In Japanese market, the Toyota TownAce (CR21) was launched in April 1978. It was a short-wheelbase, mid-engine MPV offering seven to eight seats. It was pretty similar to Space Cruiser in looks and appearance. In December 1985, a 4WD version of TownAce (CR30) was revealed by Toyota. There were no major changes brought by the company until September 1993 when the facelift was produced as body type CR31. It was remained in production till 1996. The TownAce was available with the choices of either automatic transmission or manual transmission and also the diesel or petrol engines were available. There were different variants of TownAce. For instance, one variant was sold as Toyota MasterAce (often with “Surf”); Toyota LiteAce was another variant often sold with “FieldTourer” added. On the other hand, the top-end 7-seat TownAce was badged as “Royal Lounge”, while the 8-seat TownAce was badged as “Super Extra”.
Although, there were a lot of similarities found in the left-hand drive Toyota Van in United States and the TownAce, Toyota Van didn’t have all the luxury features offered in TownAce, such as 4WD or diesel engine. However, 4WD was offered for a short period of time in United States in the form of WonderWagon in 1980s.
With the availability of grey imports, the TownAce began to gain popularity in the United Kingdom, where previously Space Cruisers had held the market for quite a long time. Though 10-year old, the TownAce was still a smart option for having a reliable, cheap MPV with so many luxury features like aircon/climate control and automatic transmission. Although, the 2CT diesel engine was low powered, but still offer 30+mpg (less than 10 km/l)
Apart from UK, a good number of units were exported to Russia as well along with some other countries like Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Tanzania etc. Also, the second-hand TownAces showed a good demand in Bolivia where these were primarily used as public transportation.
In the United Kingdom, the owners of grey imported TownAces faced two main problems. Firstly, to keep the engine’s ageing cooling system well-maintained as there were no manuals or other documentation available to perform any DIY repairs or maintenance. However, with the passage of time, several forums and websites emerged on the internet to help the owners of the TownAces to keep their vehicles well-maintained. Not to forget the role of Toyota GB that provided good assistance with supplying spare parts despite the fact the new models of TownAces had never been able to make their way to UK market. Toyota made an attempt to produce good repair manuals (RM025E) for the 2CT diesel engine and Autodata too had published a good account of TownAce repair manual, but the problem was that the manuals were in Russian language.
The Toyota Motor Corporation introduced a new model based on the Daihatsu Gran Max in Indonesia in late 2007 in order to replace the Toyota TownAce as well as Toyota LiteAce in Japanese market. The new model was offered in both truck and van type and both were offered with 1.54-L engine.