Ask an expert


We have 5 children so we need a reasonably large vehicle. We currently have a Nissan Serena which has been fabulous with very few running problems, but we will have to look at upgrading in the near future.

Can you tell me if the hybrid coaches such as the Toyota Estima are a viable option considering their much higher purchase cost?

Do larger hybrid cars have any known typical faults to beware of?

Any advice would be appreciated.


From the "Ask Jack" archive - 3 October 2009


The Estima is a very good vehicle but a hybrid version would be something of an orphan in NZ. The only hybrid Toyota currently sell new in NZ is the Prius which certainly does not suit your requirements.

Toyota dealers have what is called a 'Signature' range of used cars, some of which are used imports from Japan, and unless they sell the hybrid version of the Estima then I would not consider such a vehicle. You certainly need the comfort and peace of mind of knowing service backup is available if required.

I have also heard there are hybrid Estima's fitted with constant variable transmissions (CVT) currently available on the NZ market. My information is there is virtually no technical support for these vehicles if the transmission was to give problems.

As I said the standard Estima is a great vehicle but you need to get the second generation model which is based on a car platform and is front wheel drive. The earlier versions are a mechanics nightmare due to their complex engine and driveline configuration. The same vehicle sold new in NZ as a Previa.

Once again the Toyota Signature range is a good place to start your search.