The Toyota Cressida Was a Supra-Powered Proto-Lexus

It's a luxury sedan with a straight-six from a legendary sports car. What more do you need?

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Toyota

You may have forgotten about the Toyota Cressida. Unless you're a fan of Japanese luxury sedans, that's an easy thing to do. This rear-drive sedan had a small cult following in the 1980s, but with the arrival of Toyota's Lexus division in 1989, its fate in North America was sealed.

In this 1989 Motorweek review of the then-new third-generation Cressida—which was actually the fifth-generation Mark II in Japan—John Davis hypothesizes that this Toyota could outlast the Lexus brand. We know today that's not the case, but Davis's reasoning for thinking that makes a lot of sense. It's because the Cressida was a fine car.

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Understated, yes, but plenty comfortable, and with all the build quality you'd expect from a Toyota. It had a killer engine, too—the 7M 2.5-liter inline-six straight out of a Supra. It's this engine that keeps the Cressida alive in the minds of Toyota enthusiasts today.

But despite a sports-car engine, the Cressida wasn't a sports sedan; it was a luxury car, first and foremost. It was a Lexus with a Toyota badge on the grille, and it's worth seeking out today.

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