So I downloaded a factory brochure for my car and this image came up in the back and it occurred to me. 1997 was a great year for Toyota in general. Granted there were some losers in the lot but 1997 had 13 cars and trucks and 7 of them were either industry leaders, industry firsts or just generally beloved Jalop cars to this day.

Good Car include:

Previa - AWD mid engine turbo 4 minivan from space

Celica - good looks, decent engines, decent handling. Not the WRX killer that the rest of the world got as the GT-Four, but a great car.

Supra - Nothing more needs to be said here

Rav4 - For better or worse, this was the first true crossover and started the craze. It also happened to be a hellava lot of fun to drive. Manual transmissions and torsen LSD in a crossover? you bet.

4Runner - The best looking generation IMHO (though Im still fond of gen1) and the first to have a real engine in the 5VZ-FE 3.4 liter. Still considered the most reliable modern v6 Toyota ever made.


Land Cruiser - Last year of the kick ass FZJ80 with solid axles, locking front, center and rear diff options and the indestructible 1FZ-FE engine. Considered one the best expedition vehicles in the world and generally regarded as the most reliable truck ever made. Over engineered and overbuilt. These routinely last for 300-500k miles with basic care.

Tacoma - A handsome generation with the 5VZ-FE

Bad cars included:

Tercel - Toyota doesn't want to us to remember this name, lets oblige.

Corolla - to be fair, it was the best of the bread back then or at least not the bottom, too bad it hasn't really changed much since.


Camry - this is debatable since you could spec it out to be a lot of fun and had decent engines...but the suspension and interiors bring it down to this list

Paseo - boy was it ever.

T100 - About as fair a fight in the pickup world as homer fighting Drederick Tatum.


So the Question...Has there been a better year for Toyota? Does the Blah of today's huge lineup balance out with a few shining examples? Was there a year in the past where the excellence quotient was higher?

Granted Scion didn't exist in 1997 so I would be inclined to include Scion in this debate (no Lexus though)