Toyota is totally committed to hybrid technologies and has started to implement it on various models. One of the is the Estima Hybrid, which is one of the biggest and most practical hybrids that can be found on today’s roads.

The vehicle is based on Toyota’s Estima model that was designed from the ground up as a family car, offering plenty of cabin space and generous boot volume. Fortunately, the interior space offered by the Hybrid version is almost the same as the petrol-based model, so the Estima Hybrid continues to be an ideal family car, being able to accommodate up to seven passengers.

Toyota introduced the first Estima Hybrid in 2001, as the world’s first hybrid minivan with the first use of the E-Four (electric four-wheel-drive) system on a mass-production vehicle. The Estima Hybrid uses Toyota’s THS II system, especially optimized for use on a minivan. Unfortunately the Toyota Estima Hybrid is available solely on the Japanese market.

Hit the jump for more information on the Toyota Estima Hybrid.

  • 2006 Toyota Estima Hybrid
  • Year:
    2006
  • Make:
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    147 @ 5500
  • Torque @ RPM:
    140 @ 4000
  • Top Speed:
    115 mph
  • car segment:
  • car fuel:
  • body style:

Design

2006 Toyota Estima Hybrid High Resolution Exterior
- image 477861

The Toyota Estima Hybrid is basically a van fitted with 7 seats. Luckily, Toyota managed to disguise its bulky proportions and designed a pretty attractive body. Every line of the body maximizes the general dynamic effect and we especially like the front end design. Here we find a heavily sloped bonnet which is angled almost at the same angle as the windscreen.

The sharp shape of the front is further accentuated by the elongated headlights which cut deep in the side body panels, forming a dynamic pattern which gives the vehicle a futuristic look. The front lights are united by a thick chromed bar which also forms the top of the grille.

The front bumper is seamlessly integrated into the front fascia and it’s fitted with twin air intakes and a pair of small fog lamps.

The side view looks pretty good as well, thanks to the blacked out pillars and the lateral creases sculpted along the body panels. The dynamic design continues out back were we find a set of elongated taillights combined with a pretty high waistline.

Interior

2006 Toyota Estima Hybrid High Resolution Interior
- image 477858

The modern design language continues inside, were you are greeted by a futuristic dashboard with the instrument panel mounted centrally. Under the wide instrument panel it’s mounted a big LCD with two air vents placed at its bottom. Lower, you’ll find a dash mounted gear knob together with a set of easy to reach controls.

Every button and switch had a pretty solid build quality, while most of the materials and plastics were also part of the first class.

Needless to say that the cabin feels fairly roomy, as you are surrounded by acres of space with enough head and leg-room for both front and second row of seats. The third row of seats however is a bit cramped and it’s better to leave it only for kids.

The driver seat is deep and supportive offering a pretty comfortable driving position, but the three spoke steering wheel is a bit too thin for our tastes and it’s also a bit bigger than expected.

Engines and performance

2006 Toyota Estima Hybrid High Resolution Exterior
- image 477863

The Toyota Estima is powered by a 2.4 liter gasoline engine which is combined with either one or two electric motors (105 kW in the front and 50 KW in the back), depending on the configuration.

The petrol engine delivers 147 hp of power and 190 Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm while the front motor offers 105 kW peak output and is coupled with a speed reduction gear to amplify torque up to 270 Nm.

The 50 Kw/130 Nm rear E-Four motor assists both the engine and front motor and controls the power delivery between front and rear axles.

Within the center console it’s mounted a 245V NiMH battery pack used to store electric energy.

The entire hybrid system offers an average fuel consumption of 5.0 liter/100 km which is pretty good for a 7-seater.

The vehicle it’s also equipped with an exhaust heat recovery system that it’s used to recover thermal energy from the exhaust and use it to heat engine coolant.

This system improves the fuel consumption by reducing engine warm-up time, which enables it to shut off earlier when idling.

Like the Prius, the Estima Hybrid is able to run solely on electric energy, by simply selecting the EV Drive Mode. The full electric mode it’s also used to drive the car at low speeds or in heavy traffic. If the electric batteries remain without juice, the vehicle is switching automatically to the petrol engine mode helping you to continue the trip without interruption.

Unfortunately, the car feels pretty heavy while driving, and the acceleration is a bit sluggish too. At least cornering control and body stability are well kept in check while the ride quality it’s also on the plush side of things.

Verdict

2006 Toyota Estima Hybrid High Resolution Exterior
- image 477864

The Toyota Estima Hybrid it’s a spacious and practical family car. The hybrid system works without hesitation and delivers decent fuel efficiency. Though, the acceleration is pretty weak while the on road performances leave much to be desired.

Overall however, the Estima is a good, reliable and efficient vehicle and more importantly, it was the first commercially available all wheel drive MPV, so it’s considered by many a milestone in the history of hybrid technologies.

What do you think?
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