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The Toyota Cressida may have a rather bland, conservative appearance but underneath, it's a tremendously capable performer that's superbly put together and one that offers a just about unbeatable array of standard equipment for the price.
This is particularly true of the Grande version, the subject of this report. At $43,860, the Grande costs $5278 more than the Cressida GLX but the extras you get help to make the Grande the complete luxury package it is. Its standard equipment list includes an anti-lock braking system, automatic climate-control air conditioning, a CD player with six-pack "stacker", and full leather trim. These are in addition to "normal" Cressida fittings such as alloy wheels, central locking, cruise control, electric windows, power steering and a good quality stereo system.
Both Cressidas are powered by a powerful and delightfully smooth, DOHC multi-valve in-line 3.0 litre six-cylinder engine that drives the rear wheels through a four-speed automatic transmission. There's no manual version.
The Grande has a smooth, rounded appearance, not unlike an enlarged Camry. Compared to its obvious competitor - the Nissan maxima - the Cressida is now starting to look a little dated, particularly around the doors and side windows where it lacks the maxima's flush look. But though the Cressida doesn't have the sort of looks that stand out in a crowd, it's appealing in a pleasant and inoffensive way. A recent update (august 1991) saw the Grande equipped with better-looking, new-style alloy wheels.
Buyers should be well pleased with the standard of finish on their Grandes; all cars I've looked at have featured immaculate paintwork and high standards of panel and trim fit. Perhaps the only criticism is the dashboard appearance, which in contrast to the fine leather upholstery, I think looks a bit cheap and "plasticky".
Extensive anti-corrosion measures are built into all Cressida models and include the use of special anti-corrosion steel sheet for most of the body construction, anti-chipping paint and special treatment for lower body panels and the underside. It's very rare to see even the earliest Cressidas affected by body rust and the latest versions can be expected to be even better.
Though the Grande in no way matches the interior space of say, a Ford Fairlane, it provides good space and comfort for four people, or five at a pinch. Front leg room is generous, but head room is restricted for tall drivers because of the sun-roof mechanism. The seats are generally comfortable, but the cushions are too flat to provide much lateral support when cornering.
In the rear, best comfort is provided for two people. A third occupant seated in the centre position is perched high on a cushion hump and also has to contend with a fairly large transmission tunnel. Rear leg room is reasonable and headroom in the two outer positions is satisfactory.
Ride comfort is well and truly in the luxury class; the compliant suspension copes very well with bumps and road surface irregularities, and does so without transmitting any harshness to occupants. In this respect, the Cressida Grande is clearly ahead of the Nissan Maxima.
Boot space is reasonable overall in the Grande, but it's not as deep as you might expect, considering the spare wheel is mounted vertically over the left side. Stowing heavy items can be a chore, as they have to be lifted over a relatively high loading lip.
With height adjustment provided on the driver's seat and a tilt-adjustable steering wheel, drivers of just about every conceivable shape and size should be able to find a comfortable and effective driving position in the Grande.
The front seat belt shoulder anchorages are also height-adjustable, thus enabling drivers to tailor seatbelt fit to their individual requirements.
The basic controls for lights, wipers, etc., follow a standard, easy-to-use layout, however some of the other switches require familiarisation. These include the sun-roof, air conditioner panel and radio controls (there are two separate switch panels for the sound system). Another minor gripe is the rear window demist switch being hidden by the steering wheel.
Though the Grande isn't a small car, it's fairly easy to park, thanks to light steering and a compact turning circle. Vision is good for general driving and satisfactory for reverse parking, even though it's a little difficult to judge the boot extremities.
The Cressida's multi-valve 3.0 litre DOHC six-cylinder engine is a very efficient unit that turns in an impressive performance in all conditions. Power output is an impressive 142 kW, more than a Commodore or Falcon six. Consequently, the test car was able to match acceleration figures posted by a current Falcon and wasn't far behind the Commodore.
The Grande feels lively and responsive when pushed along but at the same time, it's a very quite and relaxing car at cruising speeds. There is a bit of noise under full throttle at higher speeds, but the performance itself is smooth and progressive.
Considering the Grande's mass of just on 1.5 tonnes and the amount of equipment on the car, fuel consumption figures for the test car of 12.2 litres/100 km overall and 10.3 litres/100 km on highway running were praiseworthy.
Though the suspension settings have obviously been directed at providing a comfortable ride, the handling is generally quite good. The Grande leans a little more into corners than the front wheel drive Nissan Maxima but doesn't understeer as much. The wide-section low-profile tyres provide good adhesion.
The combination of large ventilated discs front and rear and ABS anti-lock braking give the Grande tremendous stopping capabilities with an impressive resistance to fade under heavy useage.
Generally speaking, I'm not a big fan of automatics with extra buttons for power/economy and overdrive on/off (I think it partly defeats the purpose of having an automatic in the first place), however the Grande's four-speed unit is generally very smooth on all but full throttle changes, which can be harsh when kickdown is used.
Overall, the feeling of the Cressida Grande on the road is one of refinement and smoothness, which of course is what you expect in a luxury car. The Grande is also quiet, comfortable and easy to handle.
There's not a lot of space around the Grande's twin-cam in-line six-cylinder engine for servicing, but apart from the oil filter being awkwardly situated under the exhaust manifold and the engine coolant level not being particularly easy to check, most routine service checks shouldn't present any great difficulty. The ignition system is fully transistorised (no points to service) and the spark plugs are platinum-tipped for an expected service life or around 100,000 km.
The usual service intervals apply; after the first at 1000 km, maintenance is due each 10,000 km or six months. Extra lubrication services are specified at 5000 km/three monthly intervals for cars operating under severe conditions. Toyota still sticks to just the statutory warranty period of one year/20,000 km.
The combination of strong engine performance and rear wheel drive configuration makes the Grande a good proposition for towing. For a brake-equipped trailer, Toyota specifies a maximum towing load of 1200 kg, while for a trailer without brakes, the figure is 400 kg.
Though the Toyota Cressida Grande doesn't stimulate much excitement with its appearance, it's a superbly finished vehicle with levels of performance, safety, comfort, quietness and equipment that make it a very pleasant and relaxing vehicle to both drive and ride in.
Cressidas have built up an enviable reputation for reliable, trouble-free service over the years and the Grande is one of those cars I can confidently recommend, knowing it's unlikely to give owners any problems.
|Price of vehicle tested||$43,860|
Performance and braking
High boot load lip
|Country of manufacture||Japan|
|Warranty||1 year, 20,000km|
$38,582 - GLX
|Number of cylinders||4|
|Engine size||2.9 L|
|Induction||Electronic fuel injection|
|Claimed max power (kW)||142 kW @ 5600 rpm|
|Claimed max torque (Nm)||254 Nm @ 4400 rpm|
|Wheel size||6.00 JJ x 15 "|
|Type||Dunlop SP Sport|
|Type||Power assisted rack and pinion|
|Turns to lock||3.6 m|
|Turning circle (measured)||10.7 m|
|Width (including mirrors)||1695 mm|
|Fuel capacity||70 litres|
NRMA Theft Rating
|Points on scale 0 - 120 (high score is best)||6|
Acceleration - Test results
|50 - 80km/h||4.3 secs|
|60 - 100km/h||5.7 secs|
|0 - 80km/h||6.8 secs|
|0 - 100km/h||9.7 secs|
|Best recorded during testing||10.3 L/100km|
|Worst recorded during testing||12.5 L/100km|
|Average on test||12.2 L/100km|
|Distance to stop (from 80km/h)||31.8 metres|
|Interior noise at constant 80km/h||65 dB(A)|