Oh, sure, it’s a minivan.
But no! Stitch that–it’s a relatively uncommon, ferociously durable, mid-engined, all-wheel drive minivan with Toyota pickup DNA. Do I have your attention now? That’s right, the weird old Toyota Previa has more than a few surprises, and they’re cheap. Especially if you find a rusty, unkempt one. When I bought the Sharqtipus, it was disinclined to move in reverse. Yes, this should be a deal-breaker, but after some driving around, reverse suddenly came back, and for less than $900, it seemed worthwhile.
So, of course, Sharq ran for all of a month before the transmission cacked. It took the better part of a year to raise the funds and then find a JDM replacement, and now that it’s in, the big egg-shaped beastie is playing at being a full-service packhorse, hauling people and cargo and (once the brakes are updated) even towing a trailer or three more than likely. I had no idea that the Previa had a reputation for strength and reliability, though there are more than a few of them still running around even in corrosive Detroit.
Update: Sadly, the Previa’s brakes proved to be unfixable. New lines, a new master cylinder and a new proportioning valve all failed to correct the periodic pedal-to-the-floor issue that Sharq was having. So, the big beastie was traded in for another Ranger.