Toyota Chaser Buying Guide
The Toyota Chaser was in production for nearly a quarter-century. Production went from 1977, all the way to 2001; and it underwent a total of six generational changes. It was Toyota’s answer to the mid-size, four-door sedan, and it stood the test of time for many years. Based on the Mark II platform, this car was only offered in Japan alongside its brothers, the Cresta and the Cressida. In the very beginning, there was a coupe version, but that was discontinued after the first generation.
- Pros and Cons
- Common Issues
- Average Prices
- Comparable Alternatives
- Models and Specifications
- 1977-1980 Toyota Chaser First Generation
- 1980-1984 Toyota Chaser Second Generation
- 1984-1988 Toyota Chaser Third Generation
- 1989-1992 Toyota Chaser Fourth Generation
- 1992-1996 Toyota Chaser Fifth Generation (JZX90)
- 1996-2001 Toyota Chaser Sixth Generation (JZX100)
- How to Import a Toyota Chaser
The Chaser was considered to be just below the Crown, both in size and luxury. The smaller size also made it more desirable to Japanese customers as it meant lower annual taxes. That being said, Toyota didn’t skimp when it came to the fun aspect of the car. By the fourth generation, the Chaser was fitted with the iconic 1JZ engine, and by the fifth generation, the 2JZ was added to the roster.
This guide is intended to give you a better insight into the Chaser and why it might be the right car for you. We have scoured through numerous sources of information and forums to bring you as much information as possible so that when it comes time to buy one, you know exactly what to look for.
Pros and Cons
- Simple, timeless design
- Great choice of engines
- Relatively low price for a 1JZ or 2JZ Toyota
- It’s a “Sleeper”
- Makes a great family car/daily driver
- Can make a lot of power
- Parts are hard to find
- Maintenance can be expensive
- RHD only
- If you are looking for a statement car, this may not be the one for you
- Stock ones are hard to come by
- There aren’t that many for sale
Being a Toyota, the Chaser has several pros and cons. This section will strictly focus on the common issues found on the Chaser so that you know what to look for when it comes time to buy one.
Like most aging cars, the Chaser can be plagued with malfunctioning electronics. After years of use and drastic temperature changes, things will start to fail, and the first ones to do that will, of course, be electronic sensors. The severity of this also depends on how the previous owners have treated the car.
Rust is another common issue. This is not just on the Chaser, but on older Toyota’s in general. Japan never paid much attention to rustproofing as they don’t normally use salt on the roads during winter. Over time, even if salt wasn’t used, the elements start to take a toll on the vehicle’s body, and rust starts to form.
The clutch may be another issue. Several owners have reported that the Chaser likes to go through clutches quite often. This problem is, of course, based on how you drive the vehicle; but even so, owners who don’t abuse their cars still report that clutches wear out faster than usual.
Differential mounts and bushings seem to be a common issue as well. It has been well documented that the bushings are a regular maintenance item.
Overall, the Chaser is a very reliable car, and most owners say the mechanical side of things are almost bullet-proof, even when abused. After all, Toyota has had a long-standing reputation for reliability. If you can get over the fact that cosmetic issues are normal with the Chaser, you won’t regret buying one.
These understated sedans can fetch a higher-than-average price. But where can you get a car with room for the whole family that is RWD and comes with the legendary 1JZ or 2JZ engines? Prices seem to be steadily going up, thanks to them becoming increasingly rarer, so grab one while you can. The average price of a Chaser is right around $15,000.
Chasers can drastically vary; it all depends on what you are looking for and if you are looking for a project or something that you can just get in and drive. As these cars become scarcer, the price is sure to increase.
There are plenty of Japanese sedans to choose from similar to the Chaser; even Toyota has two comparable ones. We have put together a list to help you see what models are similar to the Chaser so that you can choose which one fits your lifestyle best.
Here are some comparable alternatives:
- Toyota Mark II (Read our Toyota Mark II Buying Guide)
- Toyota Cresta
- Nissan Skyline Sedan (Read our Nissan Skyline Buying Guide)
- Mitsubishi Lancer (Read our Mitsubishi Lancer Buying Guide)
- Subaru Impreza WRX (Read our Suburu Impreza Buying Guide)
- Honda Integra Sedan
- Mazda Atenza
- Nissan Cefiro
- Mitsubishi Galant
The list of comparable sedans is already huge, but that’s not even half of it. There are also many four-door cars from non-Japanese automakers that we haven’t even mentioned, but none are as reliable or iconic as the Chaser.
Models and Specifications
As we previously mentioned, the Chaser was in production for almost 25 years. This long-run stretched across six generations. In this section, we will be going over each one of them in greater detail.
1977-1980 Toyota Chaser First Generation
Unveiled in July 1977, Toyoda debuted the Chaser as a direct competitor to the Nissan Skyline. It was almost identical to the Mark II, apart from the wider grill and lack of parking lights.
Under the hood, Toyota offered a choice of three engines, all of which were under 2.0L. This was done intentionally so the customers would have a smaller annual road tax. In addition, the car was made to meet the strict physical dimension requirements for the very same reason. A four-speed manual and three-speed automatic were their only transmission choices then.
Although rare, the first-generation Chaser was offered in a coupe body style as well. This was the only generation to offer this option.
