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Toyota Estima Fuel consumption, and who even gives a rats?

By guest blogger Brett Phillips

How often does it happen to you that you’re bragging about the wondrous virtues of your sacred automobile, when the inevitable question drops…? What’s the fuel consumption like? As a Toyota Estima enthusiast, people ask me the very same thing (after first asking what the heck is an Estima and why is it speaking Japanese?) … What's the fuel consumption like on your Estima?

Toyota Estima

OK, I can entertain that question as though I really care, but seriously, does that even make the Top 5 in MUST HAVE features when making that all-important decision? Excellent fuel economy?

Granted, it’s kind of important. And for the record, my fuel consumption experience since becoming a Toyota Estima owner has been pleasantly surprising. Coming from a Toyota Tarago 4-cylinder 2.4L engine, and never having owned a 6-cylinder engine before, I was a bit nervous that a 3.5L engine would be a huge shock to the family budget.

But guess what? The difference, in my opinion, is so minimal that when someone asks me “What’s the fuel consumption like?”, what I _REALLY_ want to say is “Who even gives a rats? It’s a dream to drive!”

Since I first went shopping for an upgrade to our old Tarago, and since first seeing that Toyota Estima for sale online (and asking myself “What the heck is an Estima?”), any concerns about fuel consumption took a back seat, so to speak.

Fuel consumption

Let me explain MY criteria:

  1. It’s gotta have guts!
    What’s the point of fuel economy when you need a runup longer than Shoaib Akhtar before attempting to overtake some grandma? Add the fact I live in a pretty hilly part of Australia, so guts are a must.
    Toyota Estima 3.5L 6cyl - PASS!
    Toyota Tarago 2.4L 4cyl - FAIL!
  2. It’s gotta look HOT!
    Well OK, having six kids creates a bit of a speed bump when searching for a “hot” car, but if you join the Toyota Estima Owners Australia group, you’ll see how HOT an Estima can look.
    Toyota Estima - PASS!
    Kia Carnival - FAIL!
  3. It needs to WOW my kids’ friends.
    Kids love robots, technology and gadgets, right? One of the most overused features in our Estima is the electronic door and hatch. My kids insist to their friends “don’t touch the door… I’ve got it!”. No doubt those kids go home and tell their folks that their rich friend has automatic opening and closing car doors.
    Toyota Estima - PASS!
    Most other (affordable) cars - FAIL!
  4. It’s gotta handle nicely.
    I love my ol’ Tarago. I’ve also driven my son’s Hyundai i30 and I also have a classic Lada Niva 1.6L ute. Granted, all of these are probably much cheaper to run, but when jumping between cars (I do that a lot, Jackie Chan style), it’s like comparing Mr Bean to Steve McQueen. I can’t say I’ve owned or driven a nicer car.
    Toyota Estima - PASS!
  5. Safety, safety, safety!
    I have precious cargo, and to be honest, I don’t feel near as safe in my older Tarago. Safety is not just about the number of airbags - though that’s important. It’s also about body integrity and strength, a reliable engine, and having sufficient power and control when it’s required.
    Toyota Estima - PASS!
  6. Finally, it’s absolutely positively GOTTA be top quality.
    Try and tell me Toyota build lemons (well, maybe one or two, but statistically they’re a top-ranking manufacturer, right?) I trust that Toyota engineers invest a lot of skill and expertise getting the ratio right between power and performance - so I’m happy with that ratio in my Estima, and what fuel economy comes out of that.
  7. It needs to be affordable.
    Maybe this should be item 1 on the list, cos before I even look at the other six list items, I need to check my bank account first.
    1. Before we purchased our Estima, we checked out the Tarago equivalents locally. I can say with all honesty, the nearest we could get was close to double what we paid for the Estima. Explain that to me, please!

Toyota Estima Inner Look

Now let’s look at three good reasons why I think the average household also couldn’t give a rats about fuel consumption - or at least rank it very lowly.

  1. Cars are a fashion accessory!
    Yes, they’re a status symbol! They’re a mark of one’s individuality! Sure, there are practical considerations, such as having enough seats for everyone and somewhere to put your latte, but our car is often an extension of our personality.
    Just think of all the styling options available for cars these days, compared to 50 years ago. The Estima itself has soooo many body kits, performance tunings, led lighting bars etc.
    In the Estima Owners Facebook group, half the members want to lower their Estima, some other owners would prefer to raise theirs, and others again just want sexy rims and blue cabin LEDs or a hot pink vinyl wrap.
  2. Bigger is often better.
    How many people do you know (not counting grandma) would prefer to drive a buzz box over a gutsy V6? National car sales confirm my own suspicions. Australian insurer Canstar reports the top selling cars for December 2020 to be a whole bunch of beefy utes, 4WD and SUVs - and only one lightweight sedan.
    Consequently, it’s worth noting that 5 out of 10 of these top-selling vehicles are Toyotas! You can check out the list here:
    https://www.canstarblue.com.au/vehicles/top-selling-cars/
  3. Australia has a very strong economy.
    To put it bluntly, Australians tend to have money to burn, despite our tendency to whinge about how hard life is. The average household income is quite high compared to those in other countries. (source: https://worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/median-income-by-country)
    Even after 2020 - the year of twelve plagues, we seem to be sitting quite comfortably and quickly getting back to our overspending, overborrowing way of living. So, again, fuel consumption is not a huge factor for the average Australian car buyer.

All that said, it’s time to confess. I do kinda care about fuel consumption.

YES, I love my car, I want to pimp my ride and make it look sexy. I want a car that is hot and fast and gutsy while still fitting all my kids in, or even a 2.4 metre kayak (yes, it’s possible with an Estima!).

But at the end of the day, I still need to keep bills in check.

And, while I’m not a stats and figures freak, I did go and do enough reading on the Estima/Previa to satisfy myself (and my lovely wife) that this beast is not a gas guzzler.

Obviously, an engine this size is going to use more than a smaller 4-cylinder engine - any dim wit could figure that out - but all info I gleaned online pointed to the fact that the Toyota Estima is right up there amongst the best for fuel efficiency in its category.

Keep in mind too, there are a bunch of factors that affect your fuel economy, and ways you can maximise it, such as:

  • Fuel quality and grade - is it 98, 95, E10, 91?
  • Tyre pressure - people report that a higher tyre pressure results in better fuel economy
  • Air temperature
  • Road condition
  • Cargo/passenger weight
  • Average speed
  • Driving style and habits. Need I explain? What kind of driver are you?
  • What and how much you ate for dinner
  • And more....

For the record, I use 98, recommended tyre pressure and am a fairly gentle driver - except when some dipstick tries to take me on the outside lane at the lights or a roundabout.

So, while I’m terribly sorry if you came here to be enlightened about the fuel efficiency of a Toyota Estima in Australia, you’ll learn much more from a simple Google search. You’re bound to be bombarded with tons of great advice and info.

But really, who gives a rats?


Xo,
Natalia
Your JDM addict