Review: 2007 Toyota Caldina 1.8 - A fine example of Toyota’s build quality

The Caldina was never sold officially by Toyota in Malaysia. It was a car brought in through the grey market or a car brought in by people who had previously worked or studied in Japan. Estates are not a popular choice in Malaysia and the Caldina sits between being an estate and a large hatchback.

Before we go on, we’ll have to thank BE Otomobil in Klang for lending us the car. This Caldina is available at their showroom alongside many other interesting used cars.


Another story thanks to BE Otomobil: All-Natural Goodness - Honda Civic Type R (FD2R) Review

This Caldina is from 2007 and comes with a 1.8 L Engine. Being an older car, the transmission is a conventional 4-speed automatic. It doesn’t sound exciting but both the 4-speed transmission and the 1.8L Engine provide a smooth and responsive combination (something even some modern cars of today struggle to achieve).

What do the specs look like?

Engine: 1.8L 1ZZ-FE I4 (Naturally Aspirated)

Transmission: 4-speed automatic

Drivetrain: Front Wheel Drive

Tyres: 215/50/R17

Price (2018):  from RM30,000 to RM40,000

The Toyota Caldina is a Family Car

In 2018/2019, the 2007 Caldina has a similar price tag with a brand new 1.3 L Perodua Bezza or a Proton Saga. The choice is yours to make. The Caldina is in a different class, is obviously a lot bigger, and is a lot more comfortable. It was in fact a premium car in its day. For an estate, the Caldina has a sporty appearance. There is even a GT-Four variant which has a 2.0 L turbocharged engine. The 1.8 is subtler and has an uncanny resemblance to the Toyota Wish.

Somewhat related: A 200 km/h 90s Japanese Saloon - BIADAP's Toyota Corolla AE101


Does it have a lot of space?

It could sit 5 people comfortably. There is decent leg room for everyone in the car.



How does it feel on the inside?

The interior is obvious pre-2010 design but everything is still holding up very nicely in the Caldina. Nothing has fallen off, including the buttons for the air-conditioning or pieces on the door trims. Other cars of this age would usually have the interior falling apart already. The dashboard is very well intact and there is no rattling in this 11-year old Toyota. 



The use of dark fabric is practical and keeps the car looking younger for longer. Leather seats and light-coloured fabrics don’t seem to age too well.

Somewhat related: Experiencing A Car From The 80s - Hayashi86’S Toyota Corolla AE86


How does the shifter feel?

I still don’t like Toyota’s gated shifter, but things feel solid here. Even new Honda CR-Vs seem to have flimsy gear shift knobs these days. It is a job well done by Toyota that took 10 years to prove.

Does it have ISOFIX?

Yes, it does.



Is there much space in the boot?

For an estate, not that much. Even a Persona (Gen2)’s or a Bezza’s boot space can rival the Caldina’s. If boot space is something very important for you, you might as well get a Toyota Wish or a Honda Odysssey.



Even with the backseats folded down, there’s not much extra space. Better than a sedan of course, but not by a big margin. The Caldina is handy for some light hauling but it’s not something you’ll be doing most of the time.

The Caldina is a car you would use to chauffeur the family around with some luggage and still get somewhat of a sporty car with decent ride and acceleration. A good candidate for road trips.

Somewhat related: “The Reasonable Mid-Engine Sports Car” -1990 Toyota MR2 SW20



Something you don’t see in many other cars are the 4 automatic power windows. Everybody (except for the backseat center passenger) gets an automatic power window to themselves.

What is it like to drive?


The Caldina is a pleasure to drive. Although traditional, the 4-speed automatic delivers a smooth ride.

What about the 1.8L ZZ-FE?

Well, it is sufficient for the size of the car that the Caldina is. It is not noisy on the inside and I wouldn’t mind long distance journeys with the car. The 1.8 L Engine is at the lower end of the variants, but it does the job of transporting 5 people comfortably very well. If a sporty looking estate is what you are looking for, the Caldina is something you could consider.


How does it fair for highway driving?

The acceleration is decent for the occasional overtaking.  Once you’re in top gear, you can relax.

There are no more Caldinas


This is the third generation Caldina which was last produced in 2007. The body style isn’t something that appeals to many. Previous generations of the Caldina were based on the Corolla and had a more utilitarian feel to them. It is only the third generation Caldina that has a sporty look and a coupe-ish roof line going on. The Caldina is a good car and considerably good looking. It was just that the body style didn’t catch on with the market. Modern families have evolved to prefer full-size MPVs and full-size Crossover SUVs instead.



Well, should you get one then?

Some people like the Caldina because at least it’s something JDM that you could drive the family around with. It also looks good, especially from the rear. You also get good old Toyota reliability. The build quality is still holding up very well after 10 years. It’s most likely not to give you any drama. You might want to change the radio, however.

If you want a real people carrier, go for a full-size MPV or SUV. There’s a reason those kinds of cars are catching on these days. It’s because they work. The Caldina drives well and looks unique, but expect sedan practicality with a little bit of added space.

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