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Check out these 5 iconic cars from Toyota Motor Philippines' 35-year history

VJ Bacungan · Aug 23, 2023 02:55 PM

toyota logo


Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) is 35 years old this August 2023.

The country’s top automaker in terms of sales is celebrating this milestone in typically spectacular fashion, ranging from promos on its latest models to its two-day Toyota GAZOO Racing Festival at the Quirino Grandstand.

We take a look at five of the Japanese company’s most iconic vehicles since 1988. But why not cars from before this year?

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The pre-Cory years

First, a little history lesson.

Older car enthusiasts will know that Toyota started in the Philippines in 1962 under TMP’s predecessor, the Delta Motor Corporation of renowned basketball coach Dante Silverio.

Notable models from this period include the Corolla, Corona and Celica.

Following the local economic downturn and increasing political unrest after the August 1983 assassination of Senator Benigno Aquino Jr., the chief opponent of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Delta’s operations came to a halt on December 1983.

After the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution that deposed Marcos and elevated Senator Aquino’s widow Corazon Aquino as president, the new administration established the Car Development Program that helped Japanese carmakers resume their operations.

These included Toyota, which tied up with the late businessman George Ty to create TMP on August 1988. This was a joint venture that included the Toyota Motor Corporation, Mitsui & Co. and Metrobank, which was founded by Ty.

TMP today is majority-owned by the Ty family’s GT Capital Holdings Inc., with Alfred Ty serving as the carmaker’s local chairman.

Our little throwback done, let’s take a look at TMP’s five most memorable models.

Toyota Corolla

toyota corolla altis hybrid exterior


The best-selling car nameplate in the world had been in the Philippines even before TMP existed.

But under the new Toyota administration, a new generation of Corollas with front-wheel drive came into the country. From the AE90 “Small Body” to the AE111 “Lovelife,” the Corolla was a consistent best-seller for its peerless reliability and practicality.

The Corolla name lives on today in the Corolla Altis and its crossover sibling, the Corolla Cross.

Toyota Tamaraw

toyota rangga concept race car


The Tamaraw is yet another nameplate that predates TMP, first arriving in the Philippines in 1976.

Named after the tamaraw, a small buffalo that can only be found on the island of Mindoro, the Toyota Tamaraw built its reputation for being a rugged family and light-commercial vehicle. 

Combining high ground clearance, generous seating capacity and simple mechanicals, Toyota’s “Asian Utility Vehicle” gained a huge local following before it was replaced by the Revo in the late 1990s.

However, the Tamaraw is coming back to the Philippines – Toyota chair Akio Toyoda announced that the Japanese company is investing ₱4.4 billion to locally manufacture the next-generation Tamaraw (based on the Toyota IMV-O concept) at the Toyota Santa Rosa plant in Laguna.

Toyota Vios

toyota vios exterior


When the Toyota Corolla moved upmarket following the introduction of the Corolla Altis in the early 2000s, TMP needed a car that could cater to lower budgets.

The subcompact Toyota Vios was just the model for the job – even after 20 years, it has remained TMP’s top-seller because of its friendly driving characteristics, good fuel economy and legendary Toyota reliability.

The Vios is also one of the vehicles that are currently built in the Philippines under the ₱27-billion Comprehensive Automotive Resurgence Strategy (CARS) Program that was launched under the late President Benigno Aquino III.

The CARS Program is a successor to the first President Aquino’s Car Development Program.

Toyota Hilux

toyota hilux gr-s exterior


Even after 20 years, the Toyota Hilux has remained high in the minds of pick-up buyers.

With an over-engineered frame, generous cargo capacity and go-anywhere 4x4 capability, the Hilux has become an icon in its own right for providing Filipinos with a pick-up truck that ticks all the right boxes.

Whether it’s used as a workhorse or as a status symbol, the Toyota Hilux will always have a place, anywhere in the Philippines.

Toyota Innova

toyota innova exterior


In 2004, the venerable Revo was gone and in its place came one of TMP’s most iconic models in the 21st century. 

Packing next-generation, common-rail-direct-injection turbodiesel power and a substantially more refined interior for seven passengers, the first-generation Toyota Innova was a huge hit, especially for Filipino families.

The popularity of the Innova has refused to wane, even with the introduction of the next-generation Toyota Zenix. In fact, TMP has decided to continue selling the Innova and the Zenix side-by-side.

Looks like everyone’s favorite “supercar photobomber” lives on in the era of electrification.

Which of these Toyota models do you love the most?

Rate this story now using the five stars below. It will help us provide content that you enjoy!

VJ Bacungan

Senior Writer

An award-winning multimedia journalist, editor, and host for online and TV who has written in-depth stories on road safety and the Philippine elections. Outside of the media, VJ is an accomplished motorsports champion, English teacher, and dancer.

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