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Toyota introduces updated Probox commercial van

by Ben Hsu

The facelifted wagon has a host of new conveniences for the traveling salesman.

Toyota has released a facelifted version of its popular Probox and Succeed commercial vans. The four-door wagons are commonly used as delivery vehicles in Japan and as taxis in south Asia and some South American countries.

Since its launch in 2002 the Probox — along with its identical twin, the Succeed — has maintained the top share of its segment. Not wanting to mess with success, the latest update keeps the rear two-thirds of the car, with its wide and functional cargo area, virtually identical to older versions, which have soldiered on 12 years without much of a change.

Up front, visual refinements include new headlights and a grille. Under the hood a new 94hp, 1.3-liter engine replaces the outgoing unit and promises 43 mpg in the Japanese JC08 cycle. The 107hp, 1.5-liter unit lives on, but the CNG option has been dropped. A new CVT becomes the sole transmission option, replacing the 4-speed automatic and 5-speed manual.

The biggest changes come from the cabin, where traveling deliverymen will spend much of their time. A rack to hold standard sized notebooks sits above the glovebox, right next to a11.4 by 7-inch fold-out table intended for work or lunch breaks. Below that is another tray for clipboards or notebooks, and another shallow storage tray lives just below the turn signal stalk.

Other clever dashboard designs include a plastic "shopping hook" from which plastic bags can be hung, a locking box below the climate controls, and a dash-mounted cupholder than can store round bottles and square milk cartons. An adjustable holder built into the vertical lid of the coin tray can be used for cellphone placement, right below which are a 12-volt "cigarette lighter" outlet and (Japanese standard) 100v alternating current socket for convenient charging.

A revised front suspension and speed-sensitive power steering round out the mechanical improvements. Both front- and all-wheel drive configurations are retained, with prices starting at $12,900.