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1996 Toyota Paseo REVIEW logo 4/6/2017

What’s New: All-new Paseo looks like last year's car, but is much improved. It now meets 1997 passenger car safety standards, and has a split-fold rear seat.

Review: What do you get when you plunk down $13,000 for Toyota's sporty-looking Paseo? You get tepid acceleration, poor visibility, rear drum brakes, and a two-speaker AM/FM radio. On the plus side, the new Paseo comes with dual airbags, side impact protection, remote hatch and fuel door openers, locking split-fold rear seats, rear defroster, and a car that can handle on the twisties as well as a Pontiac Firebird or Mitsubishi Eclipse.

Basically, what you get is a Tercel that corners well. Oh yes, there is also the issue of Toyota reliability. Is it worth $13,000? Well, you could buy a Neon Coupe or a Nissan 200SX. If those don't get you drooling, how bout a Mitsubishi Mirage LS Coupe, Honda Civic DX Coupe, or Ford Escort GT? The answer to the question depends on what you're looking for in a set of cheap, sporty wheels.

The Paseo comes with a minimum of standard equipment. Add some alloy wheels, air conditioning, antilock brakes, cruise control, and a cassette player, and the Paseo runs above $16,000. We're thinking that this isn't much of a value. We're thinking Neon Sport Coupe.

Styling is new this year, and while it is derivative, the Paseo certainly is attractive. The greenhouse is small, squashed between a high beltline and low roof. Windows have been enlarged and pillars have been thinned, but the inside of the Paseo is still rather claustrophobic.

This car was conceived as a commuter sport coupe. It shares its market niche with a dreadful vehicle called the Mazda MX-3. Neither car sells very well, and the reason is because any of the cars mentioned previously is far more satisfying to own and drive than either of these two vehicles. However, if we had to choose between the Paseo or the MX-3, we'd definitely go with the Toyota.


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