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2006 - 2016 Toyota Estima Australia: V6 or 2.4L engine?

by Brett Phillips

So, should I get a Toyota Estima V6 or 2,4L engine – that’s the biggest decision, right?
And ultimately, it all comes down to a choice between power and fuel economy, doesn’t it?

Toyota Estima

Hold up right there!

We have some super important info that has been all-too-often overlooked or dare we even say, purposely concealed by some!

1. What’s the problem with 2.4L Estimas?

You see, for the last 10 years or so, our beloved, brilliant Toyota Estima has held its position as numero uno in family car imports from Japan to Australia.

Many wanting to join this large, but exclusive club feel that the big question is " shall I stick to smooth and powerful V6 or go with 2.4L for fuel economy? "

It’s time for the import market to come clean. The fact is, that choice is often not even an option. So, before you start tossing and turning at night, trying to balance all the pros and cons, you need to know these facts:

The 2.4L Toyota Estima (ACR50/55) is NOT ELIGIBLE for import into Australia unless it’s fitted with a disability ramp or disability chair.

WHAT?! Says who?

But my friend has one!

I saw one in Freddie Goldtooth’s car lot just yesterday!

Well, this is a painful myth that is easy to bust. The simple fact is, 2.4L Estima CAN be imported, but not as the general 7- or 8-seater family car you’ve been dreaming of, UNLESS it is fitted with those aforementioned disability features – i.e. a WELCAB import.

WELCAB import

2. The hard truth

There is an official reason for this restriction. Whether we all agree or not, this is how our beloved government protects the business interests of franchise new car dealerships, such as Kia, Honda, Hyundai etc.

As you’re probably aware, the people mover or MPV niche is extremely overcrowded in our country (just go to your local netball comp on Saturday for conclusive proof) and mass importation of inexpensive 2.4L Estima would potentially do a lot of damage to these local markets. (Or you could argue it would create better competition, but hey, rules are rules, right?)


3. The bleeding obvious

I hear your next objection:

“How come there are a lot more 2.4L Estimas advertised online than V6? Are they all disability vehicles?”

Simply put, No. They are not. 😐

Yet, they have been imported into Australia as disability vehicles.

Now go back to your friend’s 2.4L Estima, or go back to Freddie Goldtooth’s car yard, open the front passenger door and check the pink compliance plate located on the B pillar.

What does it say? It says “TOYOTA ESTIMA WELCAB”.


4. WELCAB? Well, so what?

This means that this 2.4L Toyota Estima ACR50 or 55 (AWD) has not only been imported as a WELCAB disability vehicle, but it will also be registered in your state as a WELCAB vehicle.

Once registered, the rego papers will also indicate this is a WELCAB vehicle – it’s all on the compliance plate. There is no way to get around this simple fact.

While that may be just a technicality; a meaningless word, will it ever be an issue in the future?

We’re not here to dwell on legal ramifications or consequences of you buying a non-disability vehicle under the guise of disability. The fact is, it may never be an issue. Or it may. Who knows?

Though, imagine for a moment that you decide to move interstate. Different states have different roadworthiness criteria, and states such as Tasmania have notoriously painful criteria that will have you tearing your hair out in order to get your vehicle over that PASS line.

Insurance may or may not also cause future nightmares, should you find yourself in an unfortunate accident and attempting to claim insurance on a vehicle that isn’t physically exactly what it’s registered to be.

And once you do convince yourself it’ll be fine, should you want to offload the vehicle down the track and upgrade to the next dream car, potential purchasers may baulk at your mis-identified vehicle for all these very same reasons.


5. Freddie Goldtooth and his buddies

Perhaps the next most common question we hear is “why are import dealers doing this?”

Well, it’s a business risk they are willing to take. They’re seeing a lot of demand on the market and are willing to take the risk for a slice of the pie.

So far, there has been little attempt to crackdown on those abusing this loophole, but that could always change at any moment.

It’s very tempting! We know that the 2.4L Toyota Estima is a functional and affordable vehicle. In Japan, it is considered economy class and is considerably cheaper than its V6 sibling.

And yes, a smaller engine often means better fuel economy (unless you often drive with heavy load and/or have serpentine roads).

That could possibly be the main reason a lot of Aussie customers are attracted to the idea of buying a cheaper 4-cylinder Estima and then saving on the weekly fuel bill.

However, engine size can often create a performance limitation under certain circumstances and driving conditions, thus greatly narrowing the difference between 2.4L and V6 fuel economy.

Toyota Estima fuel consumption

For a fun and informative look at Toyota Estima fuel consumption, and whether it needs to play such a crucial role in the purchasing decision, check out our recent blog post on that topic: >> Toyota Estima fuel consumption and who even gives a rats


6. Is Best People Movers able to sell me a WELCAB 2.4L Toyota Estima?

The short answer is ‘Yes’.

BUT, we don’t routinely stock WELCAB vehicles. These are special order vehicles, and we would only import a true WELCAB vehicle that complies with the Australian Government import laws – i.e. it would be fitted with either a disability ramp in the tailgate, or a disability chair from the passenger door.

Are you genuinely looking for one of these vehicles, give us a call!

If you’re looking to be covert and risk owning an illegal import, give a couple of our notorious competitors a call 😜


P.S. Want to know more? Feel free to Join my email list to stay connected + be in the know which vehicles are coming and which ones are going, which models are hot, and which are not and what’s happening in our import industry.

Here’s what else you’ll get in my weekly emails:

  • How to read auction reports and verify mileage with real life examples
  • Differences between the models
  • Why 7 seats may be preferrable than 8
  • What to expect from the new import law (from 1st of April 2023) and how it’s going to affect us.

Your JDM addict