Toyota has some claim to having created the people-mover and certainly invented the term. The original 1983 Tarago was a van-based eight-seater, but the 1990 model was a clean sheet design with seemingly no expense spared at a time when Toyota was cashed-up and ready to show the world its abilities. With a specially designed mid-mounted engine, radical design and outstanding dynamics this second generation Tarago set a new benchmark. The third (2000) and fourth (2006) generation models are more conservatively engineered with their front-mounted engines and front-drive configuration. The introduction of V6 models in 2007 brought a new level of performance and refinement.
2010 Toyota Tarago Overview
Car Showroom’s Ultima test vehicle immediately impressed with its plushness and sheer space. This is a business or even first-class MPV travelling experience with none of the compromises of economy. Toyota has an excellent satellite navigation system, which is itself easy to navigate. Seventeen-inch alloys are standard, as are dual sunroofs, adaptive (they peer around corners as the steering wheel is turned) high intensity discharge headlights and heated front seats.
The sliding side doors are electrically operated, like the fold-into-the-floor third row seat. The safety package includes an elaborate vehicle stability control system and seven airbags. Surprisingly, there is no trip computer. The faux woodgrain trim may never have come within coo-ee to a tree but is of high quality and makes a good pretence of being genuine. But arguably the greatest feature of all is the sense of huge space.
2010 Toyota Tarago Engine
Like all Toyota engines the 3.5-litre V6 is a smooth and responsive unit. Frankly, it is what the Tarago has long needed, the four-clinder units having to work very hard under a heavy load of occupants and kit. It delivers a generous 202 kW of power and, more importantly for the MPV application, 340 Nm of torque.
The V6 teams with a seamless six-speed automatic and the now fashionable ‘tiptronic’ shift option. Overall fuel consumption is rated at 10.3 litres per 100 kilometres and carbon emissions are 243 g/km. The Tarago is an effortless rather than high performer and cruises with very low noise levels.
2010 Toyota Tarago Interior
Following the air travel model, space is luxury but this is also very attractive and comfortable space for seven people (as long as those in the rearmost row are children). The test Ultima’s two-tone taupe and ivory fascia, ivory leather trim, tricky Lexus style ‘Optitron’ instrument lighting together with the general feeling of airiness and outstanding all-round vision make this one of the best MPV travelling experiences available.
The second row captain’s chairs with their so-called ottomans (these being generous footrests of the kind you find on armchairs) fold almost flat but in the reclined position they are not suited to tall people, although young children will think they are in seventh heaven.
The way the third row seat buries itself at the push of a button into the floor is quite a selling point. With sliding doors on both sides and plenty of legroom, a flat floor, as well as a plethora of cup holders, rear headphones and stowage compartments, the Tarago governs for all occupants!
2010 Toyota Tarago Exterior & Styling
The Tarago has edgier and more integrated styling than many Toyota sedans. It looks contemporary and balanced, as well as highly aerodynamic. Deep glass areas suit the MPV concept and help to make the Tarago look more compact than it is. You can see the DNA of its illustrious 1990 forebear.
The 17-inch alloy wheels add just enough of a sporty touch, but you would never confuse this tall vehicle with, say, one of the European sports wagons. Traditionally, people movers are seen as lacking in charisma and desirability but the current Tarago (like the 1990 model) goes a long way to overcoming the stigma.
2010 Toyota Tarago On The Road
The electric power steering is accurate but too light to please keen drivers. Hard acceleration does reveal a measure of the torque steer that afflicts all front-wheel drive vehicles, but it is never irritating. Ride comfort is suitably plush and well controlled (meaning motion sickness shouldn’t be an issue) but the handling is not unduly compromised in the process and the hefty Tarago actually corners quite well.
In summary, while this is not a driver’s car but there is little to detract from the job of devouring kilometres with a full complement of passengers: the Tarago does its job in high style.
2010 Toyota Tarago Challenges
The lack of a trip computer is a surprise on such a well-equipped vehicle. It’s a pity Toyota Australia’s engineers were not allowed to recalibrate the electric power steering as they did on the Camry Hybrid.
2010 Toyota Tarago Verdict
Some $75K on the road may seem expensive but you really get a great deal of formidable MPV for your money. The Tarago Ultima is a true luxury car, regardless of the dowdy reputation afflicting this market segment.
2010 Toyota Tarago Competition
The Tarago’s strongest completion comes from the less expensive Kia Carnival and Hyundai iMax, which suggests the Koreans are definitely coming in this category. Also be sure to have the Honda Odessy on the shopping list.
Significantly, many Tarago customers never check out another vehicle and often they trade out of an earlier model, so brand loyalty is high.
2010 Toyota Tarago Likes:
Beautifully appointed and styled interior, magnificent quality
2010 Toyota Tarago Dislikes:
Electric power steering too light