Closely related to the Toyota Tercel, the Toyota Paseo is a sporty compact that was in production from 1991 to 1999. It was sold initially as a coupe and as a convertible in later years. It was discontinued in the US in 1997, although production continued for other markets until the model was pulled out in 1999. Today, the Paseo attracts second-hand buyers looking for an eco-friendly vehicle that’s also reliable and durable.
1991-1995: The environment-friendly Paseo enters the US market
The Toyota Paseo shared a platform with the Toyota Tercel and Toyota Starlet, making it possible to interchange parts between these three vehicles. Equipped with a 1.5 L 5E-FE inline-four engine, it produced 100 horsepower and 91 lb/ft. of torque. In 1993, the engine’s ratings were tweaked to meet California and California-based emission standards. So cars sold in California and states with the same emission regulations were equipped with engines that produced 93 horsepower and 100 lb/ft. of torque. The first-gen Paseo was available with either a four-speed automatic or five-speed manual transmission.
1995-1999: A convertible Paseo is introduced
Upgrades included tweaks in the body sheet metal and a more modern electronic system for the engine. All engines for the second-gen version were also tweaked to reduce their specs in accordance to California emission regulations. At the 1995 Tokyo Motor Show, a convertible version was introduced and was officially released in the market in 1996. However, in 1996, sales of the Paseo were halted in the US, with the 1997 model as the last model sold to the US market.
In other countries, the Paseo was still sold. In the UK, the Paseo was available in three trims: ST (base), Si, and Galliano. The Si featured a Sony CD player, a third brake light, anti-lock brakes, a color-keyed boot spoiler, and 14-inch alloy wheels. As for the Galliano, this trim included 15-inch alloy wheels, mud guards, a color-keyed chin spoiler, and a colorful exterior with decals on the sides. In Japan, the Paseo was sold under the Cynos name. Three trims were also available for the Japanese market: Juno, Beta, and Alpha. All the trims came with a rear windscreen wiper and color-coordinated wing mirrors, but they were equipped with different upholstery, engines, steering wheels, and dashboards. The Beta was equipped with a five-speed manual gearbox and a 5E-FHE engine, the Juno was equipped with a four-speed automatic gearbox and a 1.3 4E-FE engine, and the Alpha was equipped with a five-speed manual gearbox and a 1.5 5E-FE engine.
In 1999, Toyota discontinued the Paseo. Despite this, the Paseo was one of Toyota’s more engine-efficient sporty vehicles. It also continues to be a reliable option among second-hand buyers looking for a sporty, fuel-efficient, but affordable sub-compact coupe.