1980-1984 Toyota Chaser Second Generation
The second reiteration of the Chaser was now offered in a sedan and four-door hardtop configuration only. Engine-wise, the old ones were no longer used and two new 2.0L, 1G versions took their place. The same four-speed manual and three-speed automatic were still the only transmission choices available.
Additionally, the Chaser was offered the “Avante” package. This included sport-tuned suspension and better handling Michelin tires. While its main competitor was still the Nissan Skyline, a new kid on the block called the Nissan Leopard also posed a threat to the Chaser. This was mainly due to its lower asking price.
1984-1988 Toyota Chaser Third Generation
For the third generation, Toyota did a lot of modifications under the skin of the Chaser. This included larger disc brakes and two new 2.5L engines, bringing the total to four. There were still only two transmissions to choose from. This time you had the option of a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic. In addition, the customer could option one of the 2.0L engines with twin turbos.
Later in its lifecycle, Toyota introduced a few cosmetic changes to the Chaser as well. Larger bumpers revised front grilles, and the addition of an LPG system were just some of the upgrades. In 1987, two new editions were released. These were called the “Lordly” and the “Chaser Avante”.
1989-1992 Toyota Chaser Fourth Generation
Also known as the X80, the fourth generation Chaser saw a lot of improvements compared to past ones. Two new engines were added, bringing the total up to six, and the five-speed manual and four-speed automatic transmissions remained unchanged. This is the first time we see the 1JZ engine being offered in the Chaser which had the maximum horsepower (280hp) allowed by the Japanese government at that time.
There were a total of eight trim levels offered. These were named XL, XG, Raffine, SXL, Avante, Avante Twin Cam 24, GT Twin Turbo and Avante G. Their engine lineup now ranged from a measly 1.8L, inline four-cylinder, all the way up to the mighty 3.0L, naturally aspirated straight-six a.k.a. 7M.
1992-1996 Toyota Chaser Fifth Generation (JZX90)
October 1992 saw the introduction of the fifth-generation Chaser. It was also known by the chassis code X90. Toyota made the new Chaser better in almost every way. It was larger, more powerful, and handled better than its predecessor. This time around, there were only two engines offered. These were the 2.5L 1JZ and the legendary 3.0L 2JZ also found in the Supra. There was only one transition offered: the five-speed manual, making the Chaser the perfect four-door sports car.
By now the Cressida was retired, leaving only the Mark II, Chaser and the Cresta. Overall, the Chaser was the sportier one of the bunch, making it ideal for the family man who still wanted something fun to drive. The Cresta was geared more towards luxury, and the Mark II was the base model of the holy trinity. However, the cars only saw cosmetic modifications between them such as different front and rear ends.
1996-2001 Toyota Chaser Sixth Generation (JZX100)
In September of 1996, the last generation Chaser was revealed to the public. This time around Toyota make sure to separate the Chaser by making it sportier than the other two sedans they were selling in that period. A total of four engines were available for this generation. This included a 2.0L 1G, two 2.5L 1JZ engines (one turbo and one n/a), and one 3.0L 2JZ. The four-speed automatic transmission was put back on the list, while the five-speed manual transmission remained unchanged.
Toyota focused its efforts on promoting the two main trim options: the Avante and the Tourer. The Avante was marketed as the luxury one, while the Tourer was more on the sporty side. Moreover, the Avante had a special called the Avante Four G, which implemented full-time 4WD. All the Avante’s came equipped with the four-speed automatic transmission only. Since the Chaser had already reached the maximum of 280hp allowed by the Japanese government, Toyota focused on extracting more torque out of the turbo 1JZ engine.
By 2001 the Chaser was discontinued, and a new model called the Verossa took its place. The Cresta didn’t last much longer either, while the Mark II lasted one more generation until its demise in 2004. In addition to the Verossa, Toyota also introduced a new model called the Mark X. This was intended to merge the “Holy Trinity” into one single model.
The Toyota Chaser weighs 2300-3200 pounds depending on the year of manufacture. The first-gen Cresta, X60, is the lightest, while the sixth-gen, X100, is the heaviest at 3197 pounds.
Tourer and Avante. These came with either a 1JZ or 2JZ engine, arguably the best engines Toyota has ever made.
Aftermarket companies make the Toyota Chaser’s suspension, engine, transmission, and other mechanical components. You can find these parts on stores like Amazon, eBay, and AliExpress. You can also order custom parts from tuner houses, especially those specializing in Toyota and Lexus cars.
The JZ engine in the Toyota Chaser might become fuel-thirsty when tuned. Still, JZ engines are some of the most reliable JDM engines. Toyota reliability is evident in the Chaser as it rarely breaks suspension, transmission, or drivetrain components fail and requires very little maintenance.
The Toyota Chaser comes with various engines, including a 2L diesel engine. Still, you get it mainly with a 1G, 1JZ, or 2JZ engine.
For a Toyota Chaser with a stock 1JZ or 2JZ engine, you shouldn’t pay more than $25,000 on the higher side. But if it has a 1G engine and the owner asks for more than $20,000, walk away or politely try to negotiate the price down to around $15,000.
The Lexus LS. However, unlike most Toyota Luxury Sedans, the Lexus LS mainly comes with V8 engines.
The 6th-gen Toyota Chaser, JZX100, was made from 1996 to 2001.
How to Import a Toyota Chaser
Read our ultimate guide, How to Import a Car from Japan.
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