Last Updated on February 13, 2023 by Leepu Da Maxim
The Toyota Cressida is a mid-size and high-end luxury sedan that Toyota produced between 1973 and 1993. This model was discontinued in North America in 1992 due to the introduction and success of Toyota’s luxury division Lexus. Cressida also reported falling sales caused by limited availability.
- Toyota discontinued the production of Toyota Cressida for several reasons like increased competition, decreased sales, consumer preferences towards modern vehicles, etc.
- The Toyota Cressida faced increased competition from other mid-size sedans and failed to cope with the competition and stopped producing
- The production cost of Toyota Cressida was very high and it was one key reason Toyota was not able to cope with the competition
- Another important reason Toyota discontinued the production of Toyota Cressida was, they wanted to redesign their existing mid-size cars
Overview of the Toyota Cressida
The Toyota Cressida lived through four generations starting from 1973 to 1993. It was first produced in 1973 but the first model to be exported from Japan was in 1977. The Cressida was also referred to as a “four-door Supra” in the USA. This was because the Cressida and the Supra were both flagship cars for Toyota North America, and they had the same engine (M series straight-6 engine) and rear-wheel drive.
The Toyota Cressida was available worldwide in a variety of forms and engines. The available engines included the L series diesel straight-4, G-series I6, M-series straight-six, and R-series straight-4 gasoline engines.
Since the Cressida was introduced in the USA, its main competitor has always been the Nissan Maxima. The Cressida has inspired the Lexus brand due to its luxurious characteristics.
History of the Toyota Cressida through its generations
First-generation (1977- 1980)
The first generation of Toyota Cressida was available as a wagon, coupe, and sedan version. The coupe was available only in Japan and was sold as the Toyota Mark II. It came with air conditioning which was unusual at that time as a standard feature. It also had an automatic transmission with an option of a 5-speed manual transmission, rear-seat armrests, power steering, AM/FM cassette stereo with amplifier, reclining front seats, steel-belt radial tires, and a rear window defroster.
The automatic transmission came with a four-speed overdrive with an overdrive lockout which was also unheard of. It also had optional power windows and extensive soundproofing. The soundproofing made the Cressida famous for being one of the quietest cars on the road at the time. The 4M-E straight-six engine was a single overhead camshaft (SOHC), quiet and powerful but with not so good gas mileage. However, its gas mileage was better than American luxury cars.
Second generation (1981-1984)
The second-generation Cressida was redesigned to look different from the previous generation. It came with an updated body style for the wagon and sedan, and the coupe version was no longer made. Thanks to electronic fuel injection, it also had a larger engine, 116 hp. Between 1981 and 1982, the model used the 5M-E engine. Later, this engine was superseded by the 5M-GE double overhead camshaft (DOHC)engine with a higher power rating of 143 hp and 156 hp in 1983 and 1984.
The Cressida was refreshed in 1983, giving it an independent semi-trailing link rear suspension, rear solid disc brakes, and a 5M-GE engine to compete more effectively with BMW and Audi. Most of its technology was borrowed from Toyota Supra with minor differences. It also had a rare 5-speed manual transmission and an electronically controlled A43DE automatic transmission, which was upgraded from the hydraulically controlled A43DL transmission.
The Cressida gained a reputation for outstanding ownership as it had excellent handling and quality ride, a quiet interior, and was very reliable. The North American version had automatic seatbelts with a motorized shoulder belt deployed in a closed position by locking the door and turning the ignition on. In 1984, motor trend crowned the Cressida wagon as the year’s car.
Third generation (1985-1988)
Toyota introduced a new Cressida in 1985. This model year had a similar engine to its predecessor, but it had a knock sensor that detected pre-ignition and adjusted the timing when a lower-grade fuel was used.
It had a new body style that was more extensive and aerodynamic than all the previous generations. It also came with new options, including an electronic shock absorber control, a digital instrument cluster, woodgrain trim, secondary radio controls close to the steering wheel for easy access while driving, and a switch that was either sport or regular to increase shock stiffness. In 1987, Toyota changed the automatic transmission to A340E, which was also used with the 7M-GE engine. The 1988 model didn’t offer a manual transmission option, and the wagon was discontinued in 1987. By 1988, the power output was at 161 hp.
Fourth generation (1989-1992)
This was the final generation of the Cressida in the American market, marked by the 1989 model year. This model was rated as the most reliable luxury vehicle competing with Volvo, Mercedes, and BMW. The fourth-generation Toyota Cressida was more rounded, prominent, and had more standard features than its predecessors. Some of its new features were: a semi-lock transmission that dint engages until the driver puts their foot on the brake pedal, anti-lock brakes. Most other features and technology were similar to those of the Supra. The Cressida was discontinued in North America in 1992 after Lexus was introduced.
Even after being discontinued, the model remained Toyota’s largest luxury sedan until 1994, when Toyota Avalon was introduced. Though the American made Toyota Avalon is different from the Cressida, it is considered its replacement
How did the Cressida perform outside North America?
Cressida was prevalent in most other parts of the world, including Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and the UK. It was available in other countries with a slightly different body and the same chassis. It had different names in various countries, including Toyota cresta, Toyota chaser, and Toyota Mark II. When the Cressida name was continued, other names were still produced in Japan until the early 2000s.
In Australia, Cressida was sold until 1993 February, and then it was replaced by the Vienta and later Avalon. At first, the Vienta wasn’t so popular because it was a front-wheel drive, yet the Australian market is used to rear-wheel drive for large sedans.
Currently, the Toyota Cressida is a popular tuning car worldwide because it has a powerful engine and rear-wheel drive. It is also used in street racing and drifting competitions with turbocharged Toyota engines and aftermarket suspension. The vehicles are reliable, rugged, and versatile.
The Toyota Cressida is a famous luxury model that can be tuned to anyone’s liking. It was discontinued when the Lexus luxury brand was introduced since Toyota didn’t see the need to have a luxury sedan.