Remember the Toyota Cressida? Here’s Why It Was Iconic

Although the Toyota Cressida was only on the market for a small period of time, it made a big impact.
Written by Alexandra Maloney
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
A 1989-1992 Toyota Cressida parked outside
A luxury sedan with a sports car engine, the
Toyota
Cressida was all the rage in the 1980s. During the time period, the Toyota Cressida was Toyota’s top selling car, particularly popular among the conservative middle class, according to
Hot Cars
.
When the Cressida craze was interrupted with the introduction of Toyota’s Lexus division in 1989, many felt the car’s time in the spotlight got cut short. While Toyota Cressida’s didn’t populate the roads for too long, it still is one of the most iconic and underrated cars in car history.

Toyota Cressida history

Drivers loved the Toyota Cressida because it was built to last. It had a sports engine and a luxury feel, all for a reasonable price. The marketing and build of this car set it up to be an all-time American classic.
The first generation of the iconic Toyota Cressida was introduced in the United States in 1977. It was also released in other countries, referred to as the Mark 2, Cresta, Chaser, and more. In the United States, the Cressida was marketed as “the most trouble-free new car sold in the U.S.”
During the ‘80s, the Toyota Cressida was at its height. The car made luxury driving available to everyone, and sales were at an all-time high. But, its reign was short. The combination of a luxury and sports vehicle gave Toyota the inspiration to begin experimenting with building other cars. Thus, the Lexus LS400 was born—a luxury car with a luxury price tag. 
Released in 1989, the Lexus LS400 and Toyota Cressida were on the market together for a few years. But, in the early ‘90s, Toyota made the decision to discontinue their popular, accessible, iconic car and focus on the luxury brand. 
Sadly, because of its brief selling period, many drivers forgot about the Toyota Cressida as time went on, leaving it as one of the most underrated cars in car history.
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Toyota Cressida engine and performance

The engine for the Toyota Cressida came straight out of the popular Toyota Supra—a 7M 2.5-liter, inline six. This isthe  engine is what truly made the Toyota Cressida a cross between a luxury and sport vehicle. Without it, the Cressida would have just been a luxury car with a good price.
This powerful engine gave the Toyota Cressida the ability to go from 0 to 60 mph in just 8.5 seconds, which was extremely impressive for the time period.

Toyota Cressida styling and interior

The Toyota Cressida impressed drivers just as much when it came to styling as it did with performance.
Road and Track
sums up the interior and design perfectly, stating it’s “understated, yes, but plenty comfortable, and with all the build quality you’d expect from a Toyota.” 
Inside the Toyota Cressida, drivers could find luxury features that weren’t available in many cars during the ‘80s. The Cressida came standard with automatic climate control, power windows, door locks, a theft-deterrent system, and even gave drivers the option to choose between velour or leather for the seats.
Plus, the Cressida was the first car ever to have motorized automatic passive seat belts—that was a pretty big deal.
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