Is It a Station Wagon? Is It a Van? It’s the Best of Both.
Toyota really scored with the Probox, and if you buy a used Probox Van from Japan, you are also going to score. This is a car that goes minimal and gives you the maximal. It’s one of the simplest post-year-2000 cars ever made; Gosh, it’s got winding windows, Guys! Toyota built it tough and simple to be the best tradesman’s station wagon and the best economical load hauler for small businesses. The reinforced rear suspension and the big, boxy load area give you a station wagon that works like a panel van.
A Successful Follow On to the Successful Corolla Van
The Toyota Probox Van DX is the follow on vehicle to the highly successful CorollaVan DX. (You can see one that we sold here.)
Those Corollas were brilliant, simple, long lasting works vehicles and Toyota sold hoards of them. With the Probox, Toyota took the simple wagon concept and improved upon it, and then sold hoards of Proboxes, too. You see them everywhere, all around the world. Why has the Probox been so successful? Aren’t there lots of other good tradesman’s cars on the market? Sure, of course there are, but the Probox has something more going for it over earlier vehicles in this class. Look here at these two side views:
You’ll see right off that that Probox is more square, more boxy (Pro”box” anyone?). That gives you more total rear load capacity and a slightly more accessible rear load bay. You’re looking at a solid two meters of load space back there; and, in a nice little feature, when you fold the rear seats down, there is a restraining bar there that you can raise up behind the front seat backs to help keep the heavy items back there, in the back, where they should be, and not sliding into your back. Good road! Check it out:
And to manage the heavy stuff that every small businessman and every independent tradesman needs to carry, at least some of the time, the Probox Van DX has reinforced suspension (coil spring) at the back. The car is rated for a 400kg load, and those extra strong springs mean that you don’t have to panic if ever you need to carry a bit of an overload for a short distance. And those strong rear springs are another reason that the Toyota Probox Van has become so popular in developing countries where the roads are not always the best.
This is where, after another month of the rains, you are going to start dreaming about four wheel drive. Which is actually an option on the Probox. So let’s talk just a bit about Probox options.
Yes, believe it or not, there is a four wheel drive option available on the Toyota Probox and I’ve even seen examples that have been given a moderate body lift kit and fitted with off-road tires and roof racks. These cars look kind of cool, actually! Check this one:
The 4WD Proboxes all come with the bigger of the two engine options: the 1,500cc 1NZ-FE normally aspirated straight four. These engines are very fuel efficient and are not particularly highly stressed units, running 10.5:1 compression and burning regular gas. With the 4WD versions (which are full-time four wheel drive, by the way) and with the 2WD versions (front wheel drive, of course) you can get either a manual or an automatic transmission; 4-speed with the auto and 5-speed with the manual box. It’s the same situation, your choice of auto or manual, if you go for the smaller engine option, the 1,300cc 2NZ-FE, but, as I said, four wheel drive is not an option with the 1.3; all the 1,300cc cars are front wheel drive and are very economical load haulers.
Most, in fact all that I have seen, Probox DX Vans come with winding windows (bless the simplicity!), but with the GL grade vans you can get power windows if that’s what you want. To me, however, the keynotes of the Probox Van, as with the earlier Corolla Van, are simplicity and economy and working-world reliable capability, so I really like the winding windows.
So Is It a Van or a Station Wagon?
O.K., look, yes, it’s a station wagon, obviously. Does it look remotely like a big tall Nissan Homy panel van? No.
By the way, here’s a 1994 Homy that we recently exported from Japan to the USA.
So why is the Probox Van called a “Van” and not a “Stationwagon?” Aaaaah….It’s like this: Here in Japan some automakers do use the term “van” for base-grade station wagon bodied cars that are intended to be used primarily as load haulers and works vehicles. They have uncarpeted rear load bays with tough rubber mat liners
and the interior is not set up for luxury passenger comfort, just simple utility, hard wearing and easy to clean.
There is actually a “Probox Wagon,” which is a bit more of a passenger car, with a fuller rear seat with headrests and more comfortable padding. There is also the Toyota Succeed, which is really just a slightly longer version of the Probox and that is, again, a bit more passenger oriented. Same wheelbase, though, and, just to confuse you, there is a “van” version of the Succeed. However, all units of the Toyota Succeed come with the 1,500cc engine. So, for basic basic super basic, it’s the “Probox Van DX” that you want. The very car that we are looking at now and that we recently exported from Japan.
But, whatever we call these cars (Probox / Succeed / Wagon / Van) they are “go for ever” cars, especially the basic level Probox Van DX. A very worthy successor to the good old Corolla wagon. And, like the Corolla Van, the Probox gives you a station wagon type car that has a lot of the load capacity that you associate with a panel van, but without the high body panel van that can be tippy and sensitive to cross winds at highway speeds.
Register with Japan Car Direct for Japanese Used Car Auction Access
So if you are thinking that you want to buy a good, clean, simple used Toyota Probox directly from Japan yourself, just register here with us and you’ll get access to the Japanese used car auctions where we find our best deals on good used cars from Japan. Of course, we do also source good units of many different types of vehicles from the used car dealers here in Japan, but, for cars like the Probox Van and the Corolla Van, and for used commercial vehicles generally, it’s the auctions that give you the best value for your money.
Same goes for the much smaller, but very capable, Kei vans
which may be the right choice for your small commercial vehicle needs if you’re mostly in town and need a smaller and highly maneuverable load hauler for the really tight job sites. Again, the best deals are generally at the Japanese used car auctions. You can read about Kei vans elsewhere on our Japan Car Direct website here.
And here you can see a lovely (and very practical) Sambar Classic Kei Van that we exported recently to the USA.
Most of our customers who are looking for used commercial vehicles for small businesses and for independent tradesmen (machines like the Probox Van, the Corolla Van, the big panel vans such as the Homy, and the Hiace, and the small Kei vans like the Sambar), are in the USA, Canada, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand. (Just click on the country name to learn about the used car import rules for each of these countries.)
Now, the Probox itself is not yet twenty five years old so it’s not cleared for easy import to the States or to Oz. Guys there should go for the Corolla Van like the one we linked to at the top of this article.
These Probox Vans are very popular in Kenya (see the used car import rules for Kenya here) and in countries in the West Indies, in Jamaica and the Caymans, for example. They really are universally popular and are certainly one of the best tradesman’s station wagons available today.
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