, performance-wise. 0 to 100 km/h comes up in 10.8 seconds. The fuel economy is pretty good for a big heavy box though. In the 10-15 Japanese test cycle, the Estima Hybrid can achieve 20 km per liter.
Another nifty feature is an exhaust heat recovery system that recovers thermal energy from the exhaust that would be wasted and uses it to heat engine coolant. The engine warm-up time is substantially reduced, and also makes it even more usable in places like North Dakota.
Toyota, you’re the number one car maker in the world, and far be it for me to tell you how to run your business, but really, why aren’t you selling this ride over here?
Source: Paul Tan