1989 Toyota Cressida

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chicagotribune.com
The Toyota Cressida is longer, wider, faster and quieter for 1989.

If that`s not enough, it also sports a new, slightly more aerodynamic shape.

Unfortunately, Toyota didn`t do all of this strictly out of the kindness of its heart. The base price of the luxury import from Japan starts $848 higher than the shorter, narrower, slower and louder version in 1988.

For 1989, Cressida is built on a 105.5-inch wheelbase and is 189.6 inches long, up from a 104.5-inch wheelbase and 187.8-inch length in 1988. Width also grew about 1 inch, to 67.3 inches. The dimensions are about the same as a Chevrolet Celebrity.

Those numbers mean ample leg, arm and head room front or rear, though a third back seat passenger would have to be a minor.

Seats are wide and thickly padded and you can cruise for hours without fidgeting or tiring. Two buttons control all power seat movement for forward- back, up-down positioning. Simple operation without the maze of seat controls common on many luxury cars. Ford Motor Co. should take a cue from Toyota on power seat simplicity.

Styling is pleasant but no head turner. A smaller grille or the absence of one as with the Taurus would be more appealing. The front end sweeps low, the rear end sweeps up, making the car look longer than it is. Wide protective bodyside moldings guard against parking lot dents and dings from nitwits who open their doors as if bird dogging for a body shop.

Cressida is powered by a 3-liter, 24-valve, fuel-injected straight 6 that delivers 190 horsepower. The 3-liter replaces the 2.8-liter, 12-valve, 156- h.p. 6 from last year. The 3-liter is a lively engine with above-average power. The surprise is how that engine can be so responsive, yet so quiet.

The engine is so quiet you might not realize it`s running. We took a dime, then a nickel and finally a trio of quarters and placed them on the hood of the Cressida. None of the coins so much as moved,much less wiggled or vibrated.

We popped the spring-held hood and placed the coins on the engine block. Again, no movement. Virtually no sound or motion at idle.

We`ve driven cars that shook so much at idle that Andre the Giant couldn`t sit on the hood without being bounced about. Quiet is the sound of quality and luxury.

A four-speed automatic is standard. A button on the gear shift lever lets you engage or deactivate overdrive. Another button bypasses the normal shift points on the automatic for quicker off-the-line response.

That automatic shift lever features a locking device to prevent you from shifting out of park into any gear without applying the brake.

Other nifty Cressida items include automatic shoulder belts that fasten around your upper torso when the key is turned on, pullout dual cup holders in the lower dash and fan and circulation controls concealed in the dash that pop out and return at the push of a button.

Ot her standard equipment includes power brakes and steering, air conditioning, all-season radial tires, power windows and tilt and telescopic steering wheel.

What`s not standard on the rear-wheel-drive Cressida, however, is an antilock braking system. Antilock brakes are a rather steep $1,130 option for a car that starts at nearly $22,000.

>> 1989 ToyotaCressida
Wheelbase: 105.5 inches Length: 189.6 inches Engine: 3 liter/24 valve, 190 h.p. six Transmission: 4-speed automatic Fuel economy: 19 m.p.g. city/24 m.p.g. highway Base price: $21,498 Strong point: Quiet/simplicity Weak point: $1,130 for antilock brakes >>

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